Legal Disruption – halfway there, but not halfway done

Legal Disruption – halfway there, but not halfway done

With the conclusion of our second Legal Disruption roadshow event in Stuttgart, we are halfway there with discussing legal tech in 2019!

On 10 April, participants from over 10 different nationalities gathered at the Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin Hotel in Stuttgart to discuss the modernisation of legal departments and how the usage of different technological solutions can increase the accuracy, efficiency, and revenue of corporate legal departments.

General counsel from companies big and small gave their impressions on what implementations have vastly improved their departmental efficiency and how digitalisation and legal tech are shaping the future of corporate legal departments. The discussion topics were fascinating and diverse – from the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence to how its potential ramifications call for the adoption of ethical guidelines on accountability and the predictability of AI tools. In addition, the modernisation of legal departments was discussed in depth, as it does not only encompass the adoption of new technology tools, but also focuses on redesigning workspaces, in order to increase flexibility, maximise productivity and facilitate collaboration. It was also brought into light how, in the context of fast-developing startups, the implementation of legal tech instruments is not so much a commodity as it is instrumental for the long-term survival of the company.

Unsurprisingly, for big and small companies alike, the recurrent theme around the disruption of legal departments was efficiency, and particularly how automation tools can help reduce levels of stress, save time, money and, most importantly, free up valuable working hours to focus on new and different challenges.

This leads us to one of the most important takeaways from this Legal Disruption event: the key to a successful modernisation of any legal department lies in achieving the delicate balance between technology and human touch.

As cleverly put by Ruud Van Herpen (Xebia Group), in this era of pervasive digitalisation, “1+1 no longer equals 2, but 3”, meaning that, while humans and machine can each do great things separately, when those two elements are combined, they can accomplish much more than could have been imaginable just a few years ago.

Indeed, while the common fear surrounding legal technology is that in-house professionals are destined to be “replaced by the machines”, by listening to the speakers’ presentations one realises that not only are there areas where the machines will never be able to replace humans – conflict resolutions, creative thinking, ingenuity…  – but also that, when properly used, automation can actually contribute to unlock the best out of human potential.

In the words of Peter Schichl (Deutsche Telekom), “Technology is important, but people are key”.

ECLA would like to extend its sincerest thank you to all who took part in this conference, and particularly to our Partners Deloitte Legal, Wolters Kluwer, Consilio and Knowliah, for making this event even possible.

It is clear that the implementation of legal tech solutions is vital for companies of all sizes and the discussion generates much interest. Than can be seen from our first two roadshow events, that took place in Dublin and Stuttgart. Even though we will have two additional Legal Disruption events in Fall 2019 – in Paris and Prague – the discussion and the impact that technological solutions impose on legal departments is not nearly finished. These are still just the first steps – a legal department in a decade will look drastically different from what it is now.