I saw the future of the legal industry in a warehouse in Shoreditch. That perhaps sounds like an unusual thing to say about a $700bn global market, but after visiting a legal tech company recently in London’s most dynamic quarter, the true scale of what could happen to the legal sector was laid bare. What I saw is not the end for all lawyers, but instead an artificial intelligence (AI) whirlwind hitting the current world of paralegals and junior associates, whose working lives may very well be about to turn upside down.
The headlines sound marvellous to hard-pressed law firm partners (don’t all weep tears of sympathy into your beer): “Gateley partners to share £25m”. Wow. An exit route and, what’s more, a means of realising a goodwill value for your practice, as well as the return of your capital. What law firm partner could want more? Well, the substance, of course, is probably far removed from that glossy appearance, or at least a good deal more complicated.
Process maps can take a number of different forms and, depending on complexity, involve numerous sub-processes. Commonly used forms include swimlane diagrams, value stream maps, organisational process structures and the more comprehensive ‘SIPOC’ models (which details the interplay between Suppliers, Inputs, Process steps, Outputs and Customers).
Not many lawyers would consider themselves masters of process. When lawyers talk about their work, they typically focus on ‘high-value’ activities such as advocacy and counselling. But the truth is process is a massive part of what lawyers actually do on a day-to-day basis.
Why couldn’t law be designed by designers as well? Designers, humans being who love beauty and keep users in mind. It seems we’re getting there. When faced with the inner ugliness of the laws, some designers decided to put design methods to use. With a bold intent: make the existing laws simpler, user friendly and beautiful. And they invented that thing that we’ll be calling legal design from now on.