As an experienced litigator, Lauren Hertel knows all too well the costs of going to court. Lauren was a liability claims officer for QBE insurance before becoming a solicitor practising in insurance and maritime law. Time and again, she would see clients decide against pursuing their legal claims in court due to prohibitive cost. That is why she founded Disburse It, a platform to connect law firms with funders providing loan funding for legal action.
Legal innovation ‘chipping away’ at barriers to justice
“Legal innovation, technology, and disruption has had a major impact on the way in which lawyers work and consumers interact with the legal profession,” said Lauren. “Consumers were so often left in the dark when it came to accessing even basic legal information.
“Legal innovation, technology, and disruption are slowly chipping away at these barriers and making justice more accessible, both from a time and cost point of view,” Lauren said. Personally, she is seeing a shift towards a more open and accessible legal industry.
“This is creating so many wonderful opportunities for both lawyers and allied legal professionals to come in and add value which ultimately benefits the justice system as a whole. Access to justice is such a key component of civil society that any initiatives designed to improve this should be fostered.
Threatening the ‘old way’ in a good way
“Legal innovation poses a threat to the ‘old way’ of doing things – but this is a good thing!” Lauren declared. “A more open and transparent industry will engender more consumer trust as they access legal services, which will hopefully lead to a better overall experience of the justice system.”
Initiatives that demystify the law, such as legal design thinking, also provide for better customer experience.
“This should flow on to fewer complaints and disputes arising in the first place,” said Lauren. “Within the profession, legal innovation is creating greater flexibility in the way lawyers can work. Stress, burn-out and poor mental health are unfortunately rife within the profession and legal innovation is shaking up existing structures and cultures which have contributed to this. So much more work needs to be done but there are real opportunities to make the profession a kinder and easier place to work.”
Lauren predicts that automation could yield major productivity gains.
“There is a lot of scope for legal technology to improve repetitive legal work through automation,” said Lauren. “We could also see greater access to justice, with small claims, minor disputes, and simple litigation sorted quickly and efficiently with increased use of bots, machine learning, and online dispute resolution services.”
The collaboration between law firms and clients will also improve, which Lauren expects to be driven by multi-party platforms and software integrations.
“These and other collaborative processes will enable firms and clients to really work together and have a much deeper understanding of each other’s business, which will lead to better quality outcomes,” said Lauren.
CLI coordinating thought leadership, education, and industry collaboration
“Educating lawyers will help them navigate the uncharted waters of legal innovation,” said Lauren.
“The profession has seen more innovation and change recently than it has for the last few centuries,” said Lauren. “It is a challenging time but also exciting for those willing to embrace the disruption. Most ignorance and fear comes from a lack of understanding, so providing education at all levels of the profession is key to supporting legal professionals through these uncharted waters.
“University and CLE courses that are focussed less on ’he law’ and more on skills that assist with delivering legal services in a more innovative and efficient way are key – data analytics, financial modeling, coding, marketing, and design skills are becoming more and more relevant to being a successful practicing lawyer.”
The Centre for Legal Innovation (CLI) plays a key role in supporting the profession through disruption and change.
“By providing a coordinated approach to thought leadership, education and industry collaboration, the CLI is ensuring the profession continues to move forward and keep pace with our changing world. The legal industry has traditionally been quite wedded to the status quo so fostering innovation and change at an industry level is so important,” said Lauren. “I’m sure the very idea of ‘legal innovation’ was a foreign concept even 10-20 years ago!”
For new lawyers who may be apprehensive as they enter the profession, Lauren advises resilience and an open mind.
“Get excited! You have a wonderful opportunity to enter a profession on the cusp of transformation and therefore play a part in shaping the future of the legal industry,” said Lauren. “You can build a career that really resonates with you because there are so many more opportunities opening up in the profession. Your dream legal job may not even exist yet! However, complement this excitement with flexibility and resilience. Change is not an easy process and you will need these skills to navigate the uncertainty.”
Join Lauren for an in-person (COL Qld - Brisbane) or virtual demo of Disburse It as part of CLI’s Legal Techy Tuesday series on 10 December from 1pm-2pm AEST (Brisbane time). Those of you attending in-person are welcome to also join us for a light lunch from 12.30pm too. Registration is open and required please.