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Technological advancement is one area of society that seemingly operates with perpetual motion. Innovation is increasing at an astonishing rate, and the technological trajectory is heading in a direction that we once would consider sci-fi. So, will we ever reach the age of the digital lawyer? Perhaps so, thinks Dean Orgill, Chairman of Mayo Wynne Baxter.
“It’s just a matter of time. Technology is fascinating, although slightly scary, but all change is.” Dean has continuously been involved in the management of Mayo Wynne Baxter at Board level and became Chairman in 2011.
In the wider business community Dean Chairs the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and sits on the Greater Brighton Economic Board. Dean also chairs the committee of the Institute of Directors for Sussex (he was elected a Fellow of the IoD in 2015) and has held leadership roles within the Gatwick Diamond Initiative Limited and Sussex Law Society.
Dean continues, “I think it’s a question of when we move to the digital lawyer, rather than if. Given the direction of travel, I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen. There will always be a place for social contact and personal contact, but I think technology will fundamentally change how we operate as an industry.”
The future in some senses almost holds no bound. Technology which is readily available today was almost inconceivable thirty years ago. So where could the next thirty, or even one-hundred years take us?
“Are we going to create the virtual lawyer? Can we program AI to be me? Perhaps we won’t need video conferencing, as there is already a digital version of myself already programmed! People may ask my digital-self questions and they get will answer from me, and I could be elsewhere.”
Given the trajectory and rate of progress, then why not? This truth is almost inconceivable today; however, the foundations of this technology are already offering present-day benefits.
“You’ve got to keep looking to the future and preparing. We need to gauge the speed, assess the business and markets and see where that leaves us in the meantime. Then, our successors, who will come through a different environment, will have different ideas and they will take it on to the next stage. But we have to lay the foundations today.”
Mayo Wynne Baxter’s ingrains openness, change and technology within the firms’ culture, and this culture provides present-day commercial benefits, with the launch of LawEasier, a premium online legal resource for smaller businesses. Technology, entrepreneurialism and openness to change have lowered the cost-barriers to legal advice, this new online subscription service offers the market cost-effective online legal services.
“Customers have basic needs, so we have to meet those needs, and do so in a way that makes it attractive for people to use it, and technology is a huge part of that. Our system means that we can deliver legal service with technology, and because there can be little human interaction, it means it’s cost-effective for those consumers who are price conscious. That’s a very simple way in how we see the market developing. There’s more that digital can provide to legal services. We focus on service and see technology as a way to do that but also provide services in a way that clients want them.”
Both Dean and Mayo Wynne Baxter can see the real value of technology, which is what it can enable an organisation to achieve, rather than the technology itself.
Markets and industry evolve rapidly, and with that so do consumer tastes and expectations. What was once innovative becomes the norm over time: “the processing power we have in our pockets now is immense. That’s not going to stop or stand still; it’s going to carry on”.
That also applies to innovative technology today: “one of the things we’re looking at now, is how AI is going to affect our market or industry. We’re certainly very alive to it”.
However, the key is not technology itself but how the culture of the organisation reacts to its environment. A firm can resist or embrace change, as it can focus on the short-term and long-term. The best strategies understand both and react appropriately to the given situation.
“For 200 years nothing changed. Then came the 1980s and it’s now continuously changing and will continue. We’ve got to be open to it and ask – how will this help us provide a better service?”
Indeed, we are possibly still in the early stages of a technological revolution.
What the future digital lawyer will look like is hard to say, but it’s hard to argue that we are not heading in that direction.
With the launch of LawEasier, the digital legal services platform where there may be no human interaction, Dean and Mayo Wynne Baxter may have already begun on that journey.