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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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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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