As many of you may have read, we will be holding a campaign at the beginning of July. We’ve called it, ‘Problems not Solutions’. Now, we should probably explain ourselves a bit here. Odd as the title may seem, we hear many lawyers (rightly) complaining that legal tech often fails to actually solve the problems they purport to.
[It] is necessary is to talk to lawyers and understand how the practice of law actually works today. Not how you hope it works after you bring your “disruptive” product to market, but how it works on the ground today. Better yet, understand the WHY. Jon Tobin
So last week we held a Twitter poll. We canvassed lawyers and asked what their biggest problems are. What was most interesting were the number of debates this sparked. Why don’t lawyers know there are solutions for some of these problems? If we ask lawyers what their problems are, their answers are likely to be unimaginative. Perhaps we should be pushing law beyond what lawyers think it needs? Because of all these excellent questions, we’ve decided to host a Twitter chat on the 11th July at 3pm CET (Dutch time). We will be discussing the three following questions, and we’d love you to weigh in on them. So add the date to your calendar!
Does solving lawyers’ problems bring us faster horses, or cars?
It’s the age old debate. If you ask someone who has only known horses what they want, they’ll ask for faster horses. They won’t ask you for a car. Unsurprisingly, this was a debate we heard repeated on Twitter when we shared our poll. So we’d love to hear from you; is asking what problems lawyers face looking at things the wrong way round? Are lawyers asking for solutions which fit neatly into their concept of how the practice of law works? Indeed, are lawyers really the right people to decide what problems legal tech should be solving?
Alternatively, do you think that if we identify the problems, then the ingenuity of the solution is secondary? After all, faster horses and cars both solve the same problem. Getting faster from A to B. So if we truly identify the struggles lawyers face, we know that the solution offered is relevant. However complex it may be?
Is legal tech better placed to help lawyers, or the general public?
Many of us working in legal tech, tend to be working on the private side. That is, we develop products of lawyers or professional use. Dera Nevin, a well known legal tech advocate, raised a great point in answer to our poll. Legal tech has the power to address problems outside of the world of lawyers. There are a number of fantastic initiatives breaking ground here. From DoNotPay to Comic Contracts, there are many ideas which seek to use technology to bridge the gap between ordinary citizens and the complexity of modern law.
So we’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Using legal tech to simplify law seems like a good idea. But is that solving the wrong problem? Should we make the law itself less complex? And how should legal tech support the interaction of people and law. After all, the rise of machine learning is leading to deductions that humans are unable to follow. Is it ethical to use this in applying the law?
Why is there a disconnect between problems and solutions?
It was a point raised by both Alex Smith and Ron Friedman. When two legal tech titans of this magnitude weigh in, you know it’s going to produce a fun debate. Both noted (quite rightly) that many of the problems shared by lawyers in our poll already have existing solutions. So why aren’t they using them yet? And this is where we’d love to hear from you! Are legal tech marketing departments letting the side down (I’ll make a solid exception for myself here at Clocktimizer)? Have lawyers been burnt before by bad tech and are not keen to embrace it so quickly this time? Do law firms move too slowly? Or do legal tech companies cost too much? There’s a million different reasons we’ve heard. Clearly there’s plenty of opinion to share about.
So, if you want to discuss these topics with us, then tune in on the 11th July at 3pm CET. Or 2pm UK time. Or 9am for you East coasters. We look forward to hearing the debate!