Last week, Victoria University’s Sir Zelman Cowen Centre hosted an excellent conference exploring themes of digital disruption in the legal profession.
It follows a recent Wired article which put the case that “the practice of law is one area of expertise that has remained stubbornly resistant to disruption”.
As a generalisation, lawyers do tend to be conservative and risk-averse. Their quest for perfection is at odds with the experimental approach that sees failure as a necessary part of development and innovation.
However, at last weeks conference many innovative themes and ideas emerged. There were lots of positive indications that the legal industry is ripe for disruption.
In 1965, Gordon Moore made a prediction that would set the pace for our modern digital revolution. From careful observation of an emerging trend, Moore foresaw that computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, at an exponential pace.
Today, a proliferation of technology is influencing consumer interactions and expectations.
Customers are becoming far less accepting of rigid processes when dealing with businesses, and legal firms are no exception to this. Many new startup law firms like Nest Legal are putting customers at the core of everything they do. In the process, they are redefining the customer experience.
Technology is driving significant changes in the way businesses operate and create products.
Organisations – even law firms and our legal system – are re-engineering and disrupting their own business model through innovation to keep up with the velocity of change, while continuing to create value.
This digital era has also created challenges and risks that didn’t exist two decades ago.
When assessing the implications of digital disruption, consider the fact that new digital business models are the principal reason why just over half of the names of companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000 – just 16 years ago!
There has also been a paradigm shift in the definition of disruption, and yet, we are only at the beginning of what the World Economic Forum calls the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, characterised not only by mass adoption of digital technologies.
The conference highlighted that many law firms will increasingly be using predictive analytics and see a lot of focus on technology, in areas such as blockchain, contract automation and artificial intelligence.
In the meantime, digital innovation is enabling an exciting wave of change for legal professionals willing to risk the ride.