The Legal Sector: Will it be Innovation or Stagnation?

Do you read the newspaper digitally or on paper? Personally, I still prefer the paper version, preferably with an espresso every morning. But that doesn’t mean I get all the news that I consume daily from the morning paper.

In fact, I have already received most of the headlines through the notifications on my phone, which is very “smart” and knows exactly what I’m interested in. I mainly read the newspaper for the background stories.

And what if I want to look something up? Do I pick up last week’s newspaper or do I look it up with a smart search engine? The answer is easy to guess. But what about the legal practice and notarial profession? I still regularly hear lawyers manually process huge stacks of files or contracts. Reading, comparing and drafting contracts is still one of the most common activities for a lawyer. But with manually searching or comparing contracts, a lawyer loses a lot of valuable time and the chance of making mistakes due to this monotonous work is very high.

Revolutionary Transformation in the Legal Industry

Research by Erasmus University shows the way in which an organisation is structured and managed, determines its innovative strength. Now, you could conclude that the innovative strength within the legal practice and the notarial profession isn’t bad. The organisations are hierarchically structured, and lawyers are naturally risk averse.

Yet there is hardly any industry that has recently transformed as quickly as the legal industry. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, almost everyone worked in the office, now 95% work from home. To me, it doesn’t matter that this was caused by an external factor. This very conservative industry, which has always been as flexible as a lead door, has changed significantly, hopefully forever.

The pandemic, as bad as it may be, could just bring about a culture change within the entire legal sector. Some, such as Jeroen Zweers (founder of NOUN, co-founder of Dutch Legal Tech and Vice President of the European Legal Tech Association), speaks of a true industrial revolution in the industry. However, this revolution only concerns office automation, which makes working from home possible. The real cultural change must take place at the top of the organisations. The partners within the organisations must be shaken up and embrace customer-oriented solutions. So, it is time for innovation instead of stagnation!

Legal Tech and Startups

Legal tech – the technology that innovates legal tasks by working smarter and more efficiently – and startups, are often mentioned in the same breath. Nalanda Technology is one such dynamic startup that helps legal professionals work smarter, faster, and more accurately. The Nalytics platform offers legal professionals a forensic search platform that helps to search and analyse files or contracts at lightning speed, to ultimately be able to report on them.

In addition to our platform, we have developed specific applications for the legal sector. For example, our Land Registry Compare solution supports the investigation of cadastral extracts. In the context of the GDPR, our Nalytics Search and Redact solution facilitates the editing of personal data, such as scanned passports or driving licenses.

Sitting Still is Not an Option

Today, there are numerous startups and applications for the legal industry available. For the top of the legal profession there is the “legal app store” Reynen Court, with more than 160 tech companies. In addition, Raymond Blijd, founder of Legal Pioneer and Legal Complex, keeps an eye on the market worldwide with a database of more than 13,000 companies. Another initiative is Orrick’s Observatory, an interactive platform with more than 600 solutions for the legal sector.

Enough to choose from. But whatever you do, don’t sit still. Get started, innovate and digitise! Give the startup a chance, interact with them, co-create and experiment. Because innovation does not have to be expensive or complex at all, and could reap your business many rewards in return.