Allyse & Melissa
Nov 26, 2019 · 2 min read

Where is legal-tech heading?

Earlier this year, Hacker Noon published an article, “AI in Five, Fifty, and Five Hundred Years.” The three-part series outlined where technology could be at during the named intervals. Skeptical of predictions 500 years into the future? The author of the series, Daniel Jeffries, was too, stating that “[p]rediction is a tricky business.” Parts II and III read much like sci-fi novels. Given the exponential change that technology is seeing, that’s probably fair. Part I of the series, though, is noteworthy. It maps out how technology can shape our world in the near future. The series inspired us to wonder: where is legal-tech headed in the next five years?

Before asking “where are we going”, it’s important to know “where are we now”. Legal-tech isn’t the future, it’s already here. Technology-assisted due diligence and contract analysis are in use. Practitioners are rapidly (well, rapidly for legal) adopting technology solutions. Increasingly, tech companies are focusing on litigation. ROSS Intelligence utilizes AI to perform legal research. Blue J Legal predicts court outcomes for cases through AI. Although American players dominate the market, Canadian companies are rapidly onboarding. The Globe and Mail reports that the largest single round venture-capital financing in Canadian history now belongs to a legal-tech company: Clio.

We know legal-tech is here, but what’s next? ROSS Intelligence’s CEO and co-founder, Andrew Arruda says, “legal-tech is now hitting its stride, we are moving from the era of hype and potential to real products that are reshaping how lawyers practice, it is a very exciting and historic time in legal technology.” Jeffries predicts in his Hacker Noon article that the next five years will be dominated by “centaurs”. “Centaurs” are AI products working alongside humans. Technology doesn’t replace employees, it makes them super-human. Tasks are completed faster and more efficiently. Imagine the potential in legal-tech. Students utilize AI to research at the capability of an experienced lawyer. Lawyers enter client meetings with hard data on success probability. AI provides targeted training. The possibilities are expansive.

Predictably, with great technology developments comes great risk and responsibility. Jeffries warns AI remains “dual use”. At least two sinister uses lurk behind each positive AI enhancement. Beyond the ethical issues, technology disruptions bring about new challenges for the legal community. If lawyers don’t lean into the technological era, there is a serious potential to lose control of their monopoly and self-regulation. It’s time to evolve.

The best way to shape the future of legal-tech? Ensuring that legal minds are involved! Where should we go? What are the biggest problems legal-tech should tackle? The next five years will see change; we want to know how legal practitioners and legal-tech community members think these changes should unfold. When you think of legal practice in 2024, what does it look like to you? Message us on Twitter to tell us what your vision of the future is!

Yours in legal & tech,

Allyse Cruise & Melissa Craig