Legal Technology and Employees - The perfect combination

The Perfect Human & Technology Combination

By PracticeLeague, May 16, 2022 | 3 Min Read

The New Legaltech – The Perfect Human & Technology Combine

Technology is not just an objective in itself – rather, it is not meant to be a goal, an end result. It is the means to achieve a diverse set of objectives. Fundamentally, technology is meant to improve the service and its delivery to the end customers. Sadly, far too often, we fall in love with the technology solution itself, for its newness component. At the diametric opposite side of the spectrum is rejection of technology due to various fears. In doing either, we end up forgetting the objective behind the technology adoption. Those two words are key – objective, and technology adoption by the users.

Setting The Context: Technology Vs Humans

There is a need to set the correct context; technology is something that enables employees and companies to perform their tasks better. In adopting any technological tool, one must keep in mind the divergent needs of the business & the organization on the one hand - including the employees, and the needs of the customers on the other hand. All in all, technology should be an enabler that makes it easier to deliver the needs of all three - the customer, the organization, and the business.

Humans and Technology are not an either-or situation; as Marko Porobija of Porobija & Sporilac said in our recent podcast, “There is no substitute for human creativity & individualized legal advice”. That being said, there is a strong case for certain tasks that are best left to technology, as eloquently covered by Marko. The key here is two-fold, identifying tasks that can be automated, and learning how to tap into the power of the human mind, or in other words, the internal teams.

This is a task of change management – managing the shift to a more tech-enabled internal team; and in this, business worldwide has already charted a clear path of implementation. This path can be studied, understood, adapted to legal domain realities, and adopted by the legal function for robust and trouble-free implementation of technology solutions within your firm or business. This way, you gain clear productivity benefits with minimal disruption.

Understanding The Role of Technology

Technology is an enabler, a catalyst; it has the potential of enhancing the performance of whichever domain or function it is implemented in. Moving on, the role of technology is clear as a catalyst to productivity; it is not the end unto itself. It is a tool that enables superior results at more optimal resource utilization levels. That is the be-all and end-all of technology’s role.

Setting The Context: Disruption

At a more practical level, there will be some disruption; change always, or nearly always, involves disruption in some form or the other. Technology, for example, can perform repetitive, manual tasks far better than humans can. Technology can spot trends and search in a pile of information far more effectively. Thus, it means that at some level of the organization, there will be some impact on the team structure, day-to-day tasks, and deliverables. This is one of the key causes of stress. Another cause is that people are often wedded to older ways of doing things, or mistrustful of their own capacity to learn anew.

This is where business can help us, as it has walked down this path many a times, and has charted ways to minimize the perceived downside. Perhaps the most famous of these dates back to the industrial growth age of the 60s and 70s – The Rehn-Meidner Model. This was a phased plan to retrain or shift manpower rendered obsolete by technological change. Point being, business can show us the path; similar ways to the above have been practically implemented in other real scenarios.

Way Forward: Legaltech, The Organization, & Business

The core elements of the legal function are knowledge & skills; technology can use the data generated properly in a defined process setting in a better way such that the knowledge & skills of the internal legal function can aid in delivering a superior experience to the client or customer. However, it needs to be understood here that in a real-world setting there are a multitude of participants in any business process – therefore, these processes can only proceed properly and deliver the required outputs in a collaborative manner if disputes and conflicts are to be avoided.

The above brings the four together – legal and legal operations, technology, the organization comprising the people & the processes, and the needs of the business. Technology provides superior handling of data & processes, as well as opens up newer faster ways of communication, connections, etc. Business is primarily focused on and driven by a foundation of communication – and technology enables communication. And improved communication also improves resource utilization – the basic function of technology. Technology also facilitates better faster operational processes, helps discover newer methods, enable value additions in current processes, and more. The list is long; suffice it to state that technology enables business.

The New Legaltech: Enabling A More Human-Centered Approach

We had above observed that technology has the potential of enhancing performance – unless used properly, it will not give the required outputs, and can in fact be a drain on resources. The reason is that while technology has clear benefits, it is the human being that is at the center of business who actually implements it. And that will need skills in both business as well as technology. The user should know what output is desired, how it is to be obtained, and how to implement the same. Hence, knowledge skills will be key to superior outputs in the legal domain, combined with effective communication, domain skills, and collaboration. Add to this, as Marko Porobija noted, creativity and individualized service to clients or customers. All these have human elements in controlling roles.

Going forward, Legaltech will have to be implemented keeping these elements in mind. It is not technology, but rather the problems it can solve, or the value it can add to the business, the people in the business, and the processes that run the business that is the considering and deciding factor in Legaltech {or any tech, for that matter} implementation. It is the fitment of the technology to the specific business case that needs to be considered and thought through.

For example, the time wasted in manual processes can be better used in studying the client or customer needs, and focussed on providing a solution to the problem, letting technology handle these tasks. Technology can facilitate better faster and richer communication between stakeholders in any business transactions, speeding up execution and producing superior results arising from enhanced collaboration.

A Humanised Function

This is where Legaltech can help in making a new humanized legal function. There are two aspects that need consideration – first is that technology needs some skills in the application area it is being implemented in; second is that the tools themselves need to be familiar. Thirdly, and lastly, is the attitude and willingness of the individual users to adapt. It is these that have to come together into a sweet spot.

For example, Contract Management Software can enable time & cost savings, and better collaboration between stakeholders, among other advantages. Litigation Management helps in smoothening dispute handling, cases & matters etc, saving time of the legal teams. Compliance Management automates the compliance-related workflows, again freeing resources. This frees time, cost, and human resources for other value-added tasks that can now be done. But, for all of these, the users have to have the basic functional skills in contract or litigation management.

In Conclusion

The key differential between realizing and sustaining these benefits is how you choose & implement the technology solution; the opted solution should have the ability to deliver your specific needs. For example, in a widespread consumer business spread across jurisdictions, there will be specific compliance, risk, taxation, etc requirements to be delivered. Can the system deliver these? And can you people adapt and adopt to these? These are the two key points. The organization needs to deep-dive and do a specific pain point identification before going in for a Legaltech implementation. That is the humanizing element: robust planned implementation considering the users, their abilities, and their requirements.

This is so far a process-oriented aspect, but it is connecting the automated processes with the human factor that will actually lead to far greater benefits above and beyond the basic process-oriented realizations. The true value addition happens when the freed-up resources are properly utilized, and the change to a technology-enabled function is handled smoothly. These twins are what lead to unlocking the true potential of technology. This is the subject of the concluding part of this mini-series.

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