A day at Legal Geek exploring the future of legal services

East Midlands Business Link catches up with Andrew Kerrigan, Associate Solicitor Sills & Betteridge, just after his trip to the Legal Geek 2017 conference in trendy Shoreditch.

I work in a profession which proudly promotes itself through the prism of tradition and history. It is also increasingly adopting new technology to improve its service delivery.

Here at Sills and Betteridge we are embracing change with the recent adoption of SOS case management software which will help us adopt an efficient and unifed approach. We have also teamed up with Redbrick to improve our conveyancing service. At the time of its adoption Edward Sharpe a partner in the Conveyancing team commented:

“The easy to use customisation tools have been game changing for us.  What used to take two months, we’re now able to do ourselves in two hours.  Redbrick are a great team to work with too, they are always on hand to help with any queries.  I’d have no hesitation in recommending them.”

It is set against the background of change that I headed off to the Legal Geek 2017 conference in trendy Shoreditch. I was in part attracted by the prohibition on attending in a suit and the international speakers as well the opportunity to meet with a number of startups in the “Legal Tech” sector.

There is much hype around technological advancements which could impact the legal profession in the coming years. Here are three of the main innovations which were discussed amongst delegates at Legal Geek:

Internet of things (IOT)

You may be familiar with the concept of IOT from articles about the “Home of the Future” and smart fridges which can reorder milk when you use the last drop of semi skimmed on your cornflakes. Well the same approach of smart devices is being considered in the work place to help employers in regulatory compliance which is my area of expertise.

An example is wearable tech which could be a simple wrist band that monitors heart rate, alcohol level, exposure to harmful chemicals or monitors use of vibration tools. This technology could also be used to help lone workers by raising an alarm if they are involved in an accident and become immobile.

AI

The concept of artificial intelligence has been around in Sci-Fi for many years and is now slowly becoming a reality. The concept is that computers are able to be cognitive through access to vast quantities of data and the application of processing software which enable them to intelligently anaylise the data or respond to queries.

An example of this tech was demonstrated when IBM’s Watson computer won the US TV Quiz show – Jeapordy. You can search “IBM Watson Jeapordy” on YouTube to see how the computer performed.

Blockchain Smart Contracts

The most recent buzz is around blockchain and its potential to enable smart contracts. Smart contracts are a method whereby parties enter into an agreement online and the smart contract can for example automatically authorise payment or provision of a service when set criteria are met. A simple example is the triggering of payments during a construction contract.

The blockchain also has the capacity to make each stage of a transaction publically available or viewable by a set number of people and each stage is locked in by all the participants and not capable of being removed or overwritten. This aspect of the blockchain is of significant interest to the food industry in terms of food tracability and public confidence. It could potentially significantly reduce the time to undertake a product recall in the event of a food contamination incident.

These developments will not eliminate the need for Solicitors but it is necessary that we are fully aware of how the technology works as it will certainly change the landscape of legal transactions and disputes in the future. A future in which I hope not to have to wear a suit to work everyday.

Andrew Kerrigan is available at any time  on 07387 108720, akerrigan@sillslegal.co.uk or check out his regular LinkedIn posts