10 technologies that will disrupt traditional legal practice

At ILTA ’09 yesterday, Ron Friedmann ‘live blogged‘ (no, I didn’t just invent that term) a panel discussion on Technologies That Will Disrupt Traditional Legal Practice, lead by Richard Susskind. By all accounts, the session was very well received. Below is my take on some of Susskind’s key points. (If you’re interested in the future of legal practice I urge you to read Ron’s full post.)

What is disruptive technology?

In contrast to sustaining technology, disruptive technology seems to come from nowhere and disrupts the market. It’s not the technology itself that’s interesting, but rather its potential impact on existing business models (such as the billable hour).

Is it a threat or opportunity?

That, of course, depends on who you are. It provides an opportunity for innovators and customers, but is a threat for those that want to maintain the status quo. Susskind notes that law firms tend to be in the latter camp.

What is the role of document assembly?

Susskind’s view is that document assembly, along with other technologies, will transform the legal market over the coming years.

However, rather than internal document assembly (which many firms have had 20+ years’ experience with), he sees the real opportunity in external (i.e. client-facing) online services. It’s here that the economics are stronger as the volume of documents produced can be much higher.

And it’s disruptive because 1) it requires an upfront investment of time and money, and 2) when a document is produced by the system its value isn’t tied to the time required to generate it. [As noted by another attendee, David Hobbie, “it takes the lawyers out of the business of producing documents.“]

To learn about the other nine disruptive technologies mentioned by Susskind, and the law firm case studies presented by John Alber of Bryan Cave and Gerard Neiditsch of Mallesons, read the full posts from Ron and David.

To find out how document assembly can help strengthen your firm’s market position contact Exari.

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