Whether you're a student or an experienced professional, you might be interested in disrupting the world of law by entering the legal tech market. Contrarily to popular belief, you do not need a background knowledge in law or experience working at a law firm in order to launch your career in legal tech. If you would like to break into legal tech then this article is for you. It will explain what legal tech really is, how it fits within the broader legal industry as well as practical tips you can follow to launch your career in legal tech.
There are a number of emerging legal tech startups within the legal sector which are innovating legal practice, by resolving legal issues and improving operational efficiency. Many business clients are now seeking alternatives to existing technologies and building solutions for areas of repetitive legal work. This may also include hiring legal hackers, in order to foster creative problem-solving at the intersection of law and technology, as they may have knowledge of the legal tech offerings available and experience using them.
What is legal tech?
Legal technology or legal tech makes law more efficient by identifying solutions. Law tech solutions tend to focus more on digitalising legal services whereas legal tech tools tend to make lawyers more efficient. However, it is common for legal tech to designate both types of solutions. Legal tech solutions range from reviewing contracts, streamlining contract workflows with artificial intelligence, tracking billable hours, contract builders and improving access to justice.
Legal tech many also include implementing smart contracts for the advanced delivery of contracting requirements. Business clients often resort to technology instead of traditional legal product management solutions, such as paralegals for contract review.
Do law firms use legal technology?
Whilst law firms like Allen & Overy have launched legal tech incubators, law firms are still in the early days of legal technology adoption amongst lawyers. However, legal tech streamlines legal processes such as filings and templates (e.g. LegalZoom) are more widely adopted.
Norton Rose Fulbright has strengthened its legal tech consulting offering, which highlights the importance of utilising legal technology. Norton Rose Fulbright now offer NRF Transform which aims to optimise the delivery of legal services through consultancy, digital products, scaled solutions and legal managed services. Businesses across every industry sector face challenges and are seeking technology and innovation to improve efficiency and remain competitive in an increasingly regulated environment. Norton Rose Fulbright has a team of legal technologists in their Legal Technology Team as part of the Innovation, Design and Technology Group.
Clifford Chance offer a combination of core technology solutions with flexible applications in order to deliver efficient processes to businesses, allowing better collaboration for businesses and offer a faster completion of work using their technology. Clifford Chance combines various technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with data capabilities to create solutions in how they deliver legal services, software legal automation in order to automate processes and legal operations and workflows to leverage workflow technology which improves the efficiency and access to information for businesses, employers or their lawyer. These solutions will offer businesses and employers a better understanding to the legal technology offerings available.
Can a job in legal tech help you get a job at a law firm?
Law firms are expecting their lawyers to be tech savvy which means that prior experience and knowledge in legal tech and working with new technologies applied to law can be a positive experience on your CV.
The legal market is growing, as such the roles required in the legal profession are growing to include a legal technologist or hub innovation manager. These roles allow law firms, businesses and companies, or their in-house lawyer, to identify solutions, in order to provide industry knowledge expertise to fast-track legal operations.
What skills do you need to enter the legal tech space
A key requirement for getting jobs in the legal tech space is to have a genuine interest in the legal industry and the desire to improve access to legal technology. Whilst it might help to have a background in law or in the legal industry, it is not a prerequisite as there are plenty of roles in the legal tech market which don't require a law degree. For example, legal tech companies will hire software developers, business development teams and product managers in addition to legal professionals. Moreover, gaining exposure from other industries can be an advantage for identifying legal tech improvements.
Often the skills and experience for these roles as a general rule may require individuals to be driven, have time management skills, communication skills, Microsoft excel skills, experience being involved in previous technology processes, an understanding of project management methodologies and individuals who are interested in technology. Individuals may also be required to have technical skills, maybe studied computer science, a stem subject or completed specific qualifications from a stem background.
Employers may seek an individual/lawyer who has a particular interest in smart contracts, technology, data science, data services, previous experience handling legal issues, which may include law graduates, individuals with product management experience, or someone who is interested in working in-house with a business offering its clients legal.
How to find a job in legal tech
In order to find a job in legal tech, you need to first decide if you would like to work at a legal tech startup or in the legal tech team of a law firm and whether you have particular interests in the legal tech field. Law graduates can also consider obtaining a training contract from a legal tech startup as an alternative to the traditional training contract with a law firm. Alternatively a lawyer may consider moving from a firm to a legal tech company in order to increase their knowledge and build their understanding of available legal tech offerings.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.