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Humans and computers will beat a human or a computer.

Humans and computers will beat a human or a computer.

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) just released an interesting report on the evolution of law and legal services in Canada. The initiative, CBA Futures, outlines a number of the major challenges facing small, medium and large legal outfits. The full report identifies the coming onslaught of online legal services and international firms that will commoditize much of the bespoke legal services that currently supply billable hours to small and medium size firms.

At Nimonik we couldn't agree more. There is a tremendous opportunity to automate and systematize many legal services. We use CorporationCentre for  some basic paperwork and many of our clients use us to compliment external and internal legal resources. The Globe and Mail rundown of the report outlines how eBay resolves over 60 million conflicts online. Canadians, with their backlogged courts and high legal bills are realizing there has to be a better way.

The situation is not significantly different abroad. In the UK and Australia, major changes to the bar association hves allowed non-legal players to enter the market, reducing the costs for all. In the US, large firms have been hit by the economic shifts (article) of large and medium size corporations and the shear number of graduating lawyers. The only way law firms can survive and prosper is to embrace a symbiotic relationship with technology and their clients to ensure a smooth delivery of legal services.

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There is no way to say how this will all end, but just as the publishing industry and newspapers once seemed invincible, change is coming to the legal industry. Lawyers will always be needed, but they must innovate with technology – not in opposition or in isolation of it. In an interesting parallel, it has been shown that the combination of chess software with chess players is more powerful than a chess computer alone or a chess grandmaster alone.  As we work with legal in house counsel to help them systematize their tracking of legal risk and better communicate issues inside their organization, we have come to see the power of easy to use technology in managing legal risks. Lawyers in house and external have a massive wealth of knowledge and experience that frankly, cannot be automated, but providing them with tools to explore case law, identify issues and understand changes to law takes their brains and talent to the next level. At Nimonik we firmly believe the real opportunity for innovation in the legal sphere is not to replace lawyers with robots, but to build robots that help lawyers perform their work better, faster and cheaper.

Also see

Humans and Chess on Wikipedia and NY Review of books