Automated Law Firms

At the ILTA conference last year there was a session entitled "A New View of the Automated Law Firm."  At the session several experts explained how the commoditization of legal services is leading to the need for automation of the workflow in law practices and how document assembly and automation will help to streamline the delivery of legal services to meet the consumer demand for legal services based on a fixed fee model.

This session has been referred to, together with presentation slides, in this Legal Current blog post by Andrew McLennan-Murray.

At the session some of the ideas by professor Richard Susskind were put into a practical way and it was discussed how different business models may require different technology and business processes. One of the experts at the session, Ron Friedmann, made an analogy to the "factory" law firm and explained how implementation technologies would vary between the different kinds of theoretical firms. "Critical to the success of the future law firm will be a continual focus on how work is managed. The "law factory" will have to refine its project management, budget and process methodology to be able to compete on price. For example, document assembly would be a critical tool for the law factory."

At the session several references were made to professor Richard Susskind's prediction that five different categories of attorneys will emerge, whereby the "legal knowledge engineer" would be one new category. These ideas are also something that we strongly believe in. And in line with the discussions at the ILTA session, we also see a clear need for streamlining of process, further automation and focus on efficiency and quality assurance. Therefore we perform consultancy work within the field for "legal knowledge engineering" when assisting law firms to implement intelligent document assembly solutions. To further support legal advisors streamlining their work we have now also developed a new intelligent legal solution with readymade standard documents for corporate registration matters. For more information, please see VQ Legal.

Our view on this is also in line with Anatoly Soyfer's comment to the session, where he stated that "all types of firms will be using document assembly in the future, the reason being that even the boutique law firm can benefit from automating the routine on non-bespoke parts of their services".

For law firms to stay relevant in the market place, it is critical to focus on how business is developed and to adapt the business strategies to the evolving client culture. But, as Andrew McLennan-Murray summaries the session and subsequent comments: "The topic of the future landscape of the practice of law is sure to be hotly debated over the next few years, but only time will tell which predictions will come true and which will go the way of the flying car. I have no doubt that there are surprises in store for us for the future of practice of law. Ultimately, I believe clients will be (indirectly) responsible for the shape of organizational structures to come. Those law firms able to adapt to client needs will thrive."


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