Trends That Are Shaping The Legal Industry’s Future

By

Suhayla Ralick

The legal industry, much like the world it serves, has undergone significant transformations over the years. From the traditional image of lawyers in dimly lit courtrooms to the modern legal landscape shaped by technology and global connectivity. Times indeed have changed.

Incorporating technology in the Legal World

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its interplay with traditional legal practices are key drivers of change in the legal industry. Rushika Paulas, Director of Stakeholder Relations at LPO Solutions, emphasizes the awareness among lawyers about the impact of AI and technology on their roles. “Lawyers are very much conscious about the impact on their roles with how AI and technology are interplaying with their jobs,” she notes.

Embracing technological advancements is crucial, as highlighted by Rushika. “I think lawyers really have to keep up with the pace of technological advancements,” emphasizing the necessity for legal professionals to stay alongside the latest tools and innovations. “Those that are left behind would find it hard to succeed in the future if they don’t keep up to date with what’s going on and move with the times.”

 

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According to a recent Wolters Kluwer research, nearly three out of four lawyers (73%) said they plan to use generative AI in their legal work within the next year. The legal industry’s embrace of technology not only improves efficiency but also expands its global reach. “If we optimize the ways lawyers do things, there would be less waste,” highlighting the need for streamlined processes, where simplicity is key to keeping clients happy and informed.

The Shift in Legal Pricing

Furthermore, fee arrangements are gaining traction as the focus shifts from mere time spent to delivering valuable results. In a conversation about productization in the legal field, Rushika advocates for a value-based approach, stating, “I think it should be value-based,” rejecting the notion of time-based billing. Rushika asserts that such a model fails to optimize efficiency, “Your lawyer should be working as hard as possible for you so that you get the best service and also the best value for that service.” This perspective reflects a broader trend within the legal profession, where a shift towards value-based pricing not only enhances efficiency but ensures that clients receive optimal service.

The shift towards value-based pricing in the legal profession gains significance when considering the compensation of Senior Lawyers in the United States, averaging $297,984 annually. Very senior lawyers often charge hourly rates surpassing $1,000. Embracing value-based models becomes essential, aligning costs with the actual value of legal services and preventing clients from facing hefty bills, especially for tasks that may involve more administrative work.

Shifting from Archaic Legal Jargon to Simple Language

An interesting observation revolves around the language used within the legal industry. “Some lawyers still tend to draft documents in ancient English that we don’t even use anymore,” pointing to certain professionals still residing in the olden age when they need to adapt to modernization. Contrastingly, Rushika advocates for simplicity: “I personally draft all my documents in very simple English,” reflecting a conscious effort to bridge the gap in understanding. “I think that’s the gap we need to bridge, where people can easily understand the law.”

This issue extends to the potential alienation of clients through the unnecessary use of legal jargon. “Because sometimes what I feel is lawyers use overly complex language, use a lot of legal jargon and confuse clients,” underscoring the importance of clear communication. “Clients should be able to read your document, understand what the law is and its impact on their business. The point of a lawyer is not to confuse a client. The point of a lawyer is to make it accessible for any person to be able to understand.”

 

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This shift towards plain language in legal communication finds resonance in broader legal reforms. The Woolf Reforms in the UK, for instance, marked a departure from archaic English to simpler, modern language, emphasizing accessibility and clarity. This suggests a compelling case for a universal move towards clearer language across all jurisdictions, ensuring that legal documents are more comprehensible to the general public.

Conclusion

As lawyers adapt to the impact of technology, the integration of AI, and the imperative for efficiency, it is crucial to balance these changes with a commitment to clear and comprehensible communication. By embracing modern language and leveraging technology wisely, the legal industry can optimize its processes and ensure that legal information is accessible and understandable for clients. Thereby, fulfilling the true purpose of legal representation.