A recent survey, completed in the US by Ari Kaplan Advisors, found that there is a significant gap in lawyers’ knowledge concerning legal tech.
The survey discovered that many lawyers in the US only consider legal tech within the context of cybersecurity and the understanding of eDiscovery, as opposed to focusing on the issue of strategic technologies within the law industry.
According to an article by the Artificial Lawyer, the research suggested that legal tech “was something for the ‘younger generation’ to understand and make use of, suggesting that some older lawyers have to some extent decided they won’t be able to engage with the new wave of legal technology now spreading through the market.”
The obviously worrying point here is that, legal firms are likely to be missing out on vast opportunities while waiting for the “younger generation” to infiltrate management positions before new technologies are implemented or a legal tech strategy realised. It is also possible that senior partners have passed the buck to these upcoming lawyers, without giving them the authority to instigate change, which can only lead to problems for all involved.
The focus on cybersecurity by older lawyers highlights their lack of understanding around the issues of legal tech, suggesting that the need for training and education around these subjects is essential for all lawyers within a firm.
However, it was noted in the survey that many lawyers who participated were very focused on eDiscovery (the electronic aspect of identifying, collecting and producing electronically stored information (ESI) in response to a request for production in a law suit or investigation). Although this form of technology has been available for some years, the fact that it featured in the survey shows it is still considered a key issue. It highlights a positive approach to tech in order to perform litigation materials analysis, which can be considered a step in the right direction.
When considering AI within the survey, which was defined within a broad range from predictive coding to contract analysis, there was a keen interest in education with 29% of the group suggesting there was a need for coursework on the subject.
The possibility that the results of the survey seemed slightly skewed towards certain topics such as, cybersecurity, could be due to the practical application of AI being less familiar to legal professionals than say cybersecurity, which is familiar to much of the wider population. While those who work within the legal tech industry have a good grasp on what legal AI systems are capable of, many partners and older members of legal firms, are still relatively in the dark when it comes to new advances with IT and AI.
These problems, highlighted by the study, show that there is a genuine need for education and training for legal professionals, whatever their position within the firm. IT training courses can offer assistance on how to securely store information for the private sector, how to work within the laws relating to electronic communications, e-signatures and legal transactions, and the use of social media platforms and copyright issues.
While some lawyers are still not sufficiently knowledgeable when considering IT and AI, the findings of the survey do suggest that there has been an awakening to the need for education within this fast-changing sector.