Solicitors understand the potential business case for lawtech – but are largely apathetic about the benefits to themselves personally, according to landmark research.

A study of attitudes to lawtech carried out by The University of Manchester, University College London and the Law Society finds that a lack of understanding by, and encouragement from, senior managers is proving a barrier to the uptake of technologies such as artificial intelligence.

‘Ultimately, it comes down to whether the people at the top of the business consider lawtech to be a strategic priority, and as such, worthy of investment – not only in terms of the purchase of new kit, but equally crucially in the form of the requisite knowledge and skills development, together with the cognitive and emotional support required to ensure that employees feel valued and psychologically equipped to face the significant change journey ahead.’

Project team member Dr Karen Nokes, lecturer in law at UCL Faculty of Laws, said that the adoption of lawtech is ‘a people issue’.

‘The legal profession is at a crossroads, with new technologies that promise to transform virtually every aspect of the legal services sector starting to gather pace,’ she said. ‘However, our report suggests that this transformation might not be as rapid as some would think. It is clear that there is a business case for adopting lawtech, but people are not necessarily equating this to how it will benefit them personally. Senior managers and leaders within law firms need to think about creating a clear connection between the benefits to the organisation and the benefits to the individual, if they want to get the buy-in they need from their professional colleagues.’

Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: ‘Partners and senior management within solicitor firms have a vital role to play to encourage and support individuals through change that greater use of technology inevitably involves. It’s essential that the legal sector capitalises on the potential benefits of lawtech, but also mitigates the risks involved by upskilling its leaders and managers in the art of change management.’

The University of Manchester Lawtech Initiative is a partnership between the university – spanning Alliance Manchester Business School, the Department of Computer Science, and the Law School – and law firms.

Source: Law Gazette

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