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Associate in Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s Legal Technology Group, Jude Copeland, gives an insight into the daily routine of a legal technology lawyer.
Legal technology involves using cutting-edge technology in legal practice to better serve our clients through making our service more accurate, clearer and more cost efficient. A very short time ago, being a lawyer involved reading through boxes and boxes of documents late into the night, hoping to find the “smoking guns” in any given case.
Today, legal technology lawyers use modern technology to deliver expert legal advice to our clients. We all use technology in our daily lives – from booking restaurants to personal banking, from online shopping to social media – and, just as these everyday activities have become easier and more client-friendly in the last few years, we believe the practice of law should be too.
Two key skills a good legal tech lawyer must have are strong analytical skills and excellent project management skills. These are symbiotic: a legal technology lawyer must understand the case analysis/assessment and build a robust system to corral the evidence and hone into the key documents which prove (or pose a risk to) their client’s case. We are sometimes dealing with huge amounts of complex data and we have to project-manage the review of this evidence in a practical and proportionate way, always conscious of our legal obligations as officers of the court and the overriding objectives.
It can be very varied. The Legal Technology Group at Cleaver Fulton Rankin is made up of project managers, solicitors and paralegals. I check in with them and get a sense of the work that they are carrying out. I deal with queries from other solicitors in relation to our Northern Ireland public and private sector clients about opportunities to deploy legal technology to deliver value for money or optimise and streamline their matters. I have a personal caseload that includes managing projects, quality assurance and updating and advising clients on progress and costs. At the moment, I am heavily involved in a large, complex public inquiry.
I have worked on a large number of high value and complex commercial, regulatory, competition and investigation matters. With each case, you immerse yourself in the details of that sector and that particular legal analysis. What I find really interesting is what people put in emails. I have seen emails, sent flippantly, which have single-handedly demolished a case which previously had excellent merits. The evidence in a case is always a bit of an unknown quantity and it is hugely rewarding when I find key documents which prove to be critical to the outcome of a given case.
Develop a natural curiosity and evaluate your ways of working. “It has always been done like this” is the thief of innovation and progress. However, it is worth noting that legal tech needs to be used by someone who understands the potential, the risks and the obligations. Legal technology is a tool which a skilled lawyer can use to deliver expert legal advice in a better, more accurate way and to save their clients’ time and money. Legal technology is not a panacea – but consideration of using legal technology will always be in the client’s best interests. Lawyers and the legal system exist to serve clients, not the other way around.
Find out more about our Legal Technology Group and its services here.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor.