Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy September 8, 20178 September 2017

Legal futures round-up


Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our regular round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.

Thomson Reuters recently shared findings that show 484 per cent increase in global patent filings for new legal services technology in the last five years, the bulk in 2016 being filed in the U.S. (38 per cent), China (34 per cent) and South Korea (15 per cent).

To Mark A. Cohen, the findings are evidence that China is “fast becoming a force  in the global legal marketplace… actively working on tech solutions – including artificial intelligence.” For an overview of top Chinese legal tech companies, check out this rundown by Artificial Lawyer.

A new index has been launched to measure innovation in legal services delivery among law firms. Behind the effort is Daniel Linna, the director of the Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law.  His hope is that buyers of legal services will use the index to gauge the efficiency of their law firms. 

By Linna’s own admission, the index is far from perfect as it relies heavily (based on Google advanced searches) on what law firms say about their innovation efforts on their websites. There is no guarantee that they are doing anything meaningful.

Still, it offers a window into how firms see the innovation landscape evolving. And the emerging technology that appears to have captured their imagination is blockchain – even more so than artificial intelligence.

Meanwhile, Nicole Black, writing from the U.S., applauds the efforts of bar associations to help lawyers meet their ethical obligation to stay abreast of technological advancements.

And Kenneth Grady makes the case for incremental innovation with purpose  by focusing efforts on fixing flaws in your business model.

Speaking of business models, Bruce McEwen suspects that litigation is on the decline as a major driver of revenue for law firms. He also remarks that realization rates are dropping against realization rates from transactional work: “for every $1.00 of transactional work you billed in 2014 you collected 85 cents, and for every $1.00 of litigation you collected 81-½ cents.  Today you still collect 85 cents for transactional, but barely 79 cents for litigation.”

On the access to justice front, the BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project has released its final report. It’s part of a larger effort to encourage lawyers to unbundle services with a  view to helping individuals who cannot afford full legal representation.  Kari D. Boyle has helpful write-up on it.

Turning to education, Julius Melnitzer reports that the future of articling is still being hotly debated in Ontario.  He interviews Chris Bentley, the Law Practice Program’s managing director at Ryerson University, who frames the question in terms of how we can “best serve consumers and businesses who have to deal with legal issues in the 21st century.”

Finally, Jordan Furlong dishes out some helpful advice to anyone considering applying to law school.  Required reading for that rare student out there who doesn’t really know what they want to do.  

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