How is legal tech changing the field of law?
07.07.2022 / Walter Marc, Berweger Martin
Legal tech is one of the hottest issues in our sector. Wenger Vieli adapted to this trend early on and believes it offers great opportunities for the further development of legal services of outstanding quality.
When Wenger Vieli was founded, the most important technical devices were the typewriter, the dictation machine, and the telephone. That situation has fundamentally changed in only 50 years. Typewriters and dictation machines have almost entirely disappeared, and even the telephone is being pushed aside by videoconferencing.
A lawyer’s most important tool these days is a computer with Internet access. Legal research is done by inputting search terms in online databases that sort the re- sults by relevance. Legislative texts, which are amended sooner and more frequently these days, are retrieved online, guaranteeing that the most recent version is consulted. Letters from lawyers, legal briefs, and memoranda are drafted on the computer and often transmitted electronically – and are increasingly also signed electronically. Physical client files have been replaced by electronic files stored in the cloud, acces- sible from all over the world.
Those are only a few examples of how legal tech has revolutionised lawyers’ day-to-day work. Information technology has become an integral part of the legal profession. It has transformed the way legal work is done, created new business models, and changed the profile of requirements for legal practitioners. But this trend is still in its infancy. Digitalisation will make legal work much more efficient and ensure that the work product is of higher quality. That is because software will be able to review legal documents, generate contracts, and clarify legal questions faster and more thoroughly than human beings can. Automated legal services that barely involve intervention by lawyers are being provided more often these days. One example are blockchain-based smart contracts which implement agreements in machine-readable form that run automatically when predetermined conditions are met. Digital transformation is developing exponentially, which means that future digital changes will take place even faster and be more radical than in the past. That raises the question of what trends will have the greatest influence over next 50 years.
Legal tech as an opportunity
Will lawyers and tax experts still be needed if artificial intelligence allows software to understand, review, and generate texts better? Is there a risk that legal advisers will be replaced by IT specialists and machines? And what effects will this have on the legal system in general? Avoiding these questions would be just as disastrous as for a lawyer doing a research based only on case law from before the year 2000 which is available in printed form.
Legal tech can be a threat, but if used sensibly it is really more of an opportunity. Legal tech will replace a great deal of routine work, allowing lawyers to focus on more complex, interesting activity. At the same time, personal contact will continue to play an important role in coming decades. There is seldom an objectively best solution in the field of law; instead, there are different variants offering advantages and disadvantages that fit in with the client’s individual needs to a greater or lesser degree. Accordingly, there will still be a need for personalised legal advice and custom solutions even as digitalisation advances.
From an international viewpoint, the United States is the current leader in the field of legal tech, which is why it is worth to take a look overseas. Switzerland is in the mid-range among industrialised countries. This is due not least to the fact that legal systems differ from country to country and that many providers focus on the largest English-speaking markets. Switzerland is a leader in the area of blockchain technologies and with its Crypto Valley can even assume a pioneering role worldwide. Some of the assets it offers are the ability to innovate, well-trained specialists, a cluster with promising blockchain projects, capital for young companies, a high degree of legal certainty, neutrality, and an attractive tax situation. Those location-based advantages could generally help Switzerland benefit even more from the future digitalisation of legal services.
Latest legal tech projects
One reason Wenger Vieli is gaining valuable momentum in the area of legal tech is the strong positioning our firm enjoys with start-ups in the digitalisation sector. We use software and tools to provide legal services. We keep digital client files, use cloud services and online databases, are switching to Internet telephony, hold video conferences, use qualified electronic signatures to sign contracts, and have an in-house IT department.
Our firm also offers the “Digital Lawyer”, which can be used to download profes- sional contract templates free of charge and also provides an interface to the Commercial Register allowing documents for personnel changes to be generated simply, securely, and quickly. We also use legal tech applications on a case-by-case basis when conducting due diligence in the context of company acquisitions. We are currently working with our partner Leva to launch a platform that will allow start-ups and investors conducting financing rounds to negotiate contracts, automatically generate documents, and complete capital increases.
Thanks to these legal tech applications, we can offer legal services under attractive terms and conditions, attract new clients, guarantee a high level of quality, and strengthen our market position.
Equipped for the future
Digitalisation has radically changed day-to-day routine in our firm. But we are in the early days of legal tech, which will result in a far more fundamental transformation of legal services. We are taking advantage of this trend to provide our services more efficiently and to further improve their quality. Wenger Vieli has already implemented many valuable legal tech applications, both in our in-house processes and as part of the services we offer. As an innovative firm, we will continue to keep a close eye on the legal tech trend, evaluate and integrate current offerings, and create new ones. As a result, we are positioning ourselves as a firm that is taking advantage of the opportunities offered by legal tech to ensure that we are well-equipped for the next 50 years.