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Legaltech: Business Innovation Applied to Law

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

Daniel Acevedo, Senior Manager at EY Law

In this interview, Daniel Acevedo presents the main concepts of legaltech, the application of technology and business innovation to the legal world… Daniel Acevedo is a Senior Manager at EY Law Latam North. His career has focused on capacity building in legal operations and legaltech for the main law firms in Mexico and Colombia. He is a lawyer and has a master’s degree in technology and business.

What’s LegalTech?

Legaltech refers to the use of management methods and technologies from the fields of engineering and business administration to innovate in the exercise of the legal profession.

This typically results in some improvement in the business or in the service delivery model, either within a law firm or in a company’s legal department.

Although there is still no universally accepted definition of legaltech, within this field I include software developments applied to law, the optimization of legal processes and legal design tools.

How was legaltech born and how is it evolving?

Historically, the legal profession was detached from the administration and engineering sciences.

To some extent, this was due to the way the legal services market developed in the United States, where professionals from other disciplines were not allowed to participate in law firms.

The result was that all the people in charge of managing firms were lawyers. And they didn’t think it was important to recruit professionals in other areas such as process management or technology.

In recent years, however, the rise of legaltech brought tools and methodologies from other industries into the practice of law: a higher concern about the quality of legal services in aspects such as speed of delivery, clarity of concepts and the use of new communication channels.

For example, instead of sending the client a 300-page brief, why not give him a data visualization he can access from a web portal?

This is an example, among many others, of using technology to provide a better service to clients.

How does technology impact the work of lawyers?

Over the past decade, the world was radically transformed. The impact on our jobs and our lives is evident.

Years ago, we wouldn’t have imagined collaborative business models. But now we travel with Uber, we order food with Uber Eats and we book accommodation with Airbnb.

However, in a world that turns massively to technology, lawyers have historically been reluctant to incorporate tools that help them do their job better.

In the lawyer’s day-to-day work, the main innovation in the last 10 years was moving from MS Office 2000 to MS Office 2013.

In a world that is radically transforming, the lawyer of the future will not only require deep knowledge of the law. It will also be about technology and processes. And how to combine all this to provide a good service to clients.

Of course, no one expects lawyers to become software developers nor have to write code themselves. But they do have to learn how the new business models and their underlying technology work.

Legaltech is not only about technology. It’s also about a change of mindset. The conviction, in lawyers, that technology and process improvement can help provide a better service to clients.

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