CEO and Founder of Contract Automation Platform Juro, Richard Mabey, writes on the importance of legaltech – to both lawyers and their clients.
Law is not a sector often associated with taking risks and innovating. Outside of American courthouse dramas, the profession has a reputation for being stolid, sober and conservative.
And rightly so. Lawyers depend on being dependable. Their pride is their consistency, their skill and their experience without the assumed ‘fluff’ of marketing.
As a result, the sector has become entrenched in processes and procedures that are just about good enough. In-house lawyers tend to be valued for their expertise, not their efficiency, with inevitable consequences for better and for worse. Legal decisions can have extremely serious consequences; the expectation is that they can’t be rushed.
But as the pandemic pushed even the most unlikely of sectors to digitise, law too is now undergoing something of a transformation. For the first time at such pace and scale, both in-house and private practice lawyers are appealing to technology to help radically change the way they work.
Social media is one way lawyers are modernising their practices and finding new clients. In the last couple of years, we have seen the growth of Legal TikTok as professionals search for new ways to generate leads online. In 2012, a good lawyer might have cultivated a following of a few hundred potential clients and other lawyers over a six month period on Twitter. In 2022, one good video can reach a million strangers overnight who are already engaged with the subject matter.
Julio Oyhanarte is a perfect example. With over 2.5 million followers on TikTok, the US-based immigration lawyer has quickly cultivated a space online to demonstrate his knowledge and expertise with informative videos on American immigration policy. Today, Oyhanarte operates with his own intake team – something more typical of the innovative world of business – to handle the influx of inquiries he receives. Digitisation has allowed the lawyer to cast the widest possible net and catch the most relevant leads.
The pandemic first showed us the possibility of working relationships built over distance. It then highlighted the importance of proximity. As well as using technology to market themselves, legal professionals are today looking for ways to spend more quality time with their clients. This has created demand for legaltech solutions that automate cumbersome processes, making efficiency a priority for in-house and external lawyers alike.
In-house lawyers today spend 600 hours per year on average manually sifting through administrative tasks. As the value of in-person (or at least, face-to-face via Zoom) contact hours becomes more self-evident, tech solutions are adapting to speed up processes and win back time for lawyers to work through complex challenges with their colleagues. Proofreading, for example, is a delicate and necessary task – but one that benefits greatly from automation.
In the last few years, Grammarly has become the indispensable tool of everyone from column writers to undergrads, but the legal sector has been slow to break from tradition. 58% of in-house lawyers still agree sensitive contracts in Microsoft Word, resulting in an awkward dance as complex documents are passed back and forth by email and slowly corrupted by data lost through tracked changes. Slowly, lawyers are starting to see the value of contract automation in buying back precious hours to spend with clients, streamlining processes through frictionless workflows and templating.
In the last 12 months alone, Juro has been able to help companies agree 400,000 contracts with contract automation technology, speeding up processes and saving customers millions of hours. As the world of work changes shape, frictionless and accessible solutions will be at the heart of innovation in the sector, allowing lawyers to prioritise tasks that make the most of their expertise.
Technology is not a threat to the legal profession, but a complement. Automation is here not to replace lawyers but to support them in making the best use of their time – whether spending more time with clients or posting on TikTok, if that’s what’s driving growth for them.
The last two years have shown legal professionals the potential inherent in technology to take existing processes and to make them faster and more efficient. The process of searching for individual clients has been augmented by a social media function that can find hundreds of thousands of relevant leads in seconds. The process of creating and sifting through documents for hours has been improved by technology that continually learns from the mistakes lawyers tend to flag.
The future is bright. Technology is helping the legal profession to unshackle itself from the chains of inefficiency, freeing up more time to spend on the things that matter. This can only be good for lawyers, and good for clients.