In recent years, the legal industry has changed significantly. With the global pandemic encouraging new ways of working and opening doors for innovative businesses to fill the market, law firms will need to continue to evolve. Innovation attracts buzzwords. This article aims to break down some of the key ones, LawTech, LegalTech and NewLaw, to help you better understand ways to ensure your legal needs are met in this brave new world.

What is LawTech?

LawTech is a term that describes technologies which make legal functions more accessible and make performing them easier and faster. Furthermore, LawTech has meant that businesses are now able to access new and different legal services in more ways. For instance, they can undertake simple tasks that a lawyer would traditionally perform on their own. Examples of LawTech follow below.  

What Are Some Examples of LawTech?

Technology That Connects Clients With Lawyers

Traditionally, to receive legal services, you would need to ring or meet up with a lawyer that you were familiar with. They would then refer you, through their personal or professional network, to a lawyer with the right expertise. This has all changed. For instance, Chatbots can now answer simple legal questions and some firms (including LegalVision) offer online booking platforms. These technologies enable members to access the right lawyer quickly. As a result, they get the benefit of a large pool of lawyers with various levels and areas of expertise. 

Technology has also improved the way documents are shared and used by lawyers and their clients, particularly where this information is confidential and sensitive. Where simple things like executing a document used to involve lawyers, online execution has meant that contracts can now quickly and easily be executed across borders and different time zones.  

Another way that LawTech has helped people obtain legal services is through the movement of more of these services online. You can now access online dispute resolution services from the comfort of your own home (rather than having to travel to the relevant court). Collating documents in sensitive circumstances (such as where you are experiencing domestic violence) is also now more feasible through specialised mobile applications. These significantly improve a claimant’s chances of success.

Document Automation and Other Practice Management Technology 

LawTech enables lawyers to reduce repetitive work. Accordingly, lawyers can deliver legal services to their clients more quickly and for less cost. 

Contract document automation is a good example of this. Lawyers use a template for such things as contracts and customise them for a client’s needs. Document automation has made it simpler for lawyers to identify the true value that they offer. They can also provide alternative fee and billing arrangements to reflect this.

For example, some firms now offer ‘no win, no fee’ promises and more firms are willing to offer fixed fees (instead of hourly rates) for more matters. 

LawTech has also made timekeeping by lawyers more accurate, reducing the time lawyers need to spend on administrative tasks. Less time on menial tasks means more time to add value where it really counts, by better understanding clients’ businesses and providing targeted advice.

Software Solutions That Incorporate Artificial Intelligence 

While previously lawyers spent hours reading hard copy documents to collate evidence concerning a dispute or to prepare for a corporate transaction, much of this work can now be completed using artificial intelligence. 

For example, LawTech has made software solutions available to clients and lawyers, allowing for better and more secure document storage. These systems often also provide a way of easily searching and categorising documents.   

Tools now also exist that enable lawyers to understand large volumes of information faster and more comprehensively. While previously lawyers relied on printed judgements, they can now run searches and complete research electronically and can draw more insights from historical data. In some cases, these insights are being used to predict the outcomes of class actions and legal proceedings. This helps clients to decide whether to proceed with legal action through the justice system.  More generally, it makes solving your legal questions a lot quicker and easier.     

Benefits of LawTech

LawTech is helping people in lots of different ways, including: 

  • increasing efficiency, productivity and growth for lawyers; 
  • reducing costs, making legal services more accessible and affordable;
  • changing the way people interact with lawyers and obtain legal services;   
  • driving better outcomes for clients, through accuracy and making data work harder; and
  • ensuring lawyers keep up with the latest developments in technology so that they are more familiar with the needs and challenges of their clients. 

LegalTech 

LegalTech also relates to the development of technological solutions in the legal industry but focuses on lawyers and law firms. It is a subset of LawTech and refers to technology that enables operations and processes to be automated, saving lawyers time and saving their clients’ money. Many of the examples above are examples of LegalTech. 

NewLaw 

NewLaw is a buzzword that describes entities in the legal industry that have broken away from legal profession tradition, hoping to address the challenges felt by those who interact with the law. It is considered the opposite of ‘BigLaw’, which refers to firms operating according to a traditional business model (think how the biggest law firms in Australia operate).

Some of the key differences include the following: 

NewLaw

  • commitment to using technology to address legal issues and drive efficiencies; 
  • alternative billing arrangements – subscription-style services and more fixed fees;
  • focusing on clients, their needs and delivering commercial solutions;
  • work is won through marketing and business development;
  • breaking down of barriers between legal specialisations to give clients a seamless complete legal package; and
  • experiments with innovation.

BigLaw 

  • partnership model, where partners are promoted from within and share in the equity of the firm; 
  • time-based billing;
  • high hourly rates to reflect the level of specialisation are area expertise;
  • hierarchical structure, which doesn’t lend itself to simpler and less specialised legal work; 
  • focusing on technical expertise and individuals’ years of experience in an area of law; and
  • work is won through networking, with an emphasis on individuals’ reputations and personal relationships. 

While NewLaw is used mostly in the context of law firms like LegalVision, it is sometimes also used more broadly to describe other legal services providers and entities which deliver LawTech and LegalTech solutions. 

Key Takeaways 

Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand better how the legal industry is changing and how you might be able to get more out of your legal services. If you would like to discover more about how LegalVision uses LawTech and how it can be used to your benefit, please get in contact with  LegalVision’s legal transformation lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page. 

What do you think about LawTech? Let us know your thoughts on LegalVision’s Twitter page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is LawTech?

LawTech includes technologies designed to make legal functions more accessible and performing them easier and faster. As a result of LawTech businesses are able to access new and different legal services in more ways.

What is NewLaw?

NewLaw describes legal entities that have broken away from the traditional aspects of the legal profession. It aims to differentiate from the firms operating according to a traditional business model.

What is BigLaw?

BigLaw is the traditional business model for law firms. It often includes a partnership model and hierarchical structure as characteristics.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

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