In what time do we live?
A subject that has gained repercussion in discussions involving technology and law, legal techs are at the center of debates about the application of technology to the law and its repercussions for the exercise of activities that can still be considered conventional, such as advocacy or the judiciary. Ultimately, new business models, based on technology, involving the law, populate the imaginary, in a mixture of mistrust and enthusiasm, about the future.
The discussions are part of a time of change that accompanies, in large part, the phenomena of the information society. The technology’s impact on law still seem to be in the realm of the unknown, even though they signal changes, as says Richard Susskind in Tomorrow’s Lawyer:
“Entirely new forms of legal services will emerge, new providers will enter the market and the functioning of our courts will be transformed.”
In this scenario, the current discussion refers to the disruption of various economic sectors and social behaviors. All this inspires, in addition to the insertion of technological interfaces in the traditional professions, a necessary adaptation, a transformation of the services offered, in order to accompany also the change of social demands. How could this transformation take place? The legal professions market has been thinking and invested more and more in innovation.
How to introduce innovation to law?
The emergence of new technology-based business models and application of innovation to the law refers to the boom that we witness from legal startups, or legal techs. The MIT Review – and the CodeX program at Stanford University point to ways to apply technologies to law:
- Improving legal research: technology can optimize search engines for legal information, both in terms of laws and treaties, as well as doctrinal references. Also under this aspect, the mapping of relevant contents in contracts, bylaws or memoranda can be facilitated.
- Studying the precedents: Particularly relevant in common law systems such as the US and UK, precedents are also receiving more attention in civil law systems, as is the case in Brazil, especially from the Civil Procedure Code of 2015. In this context of growing importance, tools for meeting and analyzing previous decisions in different instances can receive considerable technological base.
- Building legal argumentation: incorporating innovation can mean making strategic decisions for cases in both advocacy (litigious or advisory) and in other legal spheres, such as court decisions and administrative procedures. The goal of this fieldwork is to develop computer systems capable of making legal calculations of various types, such as verification of conformity, legal planning and regulatory analysis. It means using logic for decision making. Considering inputs and weights assigned in its programming, systems generate outputs related to the legal procedures.
- Legal infrastructure: it involves the construction of systems and platforms, available on websites or applications, for example, that allow stakeholders in the legal system to connect and collaborate more efficiently. Building on advances in the field of computer science and national and international standardization efforts, these projects have the potential to provide economic and social benefits by simplifying the interactions of individuals, organizations, legal and government professionals as they acquire and deliver juridic services.
From these forms of application of technology to Law, CodeX maps legal techs around the , compliance, online dispute resolution systems, evidence search, among others areas. world, and classifies them according to the object of action, such as document automationBased on these modifications implemented by technology in legal careers, there is the question about the future of these professions.
What is this future?
Efforts to delineate the future of law, considered the insertion of technology, are still in the beginning. Although we do not know what the future scenarios will look like, they are approaching with increasing speed. How much time would we have, as law professionals, to get ready for this future?
Traditionally, Law, in turn, takes very slow steps, for various reasons: delay of the democratic process for the production of laws, legitimacy of the regulations, the fact that social phenomena first appear to be legislated and not the opposite, as happened with the Internet, which, although it has spread at the end of the twentieth century, only now attempts at regulation. Added to the social phenomena, accompanied with difficulty by the Law, it still faces its structure of formation. Historically, law was thought, taught and learned as a system of maintenance: social, financial and legal, properly. Disruptions are resisted and innovation, until then, did not play a prominent role.
This perception still generates resistance and disincentives to innovation, deficient training in management and adherence to traditions. In Brazil, still, the reality of legal training is isolation in relation to other areas of knowledge, such as business administration, which enable business and the creation and management of startups, mainly in relation to technical content, training in computer science, processing and data collection, among others. These are then challenges to be tackled in order to innovate legal careers.
Does innovation in law offer risks?
Faced with the technological framework that legal techs shape, the main question refers to the possibility of law professionals being replaced by innovation. This concern takes on a greater dimension with the advances of the artificial intelligence and its application to the Law. The advances in the techniques of machine learning and the refinement of the algorithms lead to the possibility of making decisions and performing activities increasingly sophisticated by technology. In this context, it is possible to infer that less specialized layers, which perform functions of less complexity, will be affected more quickly.
Preparing for this new reality involves especially the training stages. In this sense, some law schools around the world are already trying to adapt to new demands and make professionals more apt to the market. Legal innovation, in its legal dilemmas and also in its technical bases, which involve, for example, programming bases, must permeate the different phases of legal education, compatible with social phenomena, influenced by technology, in the Information Era.
In addition, and above all concerns, any initiative involving the application of technologies to the law or that are based on models of legal techs, should be consistent with rights and guarantees of the rule of law, such as protection of personal data, due legal process and contradictory. Innovation in the legal field should not mean any kind of setback – much less with respect to the protections and bases of society.
This post was based on the exposition on Legal Techs, carried out by the author, at the I Congress of Technology Applied to the Law, in June 2018.