Lawyers must embrace technology and digitalization that could help about one billion people who don’t have access to justice, said Mark Beer, president of the International Association for Court Administration.
“Lawyers have to stop focusing on profit, stop focusing on themselves, and look at how using technology can serve the needs of a billion people around the world who have no access to justice at the moment,” Beer told the MBRSC Post on the sidelines of the Legal Technology and Innovation Forum held on Monday at the JW Marriott hotel in Dubai.
Half of those billion cases are categorized as “serious,” according to Beer, and 16% of these are referred to a lawyer and 5% go to the court. “This is known as the Justice Gap,” Beer said. When asked what they want from the legal system, those deprived of it say they want “access to legal advice, and to efficient online problem-solving tools,” he said.
“The Shanghai High Court has a facility which runs off of ‘WeChat’, the ‘WhatsApp’ equivalent in China where you send in your legal questions to the Court, and a piece of technology sends you the answers back,” he said. “It’s online, user friendly, works 24/7, and free.”
Jana Sukkarieh, an engineer for natural language processing, said “it’s about time for digitization to enter the heavily regulated legal domain.” “But it’s not just about building technology; it’s also about convincing the policy-makers and legal systems in a certain country to adopt certain technologies.”
It’s important to “help lawyers be aware that the technology is not replacing them, but augmenting their work, freeing them to do more insightful work,” Sukkarieh added.
According to Mr. Beer, “the friction, in terms of implementation of law tech trends, is that the legal community is fearful that the law tech is going to take away their income stream, therefore, regulators are the ones to slow down the implementation of law tech.”
He concluded with a call to regulators to “embrace technology.” “It’s not there to frighten you. Allow new technology to open up based on the needs of the consumer, not on the needs of the provider; legal technology that serves the needs of your community, not the need of technology that makes lawyers richer.”