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Legal tech part two: five legal tech plays

By Alan Bass and Michael Sauber 

In our post, "Legal tech shows no signs of slowing," we examined the drivers behind the use of technology in legal practice. In this post, we make the case for legal tech adoption and provide examples of initiatives already in play.

Why invest in legal tech

The legal market is changing, and competition is on the rise. The winners will be those that can deliver services efficiently, transparently, and profitably. For many firms, investing in technology is simply a response to this new Darwinian marketplace.

Perhaps the biggest threat to incumbents is the emergence of alternative legal service providers. A Georgetown University study estimates they already generate $8.4 billion in revenue, and 40 per cent of law firm managing partners expect to compete with them directly. The same study suggests technology will allow these providers to move up the value chain to tackle more complex matters. Forward-looking firms are investing in technology as a pre-emptive measure.1

Five legal technologies in play today

Firms around the world are testing the legal tech waters. Initiatives range from leading-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to proven solutions like document search and retrieval. The following are just a few examples:

Transparent forms. A cloud-based software tool takes complex information from legal forms and presents it in a simple way to self-represented litigants. It includes 100 court forms and has been used over four million times.2

Search and extract. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is used to scan legal databases and pull document relevant to a certain matter. In other applications, NLP help scan contracts to determine if they are legally sound and suggest clauses to add or edit.3

Value-based pricing. Firms lack historical precedents to figure out how much to charge and how to staff when clients demand value-based pricing. AI can find patterns in billing statements and case results to arrive at a price that will be amenable to both the firm and its clients.3

Performance benchmarking. Through simple comparison, firms can compare their litigation data to national databases to benchmark the firm against other firms’ outcomes. In addition, data analytics can be used to determine the greatest areas of profitability, whether by location, practice area, client type, or any other relevant dimension.1

Scouting reports. AI and predictive analytics can arm lawyers with “scouting reports” that provide background on the venue, the judge, opposing counsel, and historical precedents – and predictions of a potential outcome based on this data and facts of the case. The idea is to use these tools to provide the strongest representation for clients possible.1

Whether you are looking for first-mover advantage with newer technologies like AI, or want something proven, like document automation, there is an option ready for you to try. With market change accelerating, can you afford to wait?

1 Rhys Dipshan and Roy Strom. Law Firms are Investing in Tech Before It Overtakes Them. Law.com. March 26, 2018.
2 Horrigan, David. For Law Schools and the AALS, Technology and Access to Justice Become Priorities. Legaltech News. January 8, 2018.
3 Goyle, Raj. How AI is Enabling Law Firms to Adapt to Value-Based Pricing. Legaltech News. January 10, 2018.

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