How tech can make in-house legal teams more human

In a world where technology is helping banks become more customer-focused, the healthcare industry is using technology to offer specialised care to their patients, the legal industry has to come to terms with a hard truth: for most people outside of law, dealing with legal processes is still stressful.
Legal technology deploymentPeople and businesses deal with legal processes at various moments in their lives – whether it’s buying a house or hiring a new employee. The processes around these moments should be friendly and human, but instead they can be confusing and frustrating, alienating all parties involved and putting a damper on an otherwise exciting moment.

Why is dealing with legal so stressful?

In-house legal teams are taking strides to ensure that legal isn’t seen as a blocker, nor as the department of archaic processes and frustrating experiences. But this change has been long overdue, and there are several reasons why slow progress makes dealing with legal so stressful.

Lawyers are risk-averse

It’s a lawyer’s job to reduce risk for their clients – being professionally risk-averse is what lawyers are paid for, and why they’re exceptionally good at spotting and minimizing even the slightest chance of risk. While that’s a great skill to have within the scope of the job, it can also be a problem when it comes to innovating and finding new ways to do things.

Lawyers are traditional

The legal industry seems to be governed by tradition, to the point where lawyers are reluctant to change their ways of working and step outside their comfort zones. Take contracts, for example. Lawyers agree and manage contracts using Microsoft Word, email and PDFs. This manual process isn’t perfect, nor is it scalable or easy on either party involved with contracts – but it’s the only way legal knows to get a contract created, negotiated, and signed. Trying to find a streamlined, frictionless alternative that replaces wet signature with online eSigning? Sounds risky, but more importantly – doesn’t capture the traditional, authoritative impression they hope to convey to their clients.

Lawyers aren’t focused on the end-user

There’s a well-used phrase around the legal industry and legal services being “by lawyers, for lawyers”. But the problem is that the people who buy and use legal services aren’t lawyers. The experience of a user outside of legal trying to understand the mysterious, jargon-heavy legal document that they need to agree to is far too common – and unfortunate. The legal industry doesn’t exist purely for lawyers, and needs to start thinking about the end-user in order to thrive and become more human.

How can tech change this?

We can see an adoption of tech across multiple industries – and it’s having a huge impact the way they engage with their consumers, grow businesses, and improve the end-user’s experience with the products or service. Here are a few examples of how tech can change – and improve – the legal industry.

#1 AI predictability

AI has strong predictive capabilities, especially around big data – and this could transform the legal industry. For example, this tech could be used to help the business spot risks and avoid costly litigations. Predictive analysis can help legal teams establish how long it’ll take to resolve an issue, and how much it’ll cost. This strategic approach can help legal work more efficiently and avoid difficult, stressful outcomes for end users.

#2 Machine-readable contracts

Contracts are just a written confirmation of a relationship between parties. They should be exciting, something worth celebrating – but the process of agreeing, signing and managing contracts leaves a lot to be desired. Contract automation platforms can help with this – by digitizing your contracts, and making the process friendlier, faster, and more collaborative, you can build strong relationships with people and businesses from the get-go.

#3 People-friendly chatbots

Legal can use AI to improve the experience of law. And there’s no reason why chatbots can’t be used in the legal industry; they are, after all, already helping customers and businesses with banking, shopping, utilities and more. AI can provide access to legal information, distill important details in an easy-to-understand manner, and save legal’s time by answering frequently asked legal questions.

Implementing tech into every legal process doesn’t have to be a painful experience – instead, it seems necessary at this stage, given the adoption of tech in every other industry and facet of business. Tech can actually make a huge difference in how lawyers approach their work, provide high-quality services to people and businesses, and make the industry more accessible, more approachable, and more human.

Richard Mabey is the CEO and co-founder of Juro, the all-in-one contract automation platform.