The effect of technological disruption on the legal profession

Posted on 04 Nov 2019, by Andreas Chiratos

Technological disruption to the legal profession profoundly reforms the manner in which law firms operate in the legal industry. Client expectations are on the rise and lawyers must stay up to date with the latest technological developments if they want to survive in the competitive legal industry. The application of technological innovation, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain, in the legal profession promises to allow law firms to handle high volumes of administrative tasks, such as document reviewing more efficiently and deliver faster services to clients.

For example, AI is being increasingly used to review non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to deal with increasing volumes of work required. Review of NDAs is crucial to enable progress in transactions. A new AI platform is currently being developed which aims to address the time taken in reviewing NDAs.

Moreover, AI is essential in the use of Chatbots (or Visual Assistants) which allows clients to receive guidance on matters through textual or auditory means. Importantly, the use of AI allows chatbots to recognise and address more complex client queries by allocating them to a lawyer. In certain contexts, chatbots could be beneficial for both lawyers and clients as answers to minor issues can be dealt with in a relatively quick and easy way.

Additionally, parties increasingly use blockchain to create smart contracts for certain transactions. Smart contracts utilise coding and they are ideal when legal contracts involve mathematical formulas to perform the contract, such as in complex financial derivatives. In short, the technology can automatically estimate outstanding payments in derivative contracts and sort out the completion of payments. This technology should serve as an aid to written contracts, rather than replace them, because certain parts of contracts cannot be translated into code, such as the legal principles of ‘good faith’ and ‘reasonability’ which necessitate human involvement through the legal judgement of a lawyer in order to deliver the completion of the agreement.

Therefore, some legal tasks may not be replaced satisfactorily by automated processes and the legal judgement of lawyers will always be needed to promote high quality legal services in commercial transactions.

Lawyers should become familiar with the use of technological tools and combine them with their interpersonal and analytical skills. In addition, lawyers will need to continue developing soft skills, such as emotional intelligence and communication skills, in order to deliver high quality services to their clients. Pro-activeness and life-long learning are indispensable qualities which lawyers will need to possess in order to be successful in an ever-changing legal industry. The good news for clients is that the development of legal technology and the need for lawyers to improve their skills will ensure high quality, fast and efficient legal services.

The content of this article is valid as at the date of its first publication. It is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you seek professional advice on your specific matter before acting on any information provided. For further information or advice, please contact Andreas Chiratos, Legal Consultant at Andreas.Chiratos@kyprianou.com