Lawyers and Technology
Let's talk about the value, shall we?
How many of us practitioners have heard or used the following:
"That seems reasonable."
"That seems sensible."
"That would be appropriate."
Why then, is it so difficult to accept that drastic changes in our world should result in necessary changes to our profession? These changes being reasonable, sensible and very much appropriate in the circumstances.
I fully believe that the legal landscape is changing and that a lot more is required and will be asked of new lawyers entering the practice in the future. Currently, we have The College of Law offering a Master of Legal Business to equip us with advanced skills to enhance our 'legal services business career'. With slogans such as "today's market calls for a new hybrid of legal professionals". There is also the RMIT Graduate Certificate in Emerging Technologies and Law and the Deakin University double degree in Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Cyber Security (to name a few). Education is on offer, but in my recent experiences, sense and sensibility less so.
I don't want to name and shame practitioners; we carry a lot of responsibility. It would be ridiculous of me as a legal professional to encourage unnecessary risk taking, poor practices or ignorance of rules and regulations. However, the point is this, if the rules have been changed and we have been given the tools to build a better future, why are we not utilising them? Yes a Nokia 3310 can take calls, send messages and is virtually indestructible, but the world knows that there are greater capabilities out there which is why every person and their dog owns an I-phone (or Samsung, sorry android clans).
Embracing Change and Fighting Technological Oppression
Lawyers today can be classified into two categories:
Those who are able to express 'that seems reasonable, that seems sensible and that would be appropriate' in response to new ideas and improved ways of working, and those who will utter the above only to reinforce their own stubborn positions.
To be clear, I have been surprised and proud of the way in which some of my fellow lawyers have taken charge and championed change since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. These initiatives include the speedy adoption of e-signing, video calls, automation and my personal favourite, action around the mental health of lawyers. But what about those who are not willing to take the opportunities presented to us? Why are some refusing the most simple of things, like using e-signing when we are clearly at a stage where it is perfectly acceptable to do so, or forcing their staff to continue to come into work with bogus permit slips (you know who you are) when they can do their jobs from home, or insisting on snail mail instead of e-mails?
How long are we, as a profession, going to permit some to oppress the rest?
I invite all of us to think about the conversations which need to be had; assertive and direct conversions. Why are some lawyers resistant to change? What are the various needs to be met? What can we adopt now and which areas demand a 'proceed with caution' label? Lawyers possess the perfect skills to lead the way. We are curious, resourceful and stubborn. Exactly what this industry requires us to be right now (only for a different purpose).
This is a call to action; to educate ourselves and others, but before all of that, to adjust our attitudes. It is time that we all embraced and encouraged the use of technology. So pause before you say no and consider the real cost of your answer to your industry.
Melbourne Law Studio Director
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