The transformation of legal work

Technology is often connected with innovation in the legal sector. Now Legal Futures have released a new report – “Innovation Nation” – with the subtitle “How SME Law Firms are changing the way law is practiced” (“The Report”)  that further discuss this. Focus is on SME practitioners who also are in a majority amongst those receiving ABS license. Arguments for becoming an ABS are that it enables law firms to invest more and enables the law firms to operate as a “proper company” with stronger management involvement from non-lawyers who can invest in the company.

“This is the normal way of doing business, the way it is done in all other industries – which the legal industry has been resisting for a very long time” (See The Report page 5) One of the most important ways to change the legal work is still considering to be using IT as a tool to progress the legal service business and really transform the legal services process in an innovative way. Therefore it is also stressed that lawyers need to be trained in how to manage more standardized work in a new way by use of efficient IT tool.

The consequences of using efficient IT tools is that clients in the future might access online services without having any interaction with human beings according to Neville Eisenberg, managing partner of Berwin Leighton Paisner in the Legal Futures article “Consultancy Chief challenges Susskind over impact of technology”. “Services will become much more tailored for significant clients. Advances in technology and AI will have massive implications. Much that has been done in the past by lawyers will be done by machines.”

According to an article on, some work – such as search and writing work – being done by law firm associates will shortly be replaced by computers, robots, and AI. A legally trained Watson will be able to handle both that kind of tasks and even further tasks such as legal predictions.

It is important not to see this as the end of lawyers but as a transformation of legal work. Most importantly, lawyers need to understand their role, strength and their expertise in the new more modernized legal world.

“So as lawyers we’ve really got to focus on procedure, and tactics, and negotiations – all the bits that really do need the lawyers’ skills and not just the knowledge, because the knowledge side of it can pretty much be taken care of. And if it can’t already, it certainly will be able to be in the next few years.” (See The Report  age 15).