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Legal Advice Centre

Legal tech: myths and the truth

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What is legal tech?

Legal tech refers to the technology used in the legal field. An example is artificial intelligence, which has been used to scan and proof documents and assist in legal research. Employing powerful research tools enables lawyers to provide more accurate and efficient legal services for their clients.

Due to Covid-19, reliance on technology to connect people has expanded rapidly. Even the legal world (which is a traditionally technology adverse sector) has been touched by these technological developments. Although it is worth noting that to date, adaptation has been markedly slow.


Legal tech is progressively becoming more popular due to its efficacy. With more lawyers transitioning to a remote working environment, technology has become an essential tool to connect with others. However, legal tech has a further purpose beyond simply providing tools to connect in the context of the pandemic; it also provides assistive tools to help lawyers complete work efficiently with less manpower required.

Take the example of E-signature software such as DocuSign and AdobeSign. With electronic signatures having the same legal recognition as written signatures, these tools enable convenience and promptness in creating binding contracts where signatures are required. This is especially useful in connecting lawyers with clients in the context of the pandemic, where there are limited opportunities for face-to-face meetings to garner written signatures. Moreover, even when the pandemic is over, E-signature software will still maintain its relevance. It will aid lawyers in obtaining signatures for documents in a faster manner than if physical signatures were to be obtained, reducing the amount of workload.

The benefits of legal tech can be summarised as below.

  • Increased productivity: legal tech enables tasks to be completed with less human input (e.g. scanning legal documents, streamlining communications, and finding relevant clauses from data). This frees up lawyers to focus on more complex issues, driving up productivity.
  • Improving competitiveness by helping smaller firms differentiate themselves and compete with established firms who still have not adapted to the tech developments. They can offer improved and unique client services ultimately contributing to a more competitive legal sector.
  • Increased client satisfaction as automated tasks, like contract drafting, allows lawyers to be more efficient. This enables clients to reap the benefits of increased efficiency such as quicker responses to their legal queries at a lower cost.

Growing impacts on the legal sector

Roughly a quarter of law firm respondents identified drafting and project management tools as areas of unmet needs within their organisations. Moreover, a 2015 PwC report indicated that improving the use of technology was the top priority (94%) for law firms. Particular areas of focus included artificial intelligence, legal research, and automation. Inevitably, tech developments are bound to bolster innovation departments within law firms.

Obstacles to adoption

There are two clear obstacles preventing legal tech from being implemented widely. Firstly, there is often a lack of time invested in understanding technology. This stems from the conservative mindset of lawyers, resulting in most lawyers preferring to use proven techniques that minimise risk, as opposed to the unknown. This causes hesitancy to take time out of busy schedules to understand and adopt new solutions.

Secondly, there is often difficulty obtaining a budget for the initial investment. While many budget holders are not against the idea of implementing legal tech, they need a valid financial reason to invest in the product. This is especially a problem with artificial intelligence, multiple initial use is needed to generate lots of sample data, and logic for the machine to learn. Benefits may only be apparent in the long run, which makes obtaining budgets for initial investment difficult.


Myth: Legal tech will replace lawyers. Artificially intelligent technology will automate administrative tasks to the extent that firms will only need to hire a few lawyers, rendering others jobless.

Truth: While artificial intelligence can process tasks that are logical and time-consuming such as pointing out non-compete clauses, specialised tasks such as analysing the relevance of a clause in a dispute still require the input of skills such as human decision-making by trained lawyers. Given that legal tech mostly provides highly specific tools, it requires use with human input to provide useful solutions. Thus lawyers will still remain a key part of the legal industry.

Myth: For smaller firms, legal tech is too expensive an investment, better suited to bigger law firms. However, even bigger firms will not need this investment, given their large IT departments.

Truth: While investing in legal tech may seem a massive initial expenditure, the long-term benefits in cost savings and efficiency are likely to outweigh the initial costs. Thus, firms, both big and small, should not underestimate the value of this investment in the long run.

Myth: Legal tech is too complicated to understand and implement.

Truth: Legal tech is not complicated to understand and does not require a lot of time to understand the basics. Crucially, you do not need to have knowledge of complex coding to be able to understand how to use legal tech. You just need to learn how to use the tools and software, which can be done by simply following provider instructions. With some time spent on training, anyone can learn how to use legal tech effectively.

Myth: Legal tech is the solution to all law-related issues. This stems from the marketing of legal tech and innovation, causing high expectations of what artificial intelligence is capable of.

Truth: Legal tech is not the solution to all legal problems and issues. For instance, E-filing helps lawyers to submit court documents electronically. However, it cannot be used for other issues like automation of documents (the use of software to digitise the full document lifecycle). Legal tech merely provides specialised tools for lawyers to aid them in their work.

Tech Start-ups in the UK

The UK is home to global leading legal tech hubs.


The core of their platform is the Legal Inference Transformation Engine (LITE), built from machine learning (a subset of artificial intelligence) and pattern recognition. This tool is used by lawyers to recognise and analyse patterns in documents, enabling the machine to identify important information that could be relevant for litigation.

Red Points

The company offers software that searches marketplaces and scans photos using image recognition technology to identify counterfeit brands. It automates repetitive chores involved in detecting and reporting counterfeits. Clients then receive a report containing the number of intellectual property and identity infringers, preparing them with the information make appropriate legal decisions.


Emails are the most commonly used channels for potential cyberattacks, such as phishing (posing as a trustworthy institution to get sensitive information). Therefore, Tessian created a ‘Human Layer Security Platform’ to protect people’s data. Powered by machine learning, the software analyses and adapts to human behavioural patterns to prevent crucial data breaches to employees’ emails. This enables sensitive information to be protected, a valuable tool given the importance of confidentiality in the legal industry.


While the implementation of artificial intelligence throughout the legal industry has yet to be widespread, it has great potential to become a valuable asset which lawyers can rely upon to deliver better quality, quicker and cheaper legal services to clients. Thus, its gradual reach throughout the industry should be viewed as an exciting development as opposed to a threat to the existence of lawyers.


By Saumya Garg, LLB Law student at Queen Mary University of London




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