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Meet the law firm of the future

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Much like many other industry sectors, legal is being radically transformed by ICT. NERUSHKA DEOSARAN and ROB OTTY believe that those firms that don’t keep up with technology do so at their own peril.

The traditional model of a law firm is in a state of disruption and the future law firm will be driven by leaders who understand technology, efficiency and innovation.  The legal sector is changing rapidly and will continue to transform rapidly.

The law firm of the future:

➢ has lawyers who understand technology.

➢ promotes an innovative mindset.

➢ has an improved organisational structure and business model.

➢ creates new roles, businesses and functions.

➢ delivers innovative products and services to clients.

➢ is efficient and cost-effective.

The deregulation of legal services in England and Wales in 2011 gave birth to organisations like Riverview Law and RocketLaw that have been disrupting the established legal services industry with innovative offerings to clients in competition with traditional law firms.

The Law Society of England and Wales Future of Legal Services report 2016, mentions the following five drivers of change in the legal services market:

1. Globalisation: global and national economic business environments

2. Buyer behaviours: how clients buy legal services

3. Technology: technological and process innovation

4. Competition: new entrants and types of competition

5. External investment: wider political agendas around funding, regulation and the principles of access to justice

The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) published the Legal Technology Future Horizons report in 2014 highlighting how information technology (IT) is critical to the survival and future growth in the rapidly changing and highly competitive legal services industry.  IT will no longer only be used to provide back-end support to lawyers but to develop client-facing products and services, as well as to improve internal efficiencies.

As these two industries combine, the challenge for the legal industry is to keep up with the fast pace of change that the tech industry is accustomed to.  The challenge for the technology industry is to understand law firms and identify how technologies can be utilised in the legal environment.  The combination of these sectors also gives rise to opportunities for new roles within a law firm, breaking the traditional hierarchy.  For example, a lawyer who can program would be a valuable addition to a law firm.

The Horizons report shows that artificial intelligence is a potential game-changer for the industry with 88% of respondents agreeing that the checking of content and structuring of legal documents will be performed by artificial intelligence software.  Law firms should innovate by using technologies such as big data analytics to process large amounts of data or by using project management techniques to streamline processes to offer increased value to clients.

Law firms should be developing client products and subscription services in addition to providing the usual bill-by-the-hour advice.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel 2020 Legal Services report predicts that there will be “less involvement by lawyers in many of tasks that until now have made up their staple diet”.

There will be greater self-lawyering, use of online services, entry of unregulated businesses and expansion of services of regulated providers, such as accountants and banks.  The Altman Weil 2015 survey of law firms found that the second largest threat to law firm business, after new non-lawyer entrants, is clients’ use of technological tools that reduce the need for lawyers and paralegals.

“If a business is not reinventing itself to adapt to changing market conditions then it is likely it will go into decline or be taken over by those that are better adapted to the new environment.  This statement is no less true for law firms than for any other business,” Says the Law Society of England and Wales Future of Legal Services report 2016.

At Norton Rose Fulbright, we are developing alternative methods of delivering traditional legal services to our clients, including the use of artificial intelligence applications.  We have a global Project 2020 covering a number of initiatives aimed at modernising our global business for the future.  We have also freed innovative lawyers from billable time to focus on developing and delivering the creative thinking and products our clients expect.

* Rob Otty is managing director and Nerushka Deosaran is senior associate and business development manager of Norton Rose Fulbright. Follow them on Twitter on @Rob_Otty and @NerushkaD

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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