The truth is, in the majority of law firms – the way law is practised hasn’t changed much since the days of Charles Dickens. This is about to change – dramatically. In the legal tech world, things are changing at a rapid pace – faster than most lawyers realise, and it is inevitable that legal tech will largely shape the way that law is practiced.
This is my vision for how the legal profession will operate in 2028:
One day lawyers will laugh at the “quaint old days” of 2018, with its fax machines, paper files, and recording time in 6-minute units. Just like we laugh about the old days of tape-dictaphones and typewriters now.
Fast-forward to 2028: paper contracts are a thing of the past – client transactions are completed through smart contracts using blockchain technology.
If clients needs to sign something, they don’t have to come into their lawyer’s office. A simple electronic signature, “witnessed” by retina-scanning technology, and verified with blockchain, is all that is required for a legally binding document. The client never has to leave their own office.
Inefficient meetings in-person will be largely replaced with holo-conferencing. Lawyers will be able to easily meet with their clients from anywhere in the world, using a VR headset which makes it appear as though they are in their client’s office in-person. No more traffic, no more parking issues, meeting is easier and more efficient than ever before.
Millennials have now filtered through to leadership positions, and the focus on tech is central to every practice. Firms value hiring young tech-savvy Graduates (known as “iGen”), with their modern LLBs which consist of legal-tech and coding papers. iGens are even quicker and more fluent in tech than their Millennial predecessors.
Coding is the new drafting. Lawyers care less about using important-sounding legalese and flowery language.
Lawyers now focus their skills on providing intelligent business solutions for their clients, assisted by tech, which adds real and measurable value.
In 2018 statutes used to be written in an old-fashioned language that was difficult to understand without legal training.
The Statute Conversion Act of 2022 meant that all statutes have now been converted into code – which can then be automatically integrated into a raft of legal software and precedents.
AI Bots which understand the statute code can translate it into a way that the general public can easily understand. Lawyer Bots can ask a series of questions and offer practical advice based on applicable laws. Access to knowledge and answers has never been easier, or more effective.
Women in the Law
Since the Gender Equality charter of 2018 was introduced, it has meant that all law firms must be supportive of working mothers, and cannot discriminate against them. Women know they receive fair pay compared to their male peers.
Flexibility is key – and remote workers are able to do everything they were able to in the physical office. In fact, employees are even more productive because they can focus without interruption.
Employees are happier overall, because they get more family time due to flexible working arrangements.
Law firms have realised that the old pyramid scheme of male-dominated partnerships isn’t the way forward. The whole “partnership” structure is no longer used, and considered an ancient relic of the past.
Leaders in the law are now 60% female, which reflects the number of female to male graduates from law school.
Women are strongly supported in law and are highly valued for their abilities to multitask. Women no longer have to quietly “retire” when they decide to have children. It is no longer a taboo to have both children and leadership aspirations, and their rights to both are strongly protected by legislation.
Law firms of 2028 operate like modern businesses – and use smart online marketing strategies including lead-magnets, sales funnels and landing pages. Lawyers are required to have practical business knowledge so they can assist their clients better.
Around 2020, the New Zealand Law Society realised the profession was losing its best and brightest minds – as more individuals wanted flexibility and greater work-life balance, so avoided entering the law. The profession as a whole realised that things could not continue under the old model, and huge efforts were taken to protect the future of the profession.
Law firms began attracting the best candidates by focusing on employee wellness, and offering other incentives to invest in the business such as equity for all employees. New Zealand law firms became publicly listed companies, and law firms were more profitable due to being run like a business. Employee happiness became a large focus – as it resulted in productivity, ultimately benefiting the shareholders.
In 2028 working remotely is the new normal – with approximately 80% of all lawyers working from home. Internal emails are replaced with instant messaging, meetings are replaced with holo-conferencing. Lawyers can travel all over the globe in a day, using Virtual Reality and/or Augmented Reality.
The typical law firm of 2028 is virtual, and occasionally uses a shared office space with hot-desks and boardrooms. Costs saved in less overheads and less administrative staff is passed on to the clients.
Clients are market-savvy and will go to modern lawyers who can offer them flexible and cost-effective solutions. Cost is the biggest driver when choosing a lawyer and law firms have come up with innovative ways to offer packages for SMEs using automation.
Lawyers have embraced, and rely upon legal tech to deliver results the same way Xero had become a normal part of accounting practice in 2018.
Most large corporations have a “Lawyer Bot Library” of documents by Automio maintained by their lawyers. It means they can run a smart Lawyer Bot whenever they need a document, and can create customised documents instantly.
Law firms have turned their intellectual property such as precedents into intelligent Lawyer Bots – which can give customised advice and generate documents on the spot. A collaborative approach within the profession is the norm. Lawyers (particularly small practitioners) team up with other, to create and sell each others Lawyer Bots – offering more service to their client than ever before!
Better Access to Justice
Back in 2018, the Court System used to be clogged and impractical. Huge delays and high expenses were a barrier to justice.
Legal aid providers were overworked and couldn’t provide proper advocacy. Judge’s decisions could widely vary throughout the country. In short – the justice system wasn’t just.
In 2028, Legal Aid has been replaced with Lawyer Bots who can give cost effective and accurate advice – allowing individuals to make informed decisions.
Courts efficiencies have massively increased. When making a decision, Judges use an algorithm, which intelligently analyses relevant decisions. The Judge inputs some information – such as aggravating and mitigating factors in Criminal sentencing, and the algorithm provides a fair decision.
Due to the greater accuracy and higher quality of legal decisions, there are less appeals clogging up the system. Access to justice is swift, affordable and efficient.
The economy is flourishing as businesses can get fast effective solutions to their disputes – and don’t have to go out of business due to exorbitant legal costs.
The old-fashioned pomp and pageantry of the legal profession has all but disappeared – replaced with streamlined efficiencies.
Courts are now highly efficient as submissions and other stages of litigation are streamlined with technology. Pleadings are no longer manually drafted and filed, but automated and analysed using AI.
Mediation is now assisted with smart AI Bot Mediators – which can understand the problem between the parties, and can help to negotiate an acceptable outcome in a short amount of time. This results in a huge amount of cases being settled outside of Court – freeing up resources.
How Can YOU Start Building Your Law Firm of the Future?
Embrace Tech – Smart law firms are already getting an edge over their competitors by adopting legal technology. Identify ways to work smarter, by automating time-consuming activities, and spend human time on what truly matters to your client.
Be Flexible – Flexibility is key, the new generation of lawyers coming through highly value a good work/life balance. In order to attract and retain the best talent, firms should offer high levels of flexibility – including working remotely.
Support Women – As female graduates outnumber males, the future of law is female. Firms that support gender equality, and actively promote on merit – will be successful. Gender-based discrimination will no longer be tolerated in the future since the #MeToo movement of 2018. Firms that actively support working mothers will attract talent, and will be rewarded by having loyal, dedicated long-term employees.
Keen to start building your law firm of the future? See why so many innovative lawyers and firms are choosing to use Automio’s lawyer bot technology. Check out our latest customer success story with Kinny Legal here or book a free online demo with one of our team here.