30 August 2018

Legalpreneurs Spotlight - Chrissie Lightfoot

Published on 30 August 2018

Reimagine, reinvent and reskill for the legal revolution

Chrissie Lightfoot is no stranger to change. Her contributions to legal innovation are as impressive as her numerous accolades. As the entrepreneurial mastermind behind Robot Lawyer LISA (Legal Intelligence Support Assistant) and the Chief Executive Officer of EntrepreneurLawyerUK, she not only knows what’s coming in legal innovation – she creates it.

“Legal innovation, legal technology and legal disruption are poised to take root and take off exponentially within the next five years,” said Chrissie, benefiting lay people, businesses and the legal profession. By definition, legal innovation is vast. “It encompasses every aspect of legal services delivery.

Chrissie defined legal innovation two-fold: LegalTech, which is used by lawyers for lawyers to deliver legal services, and LawTech, which is used by lay people and businesses to directly access legal advice and products under a self-service model, without a human lawyer.

“Within these wide terms legal innovation and legal technology have achieved a great deal in the past few years, resulting in significant time savings, cost savings, efficiencies and convenience for both lawyers and clients.”

“However, large scale legal disruption remains quite narrow in its impact. This is true for firms, or for general counsel, and for clients.”

 

Up to 80-90% of a nation’s population could benefit

“It is shocking that 80-90% of a nation’s population – as reported in the UK, Canada and USA – may have been unable to fully access lawyers or law providers until now. Legal innovation and LawTech provide the opportunity to re-imagine and re-invent how legal services, products and advice are dispensed,” Chrissie said.

“There is a huge latent legal market just waiting to be served if lawyers and/or entrepreneurs have the imagination, vision, willingness and guts to do so.”

Chrissie predicted a seismic shift in what tasks lawyers do, and what roles they may have within firms, and for clients.

“Naturally, some legal innovations will pose a threat to the profession. Some tasks and roles will become redundant due to machines, superseded by new roles overseeing the machines. Some lawyers might find an entire area of their job will cease to exist - such as drafting, analysing or reviewing legal contracts.

“Consider this an opportunity, not a threat. It is a way for lawyers to adapt to how clients prefer or expect to be served.  If the lawyer isn’t willing to adapt or change then it’s a ‘fait accompli .’”

 

Rise of “Self-Service Law”

“Experience tells me that, as a whole, the legal profession will continue to embrace disruptive technologies very slowly,” she said. “Furthermore, legal professionals in different nations are at varying stages of awareness, acceptance and deployment of LegalTech and LawTech.”

Few lawyers and firms are pushing for anything more than tech which can make their jobs easier, squarely within existing business models.

“Only a teeny-tiny minority of lawyers and law firms are even contemplating the use of disruptive tech as a purely client-centric nirvana.”

This leaves the field relatively open.

In the next 10 years, Chrissie predicts a rise in non-lawyer providers of legal services, products and advice, which, regulations permitting, will move rapidly to compete with firms for existing legal work. These new providers will also begin to tackle the underserviced 90% of the legal market.

“I anticipate a huge movement toward sophisticated self-help law by consumers and businesses of every size, provided by a wide range of new and existing suppliers.”

Corporations will also turn technology inward.

“We are currently seeing a trend of large corporates using disruptive tech for themselves, rather than law firms. This will increase as technology companies aggressively target the welcoming open door of a law firm’s client rather than struggle with banging on the revolving doors of the law firm ivory tower.”

Within the next ten years, this will result in a vastly different legal landscape in which human lawyers are in the minority. Chrissie predicts ‘Legal industry specialists”, and self-service law provided by “robot lawyers” will dominate the market.

“Those in need of legal services, products or advice will enter the ‘collaborative legal matrix’ comprised of humans and machines. Right at the centre will be the client, cherry-picking the most convenient, time efficient, and cost saving service. Legal services will sit on a continuum of rudimentary to complex services and be chosen by clients according to their expectations of quality and/or quantity, aligned with their comfort level regarding trust and risk.”

 

Garner human-centric skills

To stay relevant amidst this disruptive period, Chrissie encourages lawyers to acquire skills only a human can master.

“Always be willing to learn, re-skill and re-train,” said Chrissie. “Garner a portfolio of skills and aptitudes that will stand you in good stead, including ‘human’ skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence, wisdom, creativity, persuasion, negotiation, etc. Business savvy and commercial awareness will always be of value to your client.”

“Familiarise yourself with the use of different LegalTech and LawTech; tech providers often offer tutorials and courses.”  

Chrissie praised the work of the Centre for Legal Innovation (CLI) in creating conversations around innovation and engaging lawyers, clients and innovators to drive lasting and sustainable change.

“The CLI is a timely and much needed hub to support the current and next generation of legal professionals, ‘legal industry specialists’, ‘legal users’,” said Chrissie.

 

Chrissie will be presenting at the upcoming event, Challenging the Norm! Human and machine: A dynamic duo in law, business, society and life, in Perth on 11 September 2018. This event is free for all College alumni, CLI Roundtable participants, ALPMA members, and University of Western Australia students.