04:44, August 25 143 0

2017-08-25 04:44:09
The 60 second interview: Technology isn’t the answer to everything

Mason & Cook chief executive officer Dave Cook talks to The Lawyer ahead of this year’s Business Leadership Summit in association with Propero Partners, which focuses on the law firm of 2025.

I don’t think it will go quite that far but I do expect the number of lawyers who have some form of coding skills to increase. The most important factor will be for lawyers to embrace and adapt to new technologies and to understand the functionality and capabilities well enough to be able to advise their clients.

There is an increasing expectation from clients that law firms will consider technology solutions in addition to traditional routes, and I think this will continue. This does not mean that the lawyers themselves will have to know how to code, as firms will likely employ people that do, but they should be able to understand technology well enough to consider it as part of the overall solution in certain situations.

A partner of a global firm recently suggested to me that law firms will be selling technology products and solutions as their main revenue stream in 5 years’ time, with legal ‘consultancy’ as secondary to this. I do not personally see it quite going that far, as technology isn’t the answer to everything. The market knowledge, experience and advice that firms are able to offer clients is something that technology can’t provide.

Whilst technology will become more integral to how legal services are delivered, which lawyers will need to adapt to, the professional experience of the people within a firm will still be of the most value to clients. I therefore think that technology will have a major hand in how legal services are delivered but I don’t think it will change the shape of firms, just allow them to be more productive and provide more creative solutions to clients.

Every lawyer? – I hope not. Having a flexible structure around how lawyers work will absolutely be the norm, and it needs to be to ensure there is the flexibility that they demand. We encourage and support agile and flexible working strategies with the firms we work with and it is a really positive move from the industry in adopting this approach. I am completely behind it.

To have everyone working remotely however, and offices reducing in size to dictate that, would cause firms to lose an element of what makes them successful in my view. Lawyers, like anyone, should feel a sense of belonging to the firm they are working for, they should feel part of a team and look to collaborate with their colleagues to achieve the best outcomes for their clients.

I’m not suggesting this can’t mostly be done remotely but for all lawyers to be working remotely all of the time it would lessen the impact in these areas and could also lead to people feeling isolated and disengaged. I do not think it will be taken to that extreme though. There will definitely be an increase in lawyers accessing and using their firms agile working policies, and rightly so, but I think this will be balanced with some time spent in the office, for the very reasons above.

Looking out of the window in London and seeing the rain sheeting down in August – literally anywhere with some sunshine!