VQ article on The Digital Associate in IICJ

In the latest issue of the International In-house Counsel Journal a paper by VQ founders Helena Hallgarn and Ann Björk has been published on the topic The Digital Associate of Law Firms and the Benefits for In-house Counsel.

In this paper we discuss the changing prerequisites for the legal profession, the spectrum of legal work, the digital associate and new legal profession roles, changing law firm business model, emerging business opportunities and the benefits for in-house counsel from the changes in the legal market.

The legal services market is at the verge of some momentous changes, with pressure from clients (especially the stronger in-house counsel) and new technological surroundings and demands for efficient use of IT. Technological developments resembling the computer Watson who could win the TV show “Jeopardy” based on a new kind of intelligent capabilities to understand complex information, will provide new groundbreaking opportunities to make efficient use of computers also in legal work.

In the paper we explain how law firms can explore these new possibilities by the use of sophisticated IT tools and how they need to analyze and understand their core business in order to decide what parts of it that could be outsourced, standardized or even automated by the use of IT.

The paper also explains how law firms can see the possibility of changing their business model by the use of new technology, how a new business model will change the pyramid structure of the traditional law firm and how new business opportunities will emerge when building this new business model.

From an in-house counsel perspective it is further explained how you will benefit from the changes in the legal services market, what new services you will be offered, what demands for efficiency you can put on law firms and how work performed by expensive lawyers may be replaced by the “digital associate” – a new concept that pinpoints the coming winds of change for the legal services market.

Another interesting article on this theme is the article by Peter Murray “Lawyers Object as Computer Program Does Job Better”: “Maybe I don’t know enough about the field, but it seems to me that increasing efficiency is generally a good thing. I understand that times are so tough right now that lawyers, to keep hours, are now doing tasks typically handed off to paralegals, such as discovery. But if we take a step back and acknowledge that legal fees, in general, are really freakin’ high and that the average person, even before the Great Recession, can’t afford a lawyer, then maybe e-discovery becomes an opportunity instead of a threat. If law firms transferred those savings-savings of both money and time-to clients they would undoubtedly get more clients. More clients = more revenue = more hires. I may be missing something here, but it seems pretty straightforward to me. Don’t fight the technology, find a way to use it to your advantage.”

As commented by SRM Legal to this article: “Naturally computers can’t fully replace attorneys, but with the right people, process and technology, the overall quality of the attorney review process can be greatly enhanced.”