5 Things in LegalTech: The One Innovative Trait Lawyers Need + The Future of AI Law

Your time is short. This quick read gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.


Top US Legal Educator reveals One Trait Innovative Lawyers Need Today 

Professor William Henderson

Professor William Henderson has been named among the most influential names in legal education, and has founded analytics tech startup Lawyer Metrix, as well as research company Legal EvolutionIn a podcast, Daniel B. Rodriguez, University School of Law Professor, asks him for the one trait innovative lawyers need today. Henderson says today’s innovative lawyer still needs “sophisticated understanding of law” but “the key is being able to collaborate with multiple professionals.” He says “we are entering into these higher order complex problems and we are going to have to solve them with other disciplines besides pure law.”


Lack of LegalTech hurting Big Law firms

Lack of LegalTech adoption is hindering big law firms, according to a new report “Global Trends In Hiring Outside Counsel” reported in Legaltech News. The report finds that more than half of General Counsel and senior in-house lawyers work with smaller firms because they are more innovative. Rhys Dipshan writes: “While larger firms may have more capital to purchase and implement legal technologies, smaller firms are more receptive and able to bring such changes in-house in the first place.”  Technologies are also stepping in to help outside counsel choose law firms – including Globality (which commissioned the report), Qualmet, Dentons, and NextLaw In-House Solutions. Many of these LegalTech solutions are featured in the free In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyers Guide.

One firm that appears to be deploying LegalTech proficiently according to Ron Friedmann, a legal journalist, is UK-based Mishcon de Reya. In a blog post he notes that the firm has launched an eDiscovery unit, a cyber consulting business, and MDR LAB – a legal tech-startup incubator. The firm provides sets of structured lease data to clients and launched a case management and collaboration tool, called Everchron.



#MyPathtoLaw explodes on Twitter

Lawyers took to Twitter in force after a global campaign was started by Dr Matthew Channon from the University of Exeter in the UK, an expert on the legal considerations of autonomous vehicles. Dr Channon invited people to share with the world their journey to law. Reported by Lawyers Weekly, the hashtag trended on Twitter as lawyers provided advice to those pursuing a law career. Dr Channon tweeted: “Doing a lot of work at Exeter on Pathways to Law, I want to help make law not seem so far away as it seemed for me. I was the first child in my family to go to uni and wasn’t from a privileged background. I would love to hear some of your #mypathtolaw stories.”



The Future of AI Law 


In Artificial LawyerRichard Tromans describes  a new report from Microsoft which says that “the emergence of AI Law as a Legal field is inevitable.” The authors, Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft, and Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Artificial Intelligence and Research, consider how the law will intersect with AI. Tromans concludes: “What’s clear, from the report, is that in the future a law firm telling its clients that it has an ‘AI law sector group’ will be very, very normal.” He adds “Not only will there be AI lawyers practicing AI law, but these lawyers, and virtually all others, will rely on AI itself to assist them with their practice.”

In a detailed article on AI in the Legal Profession, Sergii Shcherbak of Synch (a law firm focused on innovation and technology) agrees regarding the present and future of this technology. He comments that “AI is in the top three trending words in the LegalTech domain giving way only to ‘GDPR’ and ‘blockchain’.” He provides an overview of a number of leading AI Law technologies.

But there may be one area of Legal AI that is proving problematic — software being used to predict recidivism. According to research from Dartmouth College, reported by Ian Lopez in Legaltech News, the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) risk management tool is no more accurate at predicting recidivism than individuals with “little or no criminal justice expertise.” In the research, COMPAS recorded 65.2 percent accuracy which were “statistically the same” as that of the group of non-experts (67 percent).



Blockchain contract startups of the week

“We are in the very early days of blockchain impacting the way we practice law” write David Perla and Sanjay Kamlani in Above The Law.  “But early examples where it has been implemented — from automobile insurance to sophisticated financial transactions to more modest peer-to-peer sharing of home products — suggest that the coming change could be dramatic.” They report on startups including Everledger which uses blockchain and smart contracts to reduce risks among contracting parties (an early use has been ensuring conflict diamonds are not involved in an agreement where a conflict-free commitment has been made). Meanwhile, OpenLaw is building a platform for parties to create and execute legal agreements in a more transparent manner.

In another piece, Ed Sohn interviews Amy Wan – a “legal hacker” and co-founder of Bootstrap Legal – who is building a dispute resolution infrastructure for smart contracts. Wan, a former general counsel and law firm partner says: “What we are doing is important because users of smart contracts today don’t have transactional confidence.”

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