A guest post by Eimear McCann, on behalf of London International Disputes Week
Litigation, reputed for its fluctuating nature, has sometimes been viewed as a bit of an outlier in the legal tech world.
The idea of a workspace, whereby legal teams, counsel, judges, and clients can access a ‘single source of truth’ is a relatively novel concept; however, this is starting to grow in momentum, accelerated by advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and compounded by seismic shifts in our working habits, post-pandemic.
Irrespective of our digital competence, we have moved largely from resistance to a tempered acceptance of the pervasive nature of tech. Subconsciously, at least, we know that data is increasing annually at an exponential rate, and we also recognise that this data creation needs to be managed and moulded using digital tools.
Manual ways of working are simply unsustainable, particularly as the possession of data is one of the bigger commercial risks for any business.
In this context, automation has become a friend to the disputes world, removing much of the friction of manual discovery exercises and alleviating us from mundane tasks, such as bundling and standard hearing prep.
Beyond this initial gratitude is an active desire to use technology at a much earlier stage of a dispute, to capture timelines and data from inception through to trial.
In fact, our love of all things data-driven shows little sign of dissipating, with many law firms relying on litigation analytics tools to seek out patterns and insights on everything from outcomes to costs.
Arguably, the starting point for disputes teams lies in the litigation workspace, the central hub of early case management, which promises oversight and transparency of ongoing cases; a space for document capture, management, and collaboration; and a truly effective way of avoiding duplication and inefficiencies at all levels.
A single log-in replaces long email threads and removes the friction of omnichannel communication.
Beyond definitive workflow and cohesion, we now have layers of AI which are really changing how lawyers and teams view litigation prep and persuasion.
The need to trawl through paper files to find a specific document or file has been replaced by a simple search on a digital platform. The capacity to really interrogate the evidence, across an entire data set is incredibly powerful, allowing users to ask questions and retrieve specific answers within seconds.
The insights and patterns that can take hours to identify on paper can be automated and enhanced, with advanced bundling tools and automated transcription expediting hearing and witness preparation.
The inexorable rise of AI-driven technology will gradually lead to less human intervention and a greater use of automated, intelligent processes.
Predictions would lead us to believe that large teams of paralegals will be replaced by a condensed cohort of consultants, who act as translators between the software and the law, skilled at identifying relevant material at the e-disclosure stage, with a streamlined integration into an AI-powered workspace.
The future looks very much self-serve, with legal teams and counsel presenting evidence in court from laptops and iPads, in remote and hybrid settings.
Beyond this, the scope of generative AI in litigation is already offering new and creative ways of structuring arguments for trial, from chatbots calling back answers with relevant citations to drafting and evidence extraction tools.
As we are propelled forward on this new wave of technology, it is important to remember why it is useful and what metrics really matter. Quantity alone will not win us over, it will be about the quality of the answers provided, the accuracy of the search results and overall, the outcomes proffered by AI.
Many law firms are reassessing their tech stack in light of new tools and are also under increasing pressure to re-align their behaviour with ESG (environmental, social and governance) policies – the latter no longer a tick-box exercise.
Crucially, the nexus between greener ways of working; saving time and cost for clients; and improving outcomes is becoming increasingly visible. Understanding that the selection of the right tech tools offer all of this and more is the real game changer.
Eimear McCann is a former lawyer, with experience in litigation and contentious work, writing on behalf of London International Disputes Week. Currently commercial director at TrialView, an AI-driven litigation workspace, she has spent the past five years working in the legaltech landscape. She is also a visiting lecturer and writer.
London International Disputes Week is a forward-thinking forum for the disputes community active in London. The week will be taking place from 15-19 May, and will explore how disputes professionals are adapting to a changing world through its series of keynote lectures from Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury and Deborah Enix Ross, as well as panel discussions and networking opportunities.