17 2024 June

Legal tech: the market niche in which lawyers have a lot to contribute

Rocio RamirezBy Rocio Ramirez

Recientemente Gartner shared his prediction for the legal tech sector.

The consulting firm predicts that in 2027 the legal technology market will be valued at the not inconsiderable amount of 50 billion dollars.

And the key driver is Generative AI.

I must admit that the news left me stunned. And since I read it, it hasn't stopped running through my head, because there is definitely a lot to do.

The arrival of Chat GPT has revolutionized the legal sector. Since then, there is not a single event that brings together professionals from the sector in which generative AI has not been trendy topic. And Copilot has finished putting the icing on the cake.

There is no doubt that this technology proposes a scenario that was completely unthinkable a couple of years ago. It allows us to solve specific needs of the sector that we could not finish solving with the tools that we had until now. In an industry in which the services offered are mainly nourished by an intellectual or cognitive component and require legal expertise for their performance, the potential it offers is clear. So Gartner's forecasts are not surprising.

But the implementation of Generative AI in the sector is still very early. And if in two years it is going to be the key for the legal technology industry to reach such astronomical figures, it will take a lot of driving force.

Although we are still in such an initial phase that it is difficult to imagine what future awaits us, for some time now a dizzying race has been underway to develop cutting-edge technological solutions that solve historical needs or pain points in the legal sector.

Because the legal tech industry is about that, solving needs or problems of legal professionals through technology.

And you are probably wondering, what role do we lawyers play here? But isn't this a technology thing? What role do we play in the astronomical growth of this industry?

Well, an essential one, that of transferring precisely those needs or problems.

We are the origin of everything. Root cause. The “why” of any development.

Because without a problem to solve, there is no solution to build, nor an industry that can grow.

Although the machinery begins to work from certain hypotheses, assumptions or suppositions about potential problems or needs of the profession, so that the technological solution that is built can become successful, and that it really adds value to legal professionals, It must be validated before beginning the ideation, definition and development process.

Field work begins here in which our intervention is a key piece, since we will be the ones who help confirm these assumptions. And in the event that they are not a real need or problem, we will help to invalidate them, preventing effort, time and resources from being invested in solutions that do not serve us.

Because technologists have the ability to find and build the solutions we need, but without a clear and detailed approach to the problem, they will hardly be able to find the result we need.

Although it may not seem like it, lawyers are an essential part of this process, and we have a lot to contribute.

We are the ones who must explain and describe in detail what problems we encounter daily when managing our work.

What tasks do not allow us to advance in the way we would like.

Where bottlenecks are generated.

To which tasks and activities we dedicate most of our capacity and time, we must explain in detail what our methodologies and work processes are.

We are so essential in this validation process that if we do not correctly convey the problem, if we do not describe it well, the solution will hardly be adequate.

Then will come other aspects as essential and important as whether the solution is viable, whether we will be willing to use the tool that is developed for that purpose, and most importantly for the industry, whether we will be willing to pay for it. But that is another matter, which would provide for a lot of additional literature.

The most striking thing of all is that contrary to what it may seem, legal technology providers are not exclusively involved in this race. Legal operators themselves, such as law firms, legal consultancies or ALSPs, are also taking part in it.

Last week I attended an event in which the General Counsel and Head of Legal of two top-level multinationals presented the roadmap on the development of GenIA solutions in which they were working together to solve internal problems of their legal departments. when generating documents and reviewing contract clauses.

Lawyers and roadmaps? This is definitely changing, a lot, too.

For those of you who are reading/hearing this concept for the first time, in product development, the roadmap is the planning that is done, usually divided by quarters/semesters, of the functionalities that are planned to be incorporated into the product in the next 18 , 24, 36 months, for example, and on which the development team must work.

It is a concept so specific to technological products that its mention in a presentation given by lawyers caught my attention.

Although I must admit that seeing the course that the legal services industry is taking, in which some of them are already offered as a product, the use of Product Management methodologies (not Project Management) does not seem so crazy to me either. Management), and the roadmap concept within the services/products strategy of an office. Although of course, with a completely different focus and approach.

Returning to the topic at hand, that of the development of legal technology, our contribution may not be limited solely to describing our needs, but we can also collaborate much more actively if we have certain technological knowledge, other than code or programming language, That's very different.

Knowing and understanding how the different tools or technologies that the market offers us can help us be more efficient, automate our tasks, how to combine them, their potential, their limitations, or their implementation methods, among other aspects, will help to begin to modulate and configure certain hybrid profiles, being able to aspire to roles with a legal background for the development of digital products, which are also a plus when it comes to landing on the real problem and modulating the solution, on which the operators of this industry go. to work.

Another question that worries me about Gartner's prediction is whether the legal tech sector is prepared to reach the value it predicts in just two years. Are there enough professionals to cover the demand that product development will require? And I'm not talking about engineers or developers anymore. I am talking about other basic profiles in this type of projects, such as, for example, Product Managers or Product Owners, profiles specific to the development of digital tools.

The Product Manager is responsible for the development of a product, identifying customer/user needs and functional requirements that the solution must incorporate to solve them, prioritizing them, so that the development team can work on them. He is also the one who defines the product strategy. And the Product Owner is the one who is responsible for ensuring that all the activities necessary to incorporate a certain functionality into a digital tool are developed and implemented appropriately and complying with the necessary criteria for its acceptance.

Needless to say, if these roles have a certain legal background (and we return to the hybrid profiles that we referred to before), they probably have a lot of value to contribute. Which leads me to question whether we have a new niche here for legal/technological profiles, which until now was limited to legal engineers, cybersecurity experts, legal prompts engineers, legal data analysts, legal knowledge engineer, legal technologist, etc.

Many questions in the air. And all of them are very difficult to respond to in this changing and dizzying environment that we are experiencing. But at the same time, so exciting.

We must be aware of the important role we play in the development of technologies that are helping to shape the lawyer of tomorrow.

The more we get involved, the better solutions the industry will provide us.