LawFuel spoke with law tech pioneer Claudia King about her views on how kiwi law firms are dealing with developments in legal technology and artificial intelligence, as well as how in-house counsel are responding to the law tech opportunities.
Taranaki-based Claudia King was one of the first Kiwi lawyers off the law tech rank with her Legal Beagle online law offering. Although based out of her ‘old law’ firm at Derek King Law, it provided a virtual service to clients nationally.
She has since launched Automio, an automated documentation product that is gaining ground fast with lawyers and others. She also recently won an individual award recognising what she had done with Atomio at the Janders Dean LexisNexis Legal Index 2017.
LawFuel spoke with Claudia King about her views on law technology in New Zealand and how it is changing the legal landscape. She has some key words of advice about how law firms should handle the growth in legal technology and artificial intelligence.
The first thought is to talk with clients rather than making decisions themselves, which may be a shot in the dark.
Law firms are not usually known for their expertise in strategic thinking and when it comes to legal technology there is a whites-of-the-eye fear that they simply don’t know where to tread first. The key is to develop a plan that comprises a strong digital element as part of what they will build.
“They need to really get into their heads about what it is they actually want.” Law firms have a tendence to focus on the bottom line without necessarily looking at what is actually required. And fear is one factor that prevents firms talking to clients, she says.
” A lot of firms also assume they know what their clients want, often because they’re secretly afraid to speak to their clients on this level out of fear their clients will provide negative feedback. Once firms know what their clients want, they can start their strategic planning.”
She has always firmly favoured client surveys and does so with Legal Beagle after the completion of each matter, seeking advice and ideas on how things might be improved. Instead of fearing complaints – too expensive, too slow, too inaccessible and the other standard beef about lawyers – clients will respond favourably to being asked what they would like to see from their law firm and to provide some free advice themselves.
But firms should start using technology and trying out new technologies using what she calls “digital champions”.
Small Firm Flexibility
Smaller firms have been well positioned to adopt new technology through their flexibility and will
generally have a better chance to successfully adopt them.
“Smaller firms have a better chance of successfully adopting new technologies
faster because they can make quick decisions as they don’t have to spend months or years planning.”
The ability of smaller firms to start using technology has been demonstrated by the growth or founding of such firms as JunoLaw, Lenovo and others.
“Small firms don’t have various committees to get new technology approved before it can be used. Smaller firms should take the same approach as outlined above, but they will move much faster.”
But inhouse teams need a “kicking” she says.
“Inhouse teams also need a kick in the pants when it comes to using technology, and they need to choose a team of digital champions to start familiarising themselves with the different technologies out there and start giving them a whirl.”