There’s a lot of talk these days about disruption of industries and how AI and robots will make pretty much everyone unemployed by the end of the week. The legal industry has realized that it too is exposed.
This makes a lot of sense if you think about some of the more unexciting tasks of a law firm associate, legal researcher or court clerk. Collecting, searching through, producing and to some extent even analyzing written information is something that a computer can do much more efficiently than any straight A law graduate and legal professionals shouldn’t even try to compete with this development.
Instead of worrying about how legal tech will affect the number of billable hours or the “mystique” of the legal profession, all decision makers in our industry should embrace this change and see it for what it is; an opportunity to do less boring work and focus on more strategic, creative and sophisticated tasks. This has been pointed out in more LinkedIn-posts than I can count, but I would like to take it one step further. This is not just an opportunity to do less boring work; it’s an opportunity to let technology do a thousand times the boring work you could ever manage on your own – and to make some good money out of it.
Everything that’s boring with your job should be considered for digitalization
Think about what makes a task boring. It’s often monotonous, repetitive and governed by strict rules without room for creativity. These are also criteria that make a task suitable for algorithms and digital solutions. So why don’t you build them!? If up until now you’ve been able to bill your client, or collect salary from your employer, for doing something that really should be handled by a computer then why not build a tool that completes that task in a fraction of the time and then sell it to 200 companies with the same need as your client or employer? You might not be able to charge as much for the software as you did for your time, but 200 x half the price is still a lot better than 1 x the full price.
I would argue that everything that’s boring with your job should be considered for digitalization. Make a list of the ten most boring tasks that you spend time on. Think about how much it costs to have you handle them, how many persons like you there are on the market and how a software would have to function to offload at least the bulk of the work. Then ask a developer friend (you should get more of those!) for a rough estimate of building that software and then either pitch it to your boss as a new potential revenue stream or quit your job and start up your own business.
When the new Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) came into effect last year it caused a lot of headache for publicly traded companies, with loads of manual administration and steep fines for even the smallest mistakes. We at the legal department of the Serendipity Group developed our digital tool InsiderLog as a direct response to this, initially to solve our own problem. But we quickly realized that there was a market with the same need as ourselves and in just over half a year more than 120 publicly traded companies have started using InsiderLog to save time and ensure compliance.
So instead of putting our heads down and struggle through this new workload, we built something that not only does the work for us but that has also turned the legal department into a profit center. I’m happy that my boss bought the pitch, because otherwise I really do think that I would have had to quit my job.