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Legal tech during Covid-19 from a young paralegal’s perspective

23 Apr 2020

by catherine

As a young paralegal and aspiring lawyer coming from a History background, legal tech is a term that I was not used to hearing about.  Often upheavals in the industry are integrated into the syllabus at law school and although the GDL puts you on a relatively level playing field with a law graduate in the knowledge of the basic principles of law, it does not give you the time or research capacity to learn about these wider changes impacting the legal profession.

Teaching yourself about foreign concepts is an important part of being a lawyer and a useful learning curve.  However, I have found it tricky as a young paralegal when I apply to a job and the recruiter asks me if I have experience of using a particular form of legal tech like ThoughtRiver and I have often never heard of it.  This brings me to my experience with legal tech and the challenges that I face with it.   

I spent a lot of my degree reading.  Sure, this allowed me to develop some excellent analytical skills and my drafting and proof-reading skills are developing, but I lack some key technological skills that are becoming more important in graduates of all disciplines.  I have set myself goals to achieve in the coming months surrounding technological developments: I have found learning JavaScript coding much easier than I thought it would be which encouraged me to continue my personal development by enrolling in an online course about FinTech. 

Attending webinars on legal tech, like the contract pre-screening platform created by ThoughtRiver, is crucial to helping young aspiring lawyers to understand these technological changes that are transforming the legal world.  AI that can read a contract and analyse it for you, displaying the problem areas and give sensible suggestions on how to reword or add in a disclosure clause is ground-breaking to me. 

There is a lot of talk about legal tech taking jobs.  This can seem daunting for a young paralegal as it may seem that the least complicated tasks that would traditionally be handed to them may soon become non-existent.  In fact, legal tech is probably going to make the job more interesting as they can move through proof reading or document review exercises quickly to engage with the more complicated legal matters. 

The main aim of legal tech is to get lawyers to be the best that they can be.  It is designed to remove the basic tasks that waste time and get skilled intelligent people doing more challenging tasks.  It is the simple jobs like disclosure or contract reviewing, that take a long time, that legal tech is aiding.  The more complicated roles like direct client contact, completing a contract negotiation or arguing in court will continue to need a human brain.  This is the positive change that legal tech is bringing and I would encourage any legal professional to embrace it.

During the session, attendees were able to gain knowledge of artificial intelligence both conceptually and in practice. Some basic training on the ThoughtRiver platform was provided and each attendee was given bespoke access to our training platform and software for a week; enabling them to explore at their own leisure.

  

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