Future focus in legal: perspectives from industry leaders (part 1)

1 August 2017

In the lead up to our Human v Cloud: Computing the People factor of legal services event series, we asked some of our panellists a few warm-up questions to provide a taste of the discussion at the events.

To read Part 2 of this post, click here.

Do you think that the focus on technology in the legal industry detracts from the realities of the actual job?

Marcus McCarthy - Principal | Nexus Law Group

There is an over-emphasis on technology and 'innovation' that does not actually change or improve the working life of lawyers or improve service delivery outcomes for clients. We are in a second dot.com boom and the extreme, misplaced focus on digital innovation is detracting from the realities and requirements of the legal role and in some cases, undermining the profession as a whole. There needs to be shift in focus to positive innovation that support legal practice and client outcomes, instead of marketing hype. We need to support our profession from within, with process improvements that support the legal function, not look to technology that undermines the profession or disrupts us from without. The profession should not support anything that does nothing to improve either the working life of lawyers or actual outcomes for clients – that is disruption, not true innovation.

How do you ensure the right balance between technical competence (ie be more efficient with automation) and effective communication to connect with clients (ie the personal touch)?

Aaron McDonald – Director | Pragma Legal

To ensure lawyers receive the right balance between technical competence and effective communication with clients, lawyers should begin with the end-result in mind. This means delivering an excellent service. In order to achieve this lawyers should have good checklists in place when taking instructions and drafting documents through automated processes, ensuring they obtain complete instructions and using good quality precedents to deliver the product that helps achieve their clients' aims.

Tobias O'Hehir - Barrister's Clerk & Practice Manager | Greenway Chambers

Website and newsletter subscriptions are an automated process that enable companies to reach wider audiences. Whilst the first point of contact is delivered by automation the follow up is done by the professional, this provides the human touch which is crucial in developing and maintaining client relationships.

Emily McCarthy - Principal & Head of Talent | Lexvoco

I believe that the first step to balance between technical competence and effective communication with clients is always in having the correct system in place. Having a process in place means you are ticking the technical competence box, which then allows you the space to keep up personal and effective communications with clients. From here, you can determine how and when to communicate in a process-driven way.

The classic example is our email inbox. We simply cannot keep on top of the hundreds of emails we receive every day and certainly can't continue effective communication with clients, unless we have efficiencies in place. The right balance lies in having a good system to manage your inbox, from there your response times and what you can say can be personalised, on time and more effective.

This is the same for all our communication with clients – it should start with a process.

Adrian Cartland – Principal | Cartland Law

There is no such thing as human vs machine. Neither could exist without the other: they are symbiotic. The power of technology is to leverage the abilities of humans. To automate the mundane and the repetitive, and to leave for humans the empathic, the creative and the contextual. And thus turn the ordinary into the superhuman.

Discover the full findings from our survey and panel discussions in Human v Cloud: 2017 Roadshow Report

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