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Global Finance: Tech Comes To Big Law

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Lawyers are not supposed to “move fast and break things.” They are a stabilizing force, making sure that innovation conforms to the established rules of business and society and leaves no costly “i” undotted. As an institution, the judiciary has a built-in resistance to rapid change.

Lawyers are also a huge cost center that is ripe for some economy. Legal departments and firms remain pantheons of paperwork. Reams of nearly identical documents are processed by expensive human hands and pile up in hard copy. Global spend on legal services weighed in at $729 billion last year, according to Statista Research. That’s bigger than the gross domestic product of Saudi Arabia.

Now, technology and fresh thinking—boosted by the coronavirus—are finally bringing reform to law firms. “Changes you saw in HR 10 years ago, and finance seven years ago, are finally getting to the general counsel’s office,” says Cornelius Grossmann, Berlin-based global law leader at EY. “The pandemic is truly an accelerator.”

A more complex challenge falls under the heading of contract life-cycle management. Agreements between real estate developers and builders, for instance, may stretch forward for years, with multiple deadlines involving penalties for missing them or rewards for coming in early. It’s hard for human beings to keep track of these, so one side or another tends to cheat itself, says Daniel Reed, CEO of New York-based legal consultant UnitedLex. “Typically a contract goes into a drawer, and you see 8%-12% revenue leakage over the course of it,”

This story was published on Global Finance. To read more, visit Tech Comes To Big Law.