Le­gal op­por­tu­ni­ties from our tech revo­lu­tion

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Analysis & Company Report - By­matthewm­c­kee, Man­ager, Foren­si­cand In­ves­ti­ga­tion­ser­vices @grant­thorn­tonni For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion or ad­vice, Matthew Mckee can be con­tacted at [email protected] Grant Thorn­ton (NI) LLP spe­cialises in au­dit, tax and ad­vi­sory ser­vices

It is now widely ac­cepted, and rightly so, that North­ern Ire­land is es­tab­lish­ing it­self as a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion. Ex­am­ples of this are re­ported on an al­most daily ba­sis.

Why then has the le­gal sys­tem not taken ad­van­tage of this tech­no­log­i­cal revo­lu­tion?

A pop­u­lar mis­con­cep­tion is that lawyers are against moderni­sa­tion.

This is not the case — but is there a lack of un­der­stand­ing of what’s out there?

A num­ber of com­mon myths amongst lawyers around the avail­abil­ity and use of le­gal tech­nol­ogy may be part of the prob­lem. Le­gal tech­nol­ogy is too ex­pen­sive and com­pli­cated. Wrong. As with most tech­nolo­gies to­day, ma­jor ad­vances have been made in re­cent years mak­ing world-lead­ing tech­nolo­gies more ac­ces­si­ble and user-friendly than ever be­fore.

Any lawyer that can draft and send an email can, with a min­i­mum of train­ing, use edis­cov­ery tech­nol­ogy to as­sist them. Le­gal tech­nol­ogy can only be used in cases of enor­mous value in­volv­ing mil­lions of doc­u­ments. Wrong. It may be cor­rect to say that most mat­ters that make the news or le­gal press in­volv­ing the use of tech­nol­ogy are high value and high pro­file.

That does not mean that these are the only mat­ters in which it is utilised. In­deed, most lawyers would be sur­prised at the size of the av­er­age tech­nol­ogy-as­sisted case — most of which would fit squarely into the value bracket dealt with by the com­mer­cial courts in North­ern Ire­land. Le­gal tech­nol­ogy is tak­ing the jobs of lawyers. Wrong. Even the most so­phis­ti­cated le­gal tech­nol­ogy cur­rently avail­able world­wide (all of which is ac­ces­si­ble by the NI le­gal mar­ket) is de­signed to as­sist lawyers — not to re­place them.

Ev­ery lawyer has ex­pe­ri­enced the mis­ery of wad­ing through hun­dreds or even thou­sands of doc­u­ments for a case, of­ten late at night or at the week­end.

Mak­ing this process eas­ier, faster and more de­fen­si­ble — ben­e­fit­ing both the lawyer and the client, is the cen­tral fo­cus of the le­gal tech mar­ket. Au­toma­tion can’t be trusted and has no place in the law. Wrong. There is no doubt that the prac­tice of law is closer to art than sci­ence — es­pe­cially when prac­ticed by the very best — but as with many as­pects of the mod­ern world, au­toma­tion and sci­ence can help the lawyer de­liver their art bet­ter than they ever have be­fore.

Pro­vid­ing the best pos­si­ble client ser­vice re­quires so­phis­ti­cated think­ing and sound hu­man judge­ment.

Why not then let tech­nol­ogy carry some of the heavy bur­den of wad­ing through in­for­ma­tion — free­ing the lawyer’s brain to do what it does best — in­ter­pret and ap­ply the facts at hand to en­sure the best pos­si­ble out­come for the client?

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