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January 21 2019

Becoming familiar with legal technology

Industry Insights

Karanvir Sagoo

Becoming familiar with legal technology

What is legal technology?

Put simply, legal technology refers to the use of software to help provide legal services. Legal technology has been instrumental in the emergence of startups seeking to disrupt the traditional aspects of the profession.

What effect is technology having on the legal profession?

Whether it is law firms integrating technology-focused schemes or auditing firms buying lawtech firms, it is clear that the legal profession is having to emerge from its traditional, archaic tendencies.

Moreover, legal technology is also allowing creative students to explore the law from a technical perspective in law firms. A pioneer of this initiative has been Clifford Chance with their decision to offer a tech-focused ‘vac scheme’ as well as a lawtech training contract that leads to qualification as a solicitor.

Why is it important for students to explore legal technology?

A key incentive for students to explore legal technology is that major law firms are recognising the importance of technology within the profession. For example, in April 2018, Clifford Chance launched a Tech Academy which shows that they are actively encouraging students to take the initiative and learn more about this rapidly developing industry.

Furthermore, big legal tech hubs have been formed in the Silicon Valley, New York, Toronto and London. These are also being joined by tech-heavy clusters in places like Australia, Germany and Sweden. Given that legaltech has this global dimension, it will be interesting to see the trends that emerge within different areas of the world.

On a fundamental level, knowledge of legal technology can show recruiters that you are genuinely interested in how the profession is developing. Indeed, a good understanding of technology can be indicative of an individual’s commercial awareness.

How can students explore legal technology?

Coding is a great way for students to gain an insight into the technological and software aspect of legal tech. Although law firms aren’t looking for law students to be experts in coding, a basic understanding of popular concepts can put you at an advantage.

Another way of exploring legal tech is through work experience. While few startups offer official internships, there is no harm in taking the initiative and approaching them to see if you can gain some experience.

Last but not least, it is important to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in legal technology and the news surrounding it. The best way to do this is to keep reading! Legaltech websites and blogs are an excellent way of keeping up-to-date. Here are a few websites that I recommend:

-       https://www.legalgeek.co/

-       www.legaltechnology.com

-       http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/

In conclusion, it is clear that the legal profession is gradually acquainting itself with technology. With this in mind, an understanding of how legal technology is transforming the industry is only going to be an advantage for aspiring lawyers.