The future of the legal profession post the pandemic

Updated: May 9, 2020

Words by Deola Akinbogun

In an undeniable shift towards an increasing demand for a digital world, the legal profession; one of the most archaic and traditional industries of our day, is seeing a transformation in the way in which the public can engage its services. As the uncertainty heightens for what the future entails for the legal profession, legal professionals across the globe are now faced with the dawn of a new reality that has engulfed modern society, in the emergence of the “new normal.”

So, what does the “new normal” look like for those in the legal profession post the COVID-19 pandemic?

Legal professionals have now had to embrace the rise and need for technological advancement in the way in which the public can access legal advice and information. From the rise of the use of E-bundles used in court proceedings and online software platforms such as Lexis Nexis used for legal research; it is fair to predict that Artificial intelligence (AI) will soon become the norm in facilitating legal services.

But what will the use of artificial intelligence look like for the legal industry?

Baker Hostetler, one of the largest law firms in the US has launched ROSS, the world’s first “robot lawyer” to help facilitate the average day to day activities of a lawyer. Ross has the ability to access various legal databases across the globe and can search through thousands of legal documents in seconds providing answers to any legal question. This is an exciting and very impressive piece of technology that can even monitor the law for changes that can help boost a client’s case! This form of artificial intelligence will inevitably enhance the performance of any law firm freeing up more time for the lawyer to focus on delivering client facing and more intricate legal matters. With a motto such as “enabling lawyers to do more than humanly possible” it is understandable why so many firms worldwide would find this form or AI intriguing in a highly competitive legal world. Each firm desires to have a slight edge over its competitors and Ross is leading the way in making this very achievable in view of this advanced technology.

From AI technology evolving, a new trend of virtual law firms will also begin to rise as lawyers discover that they can still facilitate legal services without the need for physical presence within in an office or manually manage case files; these can all be managed electronically as the traditional brick-mortar offices become redundant. Clients will also no longer see the need to pay higher legal fees billed to the very last minute because of the daily running costs of buildings thereby decreasing the need for law offices to remain. Clients can now have access to their legal representative via online platforms such as zoom for video conference meetings which I believe will begin to shape the judicial system as well as traditional court houses move towards a more virtual court room.

The legal industry should also see a sharp rise in the freelance lawyer now taking charge of their own hours, billing system, case load and clientele which is becoming more appealing to many legal professionals in the UK and US but even more so now as this pandemic has shown that most office-based business can still run as effectively with staff members working from the comfort of their own homes. This will mean that many lawyers will find this style of work more appealing as legal innovation and entrepreneurialism begins to hit a new peak.

In short these are very exciting times for legal professionals and the entire legal system as a whole as we see a new legal order begin to unravel before us.