What Lawyers Need to Survive in this Age of Smart Technology

As successive generations of smart technology take over more complex legal tasks, there is speculation that computers may render lawyers obsolete one day. So how can lawyers utilise new technologies to their advantage? And how can professional skills and experience be tailored to build a tech-proof legal career?

The convergence of key social and economic drivers have forged unprecedented changes in the legal industry over the last decade. Rapidly advancing ‘smart’ technology has met the increasing demand for commoditisation of even the most specialised professions like law, and it shows no signs of slowing.

It may be said with some certainty that a lawyer’s role as we know it will be unrecognisable in coming decades. In the meantime, lawyers wanting to build a successful and resilient career will need to learn to float above the rise of technology and sail the market tides.

Here are four tips to survive the onslaught of smart technology.

1. Harness automation

Don’t try to resist change. Keep your practice afloat by utilising the latest technology available. The current consumer demand for lower fees, fixed fees, ‘instant’ legal products and virtual service offerings can only be met by the skilful utilisation of smart technology.

2. Don’t be satisfied with legal knowledge

Legal tasks can be automated, but the skills to craft a successful business around them is the genesis of a truly great firm. Increase your buoyancy by educating yourself in marketing, technology and business development. Such skills can help you incorporate time and cost-saving technologies and novel business models into your practice to deliver better and cheaper legal services.

3. Take your practice where technology can’t go

There’s one thing smart technology can’t be: human. The ability to show, withhold and perceive emotion cannot be performed or solved with a mathematical algorithm. Therefore, why not develop your own niche market around specific skill sets and practice areas that by their very nature require human-specific intervention.

4. Become a force of change

Why not cross over into the innovators’ circle and help drive the next generation of legal-practice technology? There is much success to be had in the development of new applications and software designed to ‘think’ like a lawyer. If you are inclined to dabble in a bit of code, why not consider capitalising on your ideas in conjunction with a colleague or software developer?

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzkyonce said, “Skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Keeping pace with technology will keep you from sinking, but setting your course ahead of it will enable you to rise above smart technology and navigate a truly successful career in law.


Stacey Leeke is a litigation lawyer and freelance writer with a background in professional indemnity and insolvency law practice. She has over nine years experience in the legal industry in both Australia and Canada.

Stacey currently writes for a number of online and print based publications, specialising in analytical critiques on new developments in the law as well as commentaries on current industry trends and best practice.

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