'Legal innovation' is no longer an oxymoron. The staid, precedent bound, legal guild is slowly morphing into something different. The contours of the new legal order are still being shaped and the dominant players have yet to emerge. Even confirmed industry Luddites concede the legal profession/industry is changing. Many lawyers, to borrow from T.S. Eliot's Journey of the Magi, are "no longer at ease in the old dispensation."
The rise of the robots has plagued the imagination of science-fiction since its inception. Whether it involved Asimov's three rules of robotics or the time travelling robotic psychopaths in the Terminator franchise, the world has worried about the role of robotics. The world has prepared itself for the robotic invasion with many low skilled jobs in retail, customer services and industrial industries like factories all replacing humans with robotic counterparts to some extent; many of which improve efficiency, productivity and costs. Shockingly, San Francisco-based company, Atrium, believe that robots have the potential to supersede and complete the job of some high-paid legal service workers. As young as 14 months, Atrium, along with the $65 million investments from adventure capitalists, are set to revolutionise the legal sector by using artificial intelligence to work alongside legal service professionals, and in some cases, replace them.
Clients are demanding more efficient and improved delivery of legal services. Automation opportunities that were previously limited are now a reality based on robust pattern recognition, in documents in particular. Artificial Intelligence is fast becoming a game changer in the delivery of legal services across multiple disciplines.
During a recent visit to the National University of Singapore Law School (NUS), I asked a first-year student what being a lawyer meant to him. His response was thoughtful and prescient: "I regard law as a skill. I plan to leverage my legal training and meld it with my passion for business, technology, and policy. For me, law is not about practice." The distinction between practicing law and engaging in the delivery of legal services--the business of law--is critically important to a wide range of existing and prospective legal industry stakeholders.