The Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession

Posted at Legal Practice Intelligence - 8 August 2016

The Law Society of NSW is investigating the changes currently occurring in the market for legal services. A number of hearings are being held throughout the year with invited participants.

Around 40 video presentations have been posted on the Law Society website from the hearings that have already taken place. Legal Practice Intelligence selected four of the presentations below to give a snapshot of some of the themes coming out of the hearings.

It's all about cost cutting


In the big end of town, and particularly referring to her experience in-house in financial services, Coralie Kenny says “it is all about cost cutting and it’s all about control of costs.” She says that having lawyers practising in-house is so you can control the cost of legal work.

Another trend that she identifies is lawyers moving into roles of Risk and Compliance in large corporations.

Courts are embracing a paperless and digital future

Warwick Soden AOM, Principal Registrar, CEO of the Federal Court of Australia, and ex-CEO of The Supreme Court of NSW, says that digital court files and digital hearings “are an inevitability to the future.”

The Federal Court now has empty compactus in its building. Instead, it has 24,000 digital court files. Judges can look at any document on any file 24/7 from anywhere in the world. 99.9% of all documents are now lodged electronically with the court.

He says that digital litigation is the next step. “We are working on that at the moment. We plan in the future to move to a situation where hearings, predominantly all hearings, small, medium and large will be done in a digital environment in the court room.” Not to have paper in the court room is “inevitable”.

The whole concept of page numbers and sequential numbering will be a thing of the past because of the ease of instantly finding documents digitally.

Reducing the cost of litigation

Jonathan Prideaux of Clayton Utz spoke about the efficient management of documents in the litigation life cycle. He estimates that the cost of Discovery represents on average about 20% of the overall cost of litigation.

He is an advocate for unique document numbering. When a document is included in litigation it should retain its unique identifying number.

A huge amount of time and cost could be saved by eliminating re-sequencing, re-numbering and re-formatting for courts. These are practices that have come from times that pre-date almost all of the technology that is available and used today. 

If a document that is relevant to a court matter retained its unique identifying number, hyperlinks could be used to access it from any submission. A digital court file therefore takes on the characteristics of a digital matter in a modern practice/document management system.

Small law firms are big users of technology

Richard Hugo-Hamman, CEO of LEAP Legal Software, spoke from the small law firm perspective.

In his submission, Richard Hugo-Hamman provided ample evidence to debunk the myth that small law firms are backward in their acceptance and use of technology.

He told the hearing that Australia has the most sophisticated integrated searching system in the world. In addition, 5,000 lawyers use the company’s online precedents and forms every day, which are also integrated with the LEAP practice management system.

Link to video pages

Above images taken from video pages

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