For the longest time, the legal profession seemed immune to change — particularly in Asia. But the long overdue modernisation of the industry is now proceeding apace, creating a host of challenges and opportunities that are shaping the future of legal services.

In recognition of the rapidly evolving landscape, In-House Community hosted its inaugural Legal Inno’Tech Forum in association with Axiom in June. The event, which was also co-hosted by Blackberry and Navigant, brought together legal decision-makers and innovators to discuss these disruptive changes and share ideas on how to avoid being left behind.

Kirsty Dougan, head of Asia at Axiom, knows a thing or two about that. Welcoming the attendees, she shared her experience of pioneering a new, disruptive legal services model in Asia in 2010 — when she was told repeatedly that Asia wasn’t ready and that Axiom’s model couldn’t work.

Mitch Kowalski

Mitch Kowalski

Such attitudes were not surprising from an industry that had not changed much in more than a century. Today, preservation is all about innovation. The forum’s opening speaker, Mitch Kowalski, a Fastcase 50 Global Legal Innovator and author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, explained that tomorrow’s leading legal service providers will be those that take an enterprise approach to legal services — those who see law as a team sport.

“The current legal services delivery model is at the end of its natural lifecycle,” said Kowalski. “And the only people who don’t know it are members of the legal profession.”

That observation paved the way for the second session, which comprised a selection of the few legal professionals in Asia who not only recognise the mortality of the current model but are actively working to innovate new legal services.

The panel comprised Nick Seddon, director of Seddon And Co; Bill Novomisle, founder and chief design officer of In-Gear Legalytics; and Crystal Lalime, head of global markets legal for Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse; and was moderated by Dougan.

The first panel session

The first panel session

There was broad agreement that the traditional law firm model is no longer fit for purpose. As stock brokers and accountants recognised long ago, partnerships make it difficult to invest in technology and to be innovative, but law firms just can’t shake the habit. A big part of the problem, Novomisle argued, is that the billable-hour model means that inefficiencies are profitable.

Clients are not waiting for law firms to get their act together. Lalime and other in-house lawyers at major financial institutions, for example, are already investing significant sums in automation and technological solutions that can allow them to do more with less. As an added benefit, these innovations are also freeing in-house lawyers to spend more time with their internal clients, which means greater synergy and more added value.

Peter Connor

Peter Connor

However, it was not all doom and gloom for Big Law. In-House Community’s Patrick Dransfield cited the example of the music industry’s “Napster moment” as a potential source of optimism for law firms. Despite being completely oblivious to the changing preferences of their customers, the big four music labels have remained dominant even as the industry has been turned on its head by digital disruptors — from the original peer-to-peer sharing platforms such as Napster to Apple’s iPod and modern streaming services such as Spotify.

Outlining a more proactive approach, Peter Connor, founder and chief executive of Alternatively Legal, argued that lawyers will need to learn a range of non-traditional skills to adapt and thrive in the future. These include process improvement, technology, risk management, design thinking, project management, business partnering and change management.

The final panel session

The final panel session

The final session of the day took a more detailed look at some of the specific technologies that are shaking up the industry, including artificial intelligence, regulatory technology, data protection and e-discovery, with panellists Fred Chan, director of Navigant; Michael Lin, US patent attorney and partner at Marks & Clerk; Matthew Kendrick, general counsel for Daimler Greater China; Rebecca Bradburne, head of BlackBerry Workspaces for Asia-Pacific & Japan; and Ronald Yu, director of Gilkron.

 

 

Legal Inno' Tech Hong Kong Speakers In-house Community

Speakers at the Legal Inno’ Tech Forum, Hong Kong

Legal Inno Tech Forum LegalTech Asia In-House Community

Delegates answering a poll at the Legal Inno’ Tech Forum

[sharethis]
Related Articles by Firm
Statutory Registration of Standard Terms and Conditions in Tanzania
All companies doing business in Tanzania should know the salient points of the Standard Form (Consumer Contracts) Regulations 2014 which takes effect on 29 December 2015.
Tanzania Bill Establishing the Petroleum Act 2015
Tanzania's proposed Petroleum Act 2015 introduces key changes to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act 1980 and the Petroleum Act 2008.
Clasis Law (India) Newsletter August 2015
Analysis of the revocation of a company's drug patent and other key court rulings and updates on corporate and commercial matters
The new CIETAC Arbitration Rules 2015
The New Rules adopt both best practices and the latest developments in international commercial arbitration and accommodate the increasing needs of the parties arbitrating at CIETAC.
Tanzania: Prospecting for and mining of radioactive minerals
New uranium mining projects have recently been announced in Tanzania. This briefing looks at the legislative framework surrounding radioactive minerals in Tanzania.
Related Articles
Adding value to M&A deals
A lively panel of general counsel discussed the issue at the IBA’s M&A conference in Hong Kong.
Benchmarking the in-house team’s evolution
Lawyers are increasingly expected to be much more actively involved in risk management, technology, strategy and project management.
Berwin Leighton Paisner and Bryan Cave in talks to merge
The two firms have confirmed they are in discussions about combining to create a new, fully integrated, global law firm ...
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Latest Articles
UAE VAT Executive Regulation Update: Free Zone Guidance
The UAE Ministry of Finance has announced the Executive Regulation for the Federal Decree-Law ...
Canada: Intellectual Property Bulletin
The New Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations and Certificate of Supplementary Protection Regulations ...
Asset searches in the digital age
Social media and other technology are changing the way asset searches are conducted in a dispute ...