The technology in the legal world advances at an exponential rate as well. The tech within the legal realm — when it comes to providing legal services as opposed to running the law firm — is slower. There are several reasons. Attorneys, in general, are risk averse. They need to be. One of the principal advantages of using an attorney for legal services is to achieve a level of confidence that the information will achieve the objective for which the lawyer was engaged.
For each tech advance, a level of analysis and review is needed before attorneys will implement it. Their professional obligations demand that they don't take risks, so they stick with what they know. This creates a tension between the risk-averse nature of the legal profession and the continually changing anticipations of legal service consumers.
Assuming Moore's Law represents the rate of technological advance for legal services consumers — doubling every twenty-four months, and assuming a slower rate of growth for legal service providers — typically an increase of one half for every two years, then every two years the tension grows at a rate of 1.5 times. As that tension grows, the legal services industry finds itself competing with outside providers attempting to fill the gap.
The phenomenon is already happening and any business that wants to sell legal technology to the law industry should not ignore it.
There are four reasons that legal technology providers have been unable to sustainably market their services to attorneys. Legal technology has to work
Legal tech is not a category to end categories. Legal technology competes with technology in general — including technology designed for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Freshbooks
(invoicing) has been around since 2005. Box
(cloud-based storage) since 2006 and Google Apps
— forever. In 2008, when law practice management (LPT) tools started to appear, they were behind the functionality that people had become accustomed to. Eight years later and LPM tools have advanced, but have not kept up with the non-LPT- precise rivals.LPT must solve real problems
Attorneys will use technology that can deliver real solutions to real problems. Cloud-based LPT platforms are gaining traction because they meet this need. The "newfangled crowdsourced legal research technologies don't help most attorneys with research
There are still quite a few courts that don't support e-filing. There are also clients who still won't use email. And then there are the clients who can use email and the Internet, but prefer advice in person — or on the phone. People like this means that there sometimes aren't ways to use technology to improve efficiency, but there are fewer benefits and less incentive to make the switch.Ethics
Ethics uncertainty is a reality for both small firm attorneys and solo practitioners. Many refuse to use the cloud until bar associations grant permission. In the same manner, many small firms are slow to participate in limited-scope service arrangementsThe future of legal tech
A new piece, "Four Areas of Legal Ripe for Disruption by Smart Startups
", named the most encouraging examples of legal tech businesses. Although there are many legal startups each year in Europe and America, appropriation of technology by the legal profession is still slow.
A condensed answer: Attorneys want automation to be easy.
Attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld
, “The business that sets sale records will be the one that understands how to help attorneys, who are challenged by having to log into multiple systems, realize that consumers won't object to opening an account to resolve a critical difficulty.”
A panel discussion at Evolve Law talked about the demand for assimilation and discovered that the successful seller in the legal tech environment will be supporting the current methods with up-to-date platforms. They will also understand the need to help attorneys get ready to replace processes beyond e-discovery and other management systems.
Legal technology needs to be like Uber
. Uber is known for taking on the status quo. If legal technology wants more attorneys to engage, the companies should be on the frontline in modifying the rules.
Attorneys are an easy target. It is simpler to criticise attorneys for not adopting new technology than trying to understand how to develop tools that will help them to serve clients better.
The question falls into the lap of legal tech companies: What technology should attorneys be adopting and how slow have they been to adapt?