Type to search

Article Europe Featured

The Future of Law


Technology has the potential to revolutionise the legal services market and pave the way for law firms to offer clients a host of innovative connected services.

The benefits of tech investment are increasingly obvious. Through the adoption of ‘lawtech’, firms can boost their ability to anticipate and react swiftly to changing client needs. This in turn catalyses growth and helps to future-proof operations.

There is much to capitalize on when it comes to law firm tech implementation. According to The LawtechUK Report 2021 – Shaping the Future of Law, ‘there is an £11.4bn per year market opportunity for lawtech and innovation to address the unmet legal needs of SMEs and consumers by providing accessible and affordable services.’

Given this, the argument to ‘go big’ on legaltech is compelling. But firms may come to regret committing major investment to new systems, if they haven’t also explored exactly what support their client base needs.

Equally, it is vital to balance spend against the effectiveness of new tech implementation. As change continues at pace and the commercial sector continues to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic, it’s time to take stock and look at how we can offer the best solutions for clients, in the most cost-effective way.

There remains a gap between what clients want and what law firms are providing; and identifying this is what led to Shoosmiths developing Shoosmiths8 Connected Services. Our journey has provided us with valuable insight into the most effective tech adoption strategies, and we’re keen to share our knowledge to help speed the evolution of the legal sector as a whole.

Carefully consider what to invest in

Legaltech has the potential to bring the legal sector forward in leaps and bounds. But this doesn’t mean it should be widely adopted in all areas. Adopting tech for tech’s sake is something to be avoided. Lawtech is a nuanced subject, needing careful exploration and a detailed cost/benefit analysis. There are lots of success stories for technology adoption, however in some instances costs can be very high and outweigh the benefits.

One example is the challenge that comes with receiving Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs). Streamlining these requests by adopting technology will save time, but this comes at a price. It’s a common pitfall to progress with technology installation simply because it can be done, without assessing the cost against traditional methods. The reality is that most law firms receive DSARs infrequently, meaning the cost of setting up the technology in the first instance, when coupled with the associated maintenance cost, outweighs the benefit of any time gained.

There are, however, lots of beneficial technologies on the market that are not being fully exploited by law firms. Over the last two years, Shoosmiths8 has developed Cia® (Contract Intelligent Analysis), an AI solution that has the capability to review and make legal drafting amendments to a 100-page contract in less than five minutes at 94% accuracy. The innovation is therefore faster, less expensive and more accurate than its human counterpart, who would take up to five hours to complete the same task, at 86% accuracy. Powered by AI specialists – Thought River – this piece of technology which has been ‘trained’ by lawyers for months to meet client requirements, is well worth the investment. And by adopting a joint venture model to offer this solution, we have steered clear of a large, initial capital outlay.

Get the right support

Another key factor at play that can determine the success of technology implementation is the support provided. As legal technology has begun to thrive, the technology supplies marketplace has become saturated. This leads potential law firm buyers to feel overwhelmed by the number of options available and, through fear of the unknown, it has detracted many from adoption.

When law firms – of all sizes – choose to adopt these technologies, they should be coupled with carefully considered roll-out, support and training plans – to ensure the use of the technology is fully optimised. Taking time to get things right at implementation stage will help to minimise costly disruption further down the line.

Offer clients what they really need

As previously mentioned, there is a disparity in the legal sector market between what clients and customers require and what lawyers are currently offering – something Shoosmiths8 is designed to overcome.

Instinctively, lawyers want to provide a ‘Rolls-Royce’ service which entails in-depth, technical advice that covers all areas and is often surplus to client needs. Many client problems do not require such an involved process. Clients just want affordable solutions that do the job to the appropriate specification.

Worryingly, the extent of this perception gap is probably greater than most lawyers think, and it is only going to get wider as clients see service providers in other professions and industries being more imaginative in their offerings. With Shoosmiths8, we have not allowed our vision to be blurred by trying to outdo others. Our Connected Services offering is grounded in providing affordable solutions for clients, across all areas, that help them and their teams to work smarter, faster and better.

As with so many other industries, the future of law will be driven by technology. But, in order for law firms to ensure they can trailblaze and get the biggest return on investment, correct implementation – in the appropriate areas, at the right cost and with the right support – will be crucial.

By Tony Randle

Partner and head of Shoosmiths8 Connected Services


You Might also Like