Role of technology in the growth of alternative legal service providers (ALSP’S)
By Vasundhara Shankar, Founder & Managing Partner, Verum Legal


Legal Technology In An Emerging Market

A democracy’s biggest backbone is an efficient legal system that helps its citizens enforce their legal rights. Delays in achieving justice and issues with access to justice can prove to be a major hindrance to democracy. Many markets have a concern of pendency, delays in seeking justice, and the general difficulty in access to justice. Hence ALSPs & their contribution have become cardinal in the delivery of justice. Legal Technology, invariably, has the potential to provide the most robust solutions to deal such issues. As more people realize the impact their contribution has and can create, the value of ALSPs are bound to increase.

The Scope for ALSPs

While Emerging Markets, like India, have seen a boom in Alternative Legal Service Providers or ALSPs, there is definitely a need and scope for a lot more advancement. ALSPs, needless to say, perform and contribute in various ways. They have the potential of venturing into spaces and scopes that were earlier considered to be inaccessible or unreachable by the conventional legal industry. Legal Technology can provide various ALSPs efficiently and help the industry evolve beyond imagination. The legal segment has seen substantial developments as well in terms of the penetration of technology. However, there is still a wide scope of development that can majorly impact the legal segment and help all stakeholders benefit from the products so created. The legal fraternity’s first entry into the legal tech world was through case law research. Today, we are at a juncture where technology can and in fact has been, reading judgments and laws, comprehending them upon being trained, and churning out opinions for asking clients! Right from helping with document review, to contract management, litigation support, e-discovery, investigation support, legal research, docket management, legal tech has evolved over the past few years and has been aiming to provide assistance to lawyers and clients alike. ALSPs have been working on legal tech products for both clients and lawyers, to help them with their respective aspects of work and responsibilities.

ALSPs help litigants, litigators, defendants, respondents, lawyers, and clients alike by helping them reduce legal function cost, cost savings, ensuring quicker delivery of possible results, and creating a more efficient system. While the ecosystem is perhaps not ready for a 360-degree turn, ALSPs can most definitely, and efficiently, handle low-value tasks, if there is a strategic use of resources. Another advantage of creating and relying on ALSPs is their scope of scalability. ALSPs also have the potential to provide all stakeholders with access to specialized expertise.

Legaltech and ALSPs

ALSPs have gained strength, value, and recognition with the support that legal tech extends to them. Application of technology, when done effectively, ought to be considered as the most effective tool for providing and facilitating alternative services in the legal industry. For instance, an automated contract drafting solution that has been trained to draft clauses and contracts in a specific industry can very well understand a given scenario and suggest clauses and terms that will be favorable for a business and protect the rights of parties accordingly.

A blockchain-based platform can be used to automate obligations and triggers on dues, liability occurrence, etc.

A litigation management solution can effectively store files for a matter, docketed on cloud platforms, allow lawyers and law firms to collaborate on the platform, facilitate billing and invoicing, etc.

Owing to the pandemic and the instant response required by lawyers in the given scenario, courts and professionals were both forced into a situation where adapting digital methods became a mandatory requirement. Courts went online overnight, e-filings started across many markets, like India, for example. While this plunge was unplanned and unexpected, it has definitely pushed the legal world further ahead into the legal technology space, reluctantly, albeit.

Using legal technology to aid alternative dispute resolution methods by providing a secure simulated environment for sharing documents, working on suggested resolutions for parties, using intelligent and trained machines to consider thousands of precedents, legislations, legal propositions, and come to a conclusion that is the best-suited suggestion for both parties involved, saves time as well as effort for all stakeholders.

In summation

With growing pendency in emerging markets like India, finding alternate methods to resolve legal disputes has become absolutely necessary. Lawyers' expertise and skill, supported by existing and useful legal technology products, can result in an enhanced expertise profile. The result will be that lawyers' delivery of services can be made more effective, Thus, legal technology products, if created and used well, can be disruptive and pathbreaking.