Legal Tech for a Change Project
Legal Tech for a Change Project (“LTC”) is a partnership between the American Bar Association's ("ABA") Center for Innovation and the Legal Services Corporation, which is set to launch on April 30, 2018. One of the LTC's objectives is to get cutting-edge technology into the hands of America’s legal aid providers in order to increase their capacity to serve more clients. Furthermore, the LTC aims to allow legal technology companies to demonstrate how their products and services can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of legal service providers. Forward thinking legal companies involved in the LTC, such as dealcloser, are contributing to the transition towards optimum productivity in practice.
Together, the ABA’s Center for Innovation and the Legal Services Corporation seek to facilitate the adoption of legal technology necessary for highly efficient firms. For each new technological advancement, a high level of analysis and review is essential before lawyers can implement it. A lawyer’s professional obligations demand little risk taking, with a tendency to stick with what they know works. This creates tension between the risk aversion in the legal profession and the ever-changing demands and expectations of legal service consumers. This pressure exists because not all law practices have kept up with advances in legal technology. The LTC aims to connect legal innovators and legal aid providers. Legal aid organizations often find it difficult to create budgets and select legal technology partners. The LTC aims to make this process easier by sorting through the available solutions in the market and offering legal aid providers services that align best with their operational needs.
Laws and ethical practices continue to evolve in a world that is now heavily influenced by technology. More clients can be reached by legal service providers by creating a platform such as the LTC that enables legal aid providers to run more efficiently. The LTC deputy director and counsel at the Center for Innovation, Chase Hertel, explains that the project’s focus is “getting good operational technology into the hands of LTC grantees to help increase their efficiency.” In addition, legal technology companies benefit. These organizations are often founded by lawyers who have a personal interest in improving access to justice. By participating in the program, legal technology companies not only have a means to contribute, but they also receive feedback on their products from lawyers and entities whose primary mission is serving more clients with fewer resources. While legal technology is slowly becoming more common throughout the US, there are already many firms that are benefiting from legal technology adoption.
There are many examples of lawyer-entrepreneurs exploiting the opportunities that legal technology creates. Linklaters has embedded efficiency so firmly into its business operations that it is changing the way its lawyers view their work and their clients. “The work is less about using big armies of lawyers and more about taking advantage of legal technologies and other innovations to be more efficient,” says Laurence Muscat, Linklaters’ head of business improvement. Some firms can now be identified as digital law firms. An example of this is a UK-Canadian firm, Gowling WLG, which plans to digitise all its practices.
Over the next decade, the practice of law will experience a major technological shift. The Legal Tech for a Change Program provides exposure to legal technology while allowing more clients to benefit from legal aid. The legal innovation lies in how firms adopt these methods and adapt to them.