Event Review | AFR Summit 2017 | What do innovation and technology mean for the future of the legal marketplace?

Article written by TLF (NSW) Board Member, Angela MetriThe recent AFR Summit gave the public an opportunity to better understand the opportunities and perhaps come to terms with the anxiety felt by many in a global economy that is shifting faster than you can say 'newspeak'. It can mean opportunity for players in the legal industry. But that means change - vital in a successful business process. It has been successful for some, even if only incrementally. But the legal industry must respond to the urge to nurture the competitive advantage that derives from our ambitious, educated workforce and wealth of natural resources.Changes So FarBig changes to the industry have not gone unnoticed.Expansion of the legal arm under full service accounting firms has proven to be hugely successful for larger clients who enjoy the one stop shop solution, particularly as a seamless and economical answer to opportunity and risk prevention. Clients no longer have to go to different service providers to understand financial or legal risks or structural business concerns. I understand this is not necessarily a practical avenue for law firms, whose services are deliberately legalistic (particularly in areas like litigation), but I do think that law firms could consider creating new offerings to allow forward-thinking .There are some brilliantly devised tech-based answers such as Law Path, LegalVision, Litimetrics as well as spaces for younger professionals to create discussion and awareness and drive change from a grassroots level (see The Legal Forecast). Tertiary institutions have begun to play their part by introducing electives for law students to better understand the digital world they will be working in, and law firms are redesigning offices to create working environments conducive to collaboration and better client relationships.Legal analytics have also paved a solid path in the legal industry with statistical big-data analysis, collecting and aggregating important commercial information from court decisions and government documents and making the information available through a user-friendly database. Other AI services deploy data mining and analysis to determine individual lawyer win rates before judges.The College of Law has introduced The Centre for Legal Innovation, acting as an incubator for research, discourse and discussion on the impact and practical application of the changes taking place in the legal industry.Relatively recent opportunities for young professionals like the Disrupting Law competition, startups have made a name in the legal industry creating broader opportunities for client access and serviceability, using applications like Facebook messenger to communicate with clients.Collaborating on Solutions for the Future: Necessity As The Mother of InventionThese initiatives have proven resourceful, but for them to be fully effective, the stakeholders in the legal industry would benefit from solutions being given a collaborative and innovative stage. The most successful products in the legal marketplace reflect thoroughly considered design for the future rather than a fusillade of ad hoc answers. Industry players can begin to consider one stop solutions; platforms for collaboration; a system that thrives on new opportunities between networks rather than answers to clients that rely on competition and risk. This offers so much more than just narrow process efficiency.Collaboration and awareness for innovative legal products (like those mentioned above) will prevent stagnancy and create a future platform for innovation in the marketplace, expanding the framework of services offered and redefining a client’s experience with the legal industry.