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Technological innovation "will determine law firms' success"

Technological innovation

A major Law Society report on technological innovation, Capturing technological innovation, predicts that a typical law firm in the future will accommodate a new generation of disruptive technologies, such as virtual assistants, machine learning and automation, but legal services must not lose their human touch.

It particularly sought to locate technology in the context of how lawyers might work with machines and harness technology in the service of the profession; how to pursue a digital focus but retain the human element - and embrace technology to support lawyers' roles rather than adopt it for its own sake.

The author of the research, Dr Tara Chittenden, a senior researcher at the Chancery Lane research unit, predicted that over the next decade, "we will likely see business applications that include workflow automation but go well beyond it to incorporate support for the human cognitive processes as part of the overall business environment.

Increasingly firms will be tasked with managing an augmented workforce that includes a new generation of smart technologies, virtual assistants, algorithms, automated processes and distributed devices alongside flesh-and-blood staff.

She forecast that technology would transform legal practice from old models: "Legal businesses which use technology to deliver legal services focusing on smarter, more flexible resourcing, carrying out work in a more project management style and thinking in terms of process management and improvement, will look very different and work very differently to the pyramid law firm of the past."

Source: Legal Futures

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