Technology and the Business of Law

“The practice of Law is shrinking.  The business of Law is expanding.” ~ Mark A Cohen With the ever-increasing challenges law firms are faced with, it has become imperative for legal practitioners to work smarter and not just harder.

April 19th, 2023   |   Publication   |   By: Riëtte Bornman



The practice of Law is shrinking.  The business of Law is expanding.” ~ Mark A. Cohen

The Legal profession is a century old profession, which has withstood the test of time and overcome many obstacles by continuously adapting, both substantively and commercially.  As such, it is clear that the legal profession must adapt to the latest array of influences, which come in the form of technological advancements.   This will inevitably lead to irreversible changes in both the legal profession as a whole and certain fields of law, leaving legal practitioners with a choice between stagnation or growth. 


LawTech or LegalTech?

The use and application of the terms “LawTech” and “LegalTech” are a much-contested topic, with experts debating whether the use of the one or the other is preferential and whether these can be used interchangeably.  For the purposes of this discussion, we will make use of the term “LawTech” as defined by the UK Law Society (UK Law Society, 2019):

“Lawtech is the term we use to describe technologies that aim to support, supplement or replace traditional methods for delivering legal services, or that improve the way the justice system operates.”

It is therefore understood as an umbrella term, used in the widest sense of the word, which encapsulates all interactions between the fields of Law and technology. 


Modern Business Needs of Law Firms

During a panel discussion at LawTech2018, Rob Booth, General Counsel at the Crown Estate, pointed out that LawTech should be approached by looking broadly at a law firm’s business needs and harnessing technology in a manner that helps achieve operational excellence and mitigate risks.  Booth’s focus on business needs ties in with the trend of commoditisation of legal services, as described by Richard Susskind in his book, Tomorrow’s Lawyers.  In light thereof, it is suggested that attorneys think in terms of “customers” rather than “clients”.  Mark A Cohen, is of the opinion that combining a customer-centric approach with operational technology presents law firms with a unique opportunity to reinvent the delivery of legal services, thereby profoundly changing the “business of law.” 

 How do we change the Business of Law?

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”  ~Winston Churchill

By opening the door for innovation in the legal profession, we can expect to see increased efficiency, reduced costs, improvement in the client-experience and improved time-efficiency without compromising quality.  LawTech offers an assortment of tools to facilitate law firms in reaching these desired goals.  One such tool is Artificial Intelligence (AI), defined by the UK Law Society as:

“The term 'artificial intelligence' can be applied to computer systems which are intended to replicate human cognitive functions.  In particular it includes, 'machine learning', where algorithms detect patterns in data, and apply these new patterns to automate certain tasks.”

Exploratory studies have led to the identification of many areas where LawTech tools such as AI can benefit legal practices, such as:

  • Automated document analysis;
  • Improved data aggregation;
  • Case outcome prediction;
  • Automation of legal functions and processes;
  • Improved methods of corresponding with clients;
  • Providing customers with transparency in billing and processes;
  • Automated regulatory compliance.

The application of AI in an industry such as the legal industry, requires an advanced level of specialisation as the correct application of AI relies heavily on decision trees.  For this reason, we recommend law firms to contact a Software Development company with the necessary expertise in law, software development and business analysis, in order to ensure that all factors are properly weighed up and proportionally implemented from the developmental phase. 

 Yellowtail Software 

With the ever-increasing challenges law firms are faced with, it has become imperative for legal practitioners to work smarter and not just harder.  As such completing legal functions at an increased speed while maintaining the highest standard of quality, is critical to the success of any legal practice.  This cannot be achieved without employing new ideas and applying new technologies. 

Yellowtail Software has a team of specialised Software Developers with the necessary legal background to address the obstacles faced in the business of law. 

Contact Yellowtail Software to discuss solution-driven LawTech to address the challenges in your legal practice

Have a look at our latest LawTech Project Case, Lexa:

Lexa improves communication between attorneys and their clients by automating much of the communication between them, and by giving the client real-time access to their matters.

View Lexa

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Riëtte Bornman

Riëtte Bornman

IT Consultant