Change is inevitable. Society undergoes alterations every day and one cannot look at the world as it is today but the world as it will be. We are surrounded by technology in our daily life. This also applies to lawyers – will they be replaced by robots and would that actually be a bad thing?
The above mentioned is one of the questions that was dealt with in D&I’s Evening Classes (in Finnish Iltakoulu) where we had the honour to hear the visions of Riikka Koulu, a research fellow specialised in legal technology, legal automation and dispute resolution at the University of Helsinki. D&I has a special partnership with the Legal Tech Lab, an exciting project of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, which has a mission to bring something new to the legal field: a new way of looking at legal services, new tools to facilitate participation and a forward-looking mindset.
Lawyers and the judicial system are often appearing to value stability and even seen to be unwilling to adapt to society’s changes. Even today, the law sector in general is seen as conservative and traditional. However, it is undeniable that technology will change the role of lawyers. The question is how the lawyers can prepare themselves for the changes in order to be ready to engage the opportunities that technology offers.
Gaining current information on legal technology is the starting point. At the moment, we at D&I are using an intelligent software for litigators and arbitration practitioners which makes writing large submissions with numerous exhibits easy. It allows us to create an ebrief, an interactive submission to courts and/or arbitral tribunals in pdf format with hyperlinks to the relevant exhibits. You can access the exhibits by clicking the hyperlinks in the footnotes. This process will open a new pdf window where the exhibit is displayed for your review. This is a spectacular example on how legal technology can serve lawyers and dispute resolution by making the writing and reading of submissions more efficient and pleasant. In addition, it involves the client in the production process. The client will be able to follow the lawyers’ argumentation and be able to give input on the submissions before they are filed.
For example, there is a tendency in international arbitration to depart from what can rightfully be called the “paper tsunami” to its digital equivalent: the e-arbitration. New terms have been coined for almost all steps of the arbitration proceedings: eBriefs, eDiscovery, eHearings, eArbitrators and eBundles. We believe that there is still a long way in litigation in Finland but some countries have a complete digital platform for court cases. Filings happen electronically, checking status of judgements can be done electronically, booking hearing dates can be done electronically etc. When everything shifts towards the digital sphere the intervention of AI becomes more relevant and prominent.
“Algorithms will become the new normal. AI taking care of the previously time-consuming routines, it is up to us lawyers to figure out how we will complete the big picture with the maximum value to our clients. Personally, I have always valued human interaction, listening and empathy, as key features in dispute resolution. To be honest, I welcome the robots automating everything else”, says Partner Jussi Lehtinen.
- Digitalization changes dispute resolution. Lawyers must be ready for changes and be able to understand their effect in practical dispute resolution.
- Project management is essential. In the future, lawyers must recognise when the human labour is needed. Utilise this opportunity to allocate human labour more efficiently.
- The price of anonymity and noninteraction can be high in dispute resolution. Prepare for disruption. Investing on the struggles of digitalization helps you to cope with the inevitable changes.
- Observe the downside of efficiency in dispute resolution –ensure that you do not prioritise efficiency at the expense of legal security.