Great to chat with Giles Beckford of Radio New Zealand's Business News recently about the opportunities legal document automation creates for New Zealand's predominantly smaller legal practices.
You can listen to the interview here:
A transcript of the interview is set out below:
Gyles Beckford: Well let’s turn to the legal profession, and it would seem that the local law industry could be in for a shake up from a digital disrupter in the same way that the accounting sector has been. The challenge comes from a recently started company LawHawk, headed by Gene Turner, a former partner of a major local law firm. LawHawk is offering cloud based legal document templates which can be customised in a relatively short time. This would replace the time consuming drafting, reviewing, and redrafting of documents, usually done by junior lawyers, which of course is also expensive and may account for the lack of progress in the profession of such digitisation. But Gene Turner says far from hurting the economics of small law firms, it could help them develop.
Gene Turner: I think, for the legal profession, they’ve got the same opportunity in front of them to spend less time pulling the initial draft of a document together and spend more time actually sitting down with their clients working on strategy, negotiation or just what is it about this particular deal that needs to be tweaked to make it work really well in practice. So I think that the smaller firms here probably have more opportunity …than some of the bigger firms because… most of the legal profession in New Zealand is very small firms. I think 85% are 5 lawyers or less in the firm, and over half are sole practitioners, so they can pretty much make their own mind up about what they want to do, and how they want to do it, and if they choose to move into using technology, because of all the software as a service offerings that are around now, you could pretty much change your entire practice in a couple of weeks if you wanted to. And so the opportunity is there to work very differently from how lawyers have worked in the past, learn new skills, and add a lot more value than perhaps they currently are.
Gyles Beckford: That’s Gene Turner of LawHawk, and he says the increasing use of digital law services overseas is likely to spread here and help to go some way to providing more equal access to legal services than before.