Will this be the Year of Lawtech?

Posted by Milad Shojaei, a trainee legal advisor at the Ministry of Justice, and strategy & engagement director at Legal Futures Associate Casedo

Shojaei: Lawtech start-ups have been quick to deliver

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that lawyers will not disappear any time soon. Still, the paper-based methods of working will gradually dispel in favour of digital tools, investment in technology and better ways of working.

Innovation will continue to play a pivotal role in our professional and personal lives, perhaps now more so than ever before.

A maturing market

The legal tech industry experienced an upheaval in 2020, accelerated by the abrupt transition to remote and digital practice.

Now that most legal professionals have taken the first steps towards the new normal engagement with technology, we can expect a maturing market that continues to experiment, invest, and accept the advantages of paperless workstations and digital tools.

However, adoption is still slow. Tech-incubators and significant investment are crucial to reinvigorating the market. The momentum in legal technology from 2020 should achieve meaningful change in 2021.

Smaller tech start-ups

As the global crisis expands the demand for digital solutions, lawtech start-ups have been quick to deliver. The last 12 months marked a record-breaking year for lawtech start-up investment.

Revised business models and capabilities have suited the cutting-edge technologies that tech start-ups have to offer. Given the accelerated growth of technology, coupled with a maturing market, we anticipate new investment records in lawtech start-ups.

Law firms driving progress

Lawtech will also level the playing field for the anticipated flood of new smaller law firms in 2021. As digital solutions simplify the delivery of legal services, we anticipate that lawyers will embark on new risks on their own, equipped with the latest technology.

Legal-tech education

As more universities offer interdisciplinary options that intertwine law and technology, we can expect disruptive impacts in 2021 and beyond.

Law graduates are often considered to be ill-prepared for legal work today and beyond. Given the tremendous advances in the legal sector in 2020, more law schools, employers and graduates will realise the necessity of adapting to changing tides in the law and recognise how important it is to integrate technological competence at undergraduate level.

Developments in artificial intelligence

Like most people in the technology industry, we too find developments in artificial intelligence (AI) exciting.

Although 2021 may not be the year when AI takes over the law, there will still be cutting-edge applications into the market given the tremendous potential for improved efficiency.

Nonetheless, AI will always need human intelligence to yield meaningful results and training from multi-disciplinary teams of technology experts and lawyers. The legal industry will undoubtedly begin to embrace bolder technologies as it prepares for potential expansions, and we may see inspiring AI offerings in 2021.

We hope to see new technological breakthroughs, raised awareness behind digital solutions, advantages of data analytics, and the development of powerful lawtech tools.

No one expected the changes we observed in 2020. If we all choose to work collaboratively, 2021 could be even more surprising and deliver more opportunities.


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