Technical Innovations For The Law Profession -
Why The Great Time Is Now For Modern Lawyers

Legal tech and artificial intelligence have fundamentally changed everyday work in German companies. Legal departments and law firms can also benefit from innovative technologies to complete their standard tasks more efficiently and improve the exchange of information with their clients and staff. The use of intelligent software also has a positive impact on job satisfaction, because modern lawyers can devote a large part of their capacities to demanding tasks instead of being bogged down by tedious routine work.

 

Remote work improves the work-life balance

Four out of ten German companies already give their employees the opportunity to do their work from their home office or other locations. The trend is strongly increasing, because more and more company managements appreciate the advantages that remote work brings for the satisfaction of the employees and thus finally for the success of the entire company. In the legal profession, as well, it has been shown that dispensing with the constant presence of the entire staff saves costs and has a positive effect on the work-life balance of employees. Today, almost all clients have the technical means to communicate online, and a video chat can replace a face-to-face meeting for almost every client meeting. Highly secure digital solutions are now also available for correspondence between lawyers and their secretarial staff.

Those who integrate some useful tools into their practice routine can save themselves and their staff long journeys to the office. Daily commuting to the workplace wears out the nerves and takes up time capacities that can be used more sensibly. In addition, office space can be reduced, which is a considerable cost factor, especially in conurbations. Furthermore, the digital law firm offers the possibility of attracting specialists without spatial limitations. Those who can only look for specialised lawyers or suitable secretarial staff locally will always be limited to a small pool. The majority of those who already work location-independently have had good experiences with this, because the time flexibility enables a better work-life balance and avoids stress.

 

The advantages of digital document transfer and voice recognition

German lawyers have been experimenting with speech recognition programmes for a minimum of 20 years, and the quality of these programmes has steadily improved. After a certain familiarisation period, which every software needs to get used to the voice of the person dictating, speech recognition programmes today generate up to 120 syllables per minute with a hit accuracy of 95 %. Even a very good professional typist only manages 60 syllables per minute. Because of the low error rate, the finished document can be edited with little effort. For all lawyers who can speak faster than they can type, speech recognition software is also ideal for texts other than classic pleadings. For example, anyone who sends e-mails to clients can work much faster if they speak their texts.

In addition, modern possibilities to transmit data and documents digitally can save a lot of time, paper and stress, both in the relationship between lawyer and client and within the office. Paper files have had their day, because they are difficult to transport and costly to reproduce, while they take up a lot of space in storage and have to be destroyed at great expense. Moreover, classic files bear the risk of being lost or damaged. The advantages of digital file management, on the other hand, are immense: the lawyer working on the case and, if necessary, another person can access the e-file from any place and at any time. Modern systems can also be used to transmit large amounts of data that are not suitable as e-mail attachments and for which sending by e-mail would not be secure enough. Digital document handling eliminates the need for storage space and reduces destruction to a minimum.

 

Automatic document creation and analysis

Legal tech plays a special role in the creation and review of documents. Not only standard contracts with pre-formulated clauses, but also many other documents, from a general action for performance to the termination of a tenancy, always consist of identical text modules with only minimal variations. Here, software based on artificial intelligence can relieve the user of the time-consuming manual text creation and checking. The programme can create templates from all existing documents, which can then be edited as required.

In addition to standard formats such as PDF or Word, current tools are also able to read out various other file formats and directly process scanned documents in order to then save all files in the desired format. The intelligent software remembers dangerous clauses and formulations for the future and avoids all risks in the next draft. Legal Tech can also save lawyers time, increase the efficiency of their work processes and reduce the error rate when reviewing documents that have already been drafted, which previously required a lot of file skimming and reading.This is because the programme quickly finds all the places in all the documents concerned where there could be inadmissible clauses. The software can take certain specifications into account, for example, it searches on instruction for all those tenancy agreements in which the rent exceeds 1,000 euros or in which a special right of termination has been agreed. Legal departments and law firms can determine which people have access to which documents according to their individual needs. Those who opt for a smart cloud solution, for example, can immediately send their drafts to the secretary’s office for follow-up.

 

Future trends: smart contracts and legal chatbots

While most lawyers still have difficulties warming up to the already established applications, IT experts have long been experimenting with the next trends. In the USA, the first legal chatbots are in use in large law firms, which provide information within seconds on simple legal questions. Artificial intelligence is also already being used to make prognostic decisions about the outcome of legal proceedings before a particular court.

The so-called smart contracts are a particularly exciting topic at the moment, but the sophisticated technology still faces implementation difficulties. The “self-executing contracts” are stored in a blockchain without the involvement of lawyers or notaries and take effect automatically after both parties agree. Settlement is also self-executing without the involvement of a fiduciary or other persons. However, since contracts under German law are subject to the provisions of the German Civil Code (BGB), the automatic contracts hardly have any legally binding effect. Also because of the difficulties of cancellation, smart contracts are not suitable for all types of legal transactions. Expert advice on concluding contracts will therefore not become superfluous in the future. On the contrary: lawyers who rise to the challenges and familiarise themselves with new technologies are now particularly in demand and can also look forward to more pleasant working conditions.

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