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Legal Tech’s Past and Future: Welcome to a New Customer Experience

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In a recent blog post, we discussed how innovation in legal tech is driving impact and scalability in the legal community. Today we’re digging into how technology is empowering customers at every economic level to take charge of their legal needs and how to harness the demand for new types of legal services to grow. We gathered insights from an expert panel from Aumni’s recently hosted a webinar on the subject of “legal tech” to address some of the trends and questions in this space right now.

Putting the client’s needs first drives innovation.

When it comes to innovation in the legal sector, considering your customer’s needs is of particular importance. Mitch Zuklie, CEO and Chairman at Orrick broke down his firm’s approach to innovation into four key areas:

1) Providing creative solutions and truly problem solving for the client. This can mean rethinking standard offerings. If there’s an entirely different approach that's better for investors, that’s a form of very client centric innovation.

2) Understanding the technological landscape. Then, applying that understanding where it can bring process improvements, quality improvements or better value for the customers.  

3) Incubating technologies -- for instance, with an in-house development shop. This is as an opportunity to spin off and launch solutions to client challenges.

4) Keeping people as part of the mix. It’s imperative to have humans who are deeply conversing in the best practices across VIP clients and can explain that in non-technical terms to people who are making purchasing decisions.

An example of this innovative approach to business solutions Mitch gave is Joinder, a new offering from Orrick.

It’s very hard for in-house legal departments to manage their interactions with lots of different law firms, and much of their data is stored in email in an ineffective way. There has to be a platform that enables that giant in-house legal department to control the cadence and the way their information is stored and the way they can access it...The concept of empowering the customer who has got a ton of valuable data out there to find ways to manage it better and to pull data out of it, is really the key to everything.

Zach Posner, Managing Director at The LegalTech Fund, agreed, saying that the tech that's most exciting is the tech that is actually powering the clients of the law firm: the end users. “The [projects] that we're looking at are not in the traditional LegalTech bucket. They span into FinTech, Property Tech, and lots of GovTech, RegTech. Everybody's thinking about innovating within and how they make their experience better but very few folks from the legal world are thinking about how they make the clients experience better.”

Making legal services accessible to all.

One of the biggest impacts that legal tech can have on a larger scale is to make legal services and the ability to support business and personal decision-making available to everyone, leveling the playing field. Access to legal services and intelligent processes, which help the individual user to complete necessary paperwork via a set of prompted questions, is now open to millions of users. Thanks to technology, legal services are no longer only for the wealthy.

Charlie Moore, CEO and Founder of RocketLawyer, provided the following example:

Rocket Lawyer started to make legal services affordable enough for everybody, much like Southwest makes air travel affordable enough for everybody, and, in order to do that, we had to leverage technology. It sounds like something very simple but it really started our process of leveraging the fact that we're all on the same network to start to make it simpler so that lawyers can provide a more affordable service [such] that consumers can do a lot themselves. But, again, the Rocket Lawyer mission was always to make it possible for consumers and small business owners to get legal help whether it was doing some things themselves or, more often, with the assistance of an attorney at a price they can afford. To do it, the lawyers had to be able to provide, for example, questions and answers and legal advice for $40, which is what we do.

Companies that place an emphasis on the client’s pain points and needs will find value in powerful analytics and data, in turn, allowing them to give more powerful advice to clients. We are seeing a transformation of the legal world from a cluster of PDFs to a new realm of innovation that utilizes data in conjunction with AI and smart processes to solve problems at a global level. In time, this will entail every document that touches our lives from lease agreements to commercial and financial documents.

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