Predictions 2020: "Law will become personal again"

Nick Watson forsees that lawtech can improve the tech lawyer's quality of life

In a world of mental health awareness, I think we'll start to see more lawyers look beyond the law firm for opportunity, in order to offer a better quality of life. This is already happening as we see lawyers leave to start tech companies or take up in-house counsel roles at the expense of a salary cut. Technology can automate many of the undertakings paralegals or junior lawyers used to carry out. Even the project management, knowledge management, business development, international connections and other departments of a law firm can be handed over to technology.

Law firms are mitigating this risk by hiring more specialised roles around technology and project management, such as legal engineers and data scientists in order to deliver better efficiencies, but like with machine learning and how accessible Google, AWS and other data firms have made it, it's only a matter of time before user experience catches up and it suddenly becomes accessible to all.

I think 2020 will see traditional law firms start to struggle as technology-driven, automated and challenger law firms with more lawyer-focussed and less profit-focussed objectives will start to rise. Law will become personal again, we will see the rise of the freelance lawyer (especially now the Law Society have released their new "freelance lawyer" framework) and we will have technology to thank for supporting this.

Innovation has happened in 2017, 2018, 2019. Real transformation starts in 2020.

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Nick Watson, Managing Director, RubyDatum

Published: 2020-01-03T11:00:00

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