I know this may not seem like something to have a wish list about. But bear with me.
My interest in legal tech is aspirational – I want to see where it can take lawyers as human beings. I believe we went to law school to change the world, and we instead spend our days drowning in minutiae that we are indoctrinated to believe is important. Worse, our ability to deal with this minutiae without error and at extreme volume, under pressure, is what we use to define our identity as either good or bad people/lawyers.
Legal tech can help – as long as we don’t use it to double down on the same things that make the profession so stressful today.
I think this is where we need to start. We have some serious problems – life-threatening levels of ego, perfectionism, workaholism, stress, and focus on material gain at the expense of all else.
To my mind, improving these things is not a ‘nice to have’ or ‘optional’ – or (my personal favourite) ‘something that only weak/substandard lawyers need’.
So, in order, my wish list for legal tech follows. This particular wish list is the one I have for tech to support my own personal objectives: practicing the career I love while living a meaningful life outside the office and being present for my family and clients.
I want to use legal tech to:
- Give me a level of freedom from doing tasks that 95% of lawyers don’t like doing and are likely to make a mistake on because it’s so boring and tedious. (e.g. www.codifyupdates.com – Canada/UK)
- Provide me with validation of what I already instinctively know to be true from experience, to act as a sober second thought that not all lawyers who practice on their own (either in private practice or in-house) have access to. (e.g. Blue J Legal www.bluejlegal.com for tax/employment)
- Acknowledge areas in which lawyers have NEVER been appropriately suited to the task and let machines do the baseline work. (e.g. Kira Systems for due diligence www.kirasystems.com)
- Help me use data gathered from analytic processes better suited to robots to predict outcomes at every stage of my matters as circumstances change and affect the original risk calculus (e.g. CounterMeasure www.countertax.ca)
- Force lawyers (particularly solo/small firm lawyers) to work together collaboratively and become aware of our own fallibility. See how not a single one of us is perfect. We’ve all made a mistake or missed something. Put three lawyers on a document and you will get three different markups back. Minimize fear and focus on providing the best possible advice to clients.
I’d like to move away from the assumption that what we need is software that “makes us more efficient”. I think we need tech that addresses some of the root causes of our dysfunctional mindset. I’m sure there are even better ways to do this out there that I haven’t thought of, but I hope I’ll know them when I see them!
Darlene Tonelli is an entertainment and intellectual property lawyer and the founder of Inter Alia Law. She is also the co-host of the Lawyer Life Podcast, and author of the award-winning Inter Alia blog.
Inter Alia Law provides experienced in-house counsel to entertainment, media and technology companies. Each Inter Alia lawyer has significant experience gained in-house at multinational companies like Universal Music, Live Nation, Microsoft, and the WE Movement. Inter Alia lawyers represent many of Canada’s top tech, entertainment and media companies, in addition to advising individual artists, songwriters, and production companies on licensing and day to day business issues.
In her writing and public speaking engagements, Darlene encourages legal professionals to look at valuing their own happiness, authenticity, and fulfillment as core to providing the type of legal advice clients really need.