DailyPost 2316

What is the biggest challenge to the legal profession today? Ironically, it is legal technology. Given the nature of products hitting the market, the most recent generic one being ChatGPT, which way the tech would unfold is getting clearer by the day. Disrupt or be disrupted seems to have become the mantra, to survive and prosper, you need to have tech shot in your arm, but you can die too, shot by tech, if you are on the other side of the emerging tech. Lawyers tryst with tech has not been anything noteworthy so far, it has generally been thought that they can manage without tech.

Today, given the nature of changes all around, they are being forced to change, or at least give away their resistance. Drudgery, cost, time, largely mechanical work and at times its known futility has forced them to think of what tech can do for them? Conversely, if they don’t get onto this bandwagon, what can be the consequences? Tech has become a tsunami, can the might of legal profession be able to stall it? No, is an emphatic answer. What is legal tech then? It is the use of tech tools of different types to change every single activity in the legal profession, may be only leaving aside physical presence of lawyer in the court.

It also includes the revolutionizing the access to law, its democratization, transparency and clarity on effort and time. The Black Box of lawyer’s mind should not in any way be replaced by the Black Box of technology in its algorithmic and artificial intelligence form, of which there are indications already. From enactment of law to its delivery to the last mile, to its impact on the litigant citizen, changes would be visible, conspicuous and path breaking. Lawyers can’t be bystanders when the new edifice of law is being built. The “legal drudgery” what is euphemistically called research, preparation, drafting and document creation has to do go.

Each of these activities are highly priced. Most of the times, unfortunately, they are shown as final products to the client, when it is not. Will FinTech model work, now that is been hugely successful? How about an end-to-end SAP type legal ERP? Will standardization do the magic? Then massive use of machine learning and artificial intelligence on the diligently created historical data, knowledge repositories, major data bases working on interoperability and also integration, wherever required. Data will be the killer. Technology always wins, the learnings of the Kodak saga should never be forgotten. We are at a legal inflection point. Technology leads, law follows, it has never been the other way round. The world waits for a massive legal tech revolution with a bated breath.

Sanjay Sahay

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