The Great Flow
"The number of people who invest their time and money in the development of legal tech in Ukraine is increasing. Today, we use the whole world as a source of ideas and, therefore, changes are inevitable" Michael KHARENKO, PARTNER AT SAYENKO KHARENKO, GIVES ENCOURAGING FORECASTS
— What sets the trend for the development of global legal services market today?
— Traditional legal services take a back seat. Today, the world needs legal business decisions more than ever before. This means that we should completely change our thinking and processes, transform organizational structure, rapidly acquire new skills and involve experts in the work who will help to create the new, asked-for legal product at the intersection of practices.
— Are you talking about the introduction and development of legal tech?
— About that, too, but let’s just add: legal tech can be understood both as digital business tools that have already successfully saved time and the costs of clients, and the latest developments in the field of artificial intelligence, which is still learning to understand the subtleties of human speech and write memoranda, but for the time being it will remain a more fashionable topic and trendy advantage of the law firms implementing it.
— What technological trends are the focus now?
— In recent years, developers have started to create applications not only for lawyers, but also for their clients. According to Thomson Reuters, over the past five years the number of patent applications for new legal technologies has increased by 484%. The market is developing, customer demand is changing too. Today, we can identify several remarkable trends that make our profession, oddly enough, close to the people.
One of the obvious trends is online legal services. It's not just about "lawyer exchanges" that provide online consultations, but also about chat bots and services that offer standard solutions to legal issues. In the most developed countries, it is easier and cheaper to make a will, file a complaint, issue a patent and even manage the rights to a trademark on the Internet. Freemium business models uniting standard legal services with an automated service are the winners here.
Another important trend is mobility, which enables you to save paid hours of specialists. The smartphone has almost become a fully-fledged working tool: right on the way, the lawyer gets access to databases, finds the necessary information with the help of a bot or draws up a document. Also, computer-assisted learning should increase the efficiency of the lawyer's work, since learning programs process an array of information, which will significantly reduce the search time and provide accurate results.
— Doesn't that mean that the legal market is interested in developing technological innovations?
— One would think, why should the law firm invest time and money into the development or implementation of a product, if it is already successful? Nevertheless, firms with multi-billion turnovers like, for example, Dentons, create their own accelerators of legal-tech projects and even grow in-house technological projects. The tops of the traditional market already understand that talented startups can drive them out, so it's time to think strategically.
— In October 2017, you were a member of the jury at the Innovating Justice Boostcamp Kyiv where the best Ukrainian legal tech startups were represented. How do legal technologies develop in Ukraine?
— Someday, world-scale legal projects will appear in Ukraine, but so far nobody has the time: developers sell their "hands", lawyers are busy selling their practices, there is no time left to create a new intellectual product. At the same time, lawyers do not like to make mistakes, and when it comes to creating an IT product, we should take risks and be prepared for mistakes.
And yet, the first viable solutions are emerging and, which is more important, this process involves the new generation of lawyers, early adopters with a flexible and dynamic thinking. For example, the Pinky Solutions project, which became the best at the Innovating Justice Boostcamp Kyiv, offers a tool for e-commerce that helps to settle disputes. This is a service for the disgruntled customers based on the negotiation theory: thanks to this service you will be able to draw up a complaint and negotiate with the retailer more quickly and efficiently than to seek a solution through the support service or, even more, in the courtroom.
As for the boostcamp, I have a dual impression: on the one hand, both the decisions and startups lack maturity but, on the other hand, the number of startups has increased and, consequently, the number of people who invest their time and money in the development of legal tech in Ukraine has increased too. So, I am optimistic: today we use the whole world as a source of ideas and, therefore, changes are inevitable.
— How do you and your law firm respond to changes? Are you ready for the innovation future?
— Undoubtedly. The world around us is changing rapidly, innovations expand the legal boundaries and we are not going to be left behind. We established the Neworld Lab research and innovation department within our firm. This is a pilot project created to forecast these changes and prepare for them. How? We analyze global trends in science and economy, analyze Government control in various countries and think about new legal solutions for the day following the day after tomorrow. Recently, we published the first Neworld Lab product – Review of the main changes of the regulatory environment in the ICO market in various countries. To prepare and represent this material for a broad audience, we collected and analyzed legal trends in 16 countries. And since the situation is changing very quickly, we plan to make such reviews regularly. Stay with us and follow the developments, an interesting future awaits us!