Lightfoot told a cautionary tale that has become all too common in business: technology will enable disruptors to disrupt and the professional services arena is no exception. She asserted that a staggering 50 per cent of traditional law firms would be wiped out in the next ten years; superseded by new market entrants facilitating the changing needs of their clients.
‘In some cases, companies have seen that they no longer have to go to law firms and, instead, can buy in the technology to replicate the lawyer’s services,’ she said. ‘The majority of legal buyers don’t fully understand what lawyers do anyway. Legal firms should stand in the shoes of the buyer: think about what they really want to know in laymen’s terms, laymen speak; clients need to understand the document that’s just been sent.’
Lightfoot, a trained solicitor herself, explained that she has been on the receiving end of documents from other legal professionals that she can make no sense of, claiming that in the majority of instances clients buying legal services don’t have a clue what is being said. She believes the solution lies in Artificial Intelligence, proffering that a third of consumers are happy to interact with the technology, where it brings them value.
So, where is the value proposition? Professional services organisations can look to the strengths of both humans and machines to create the right balance: ‘Humans become experts through experience. Computers have an advantage with the mathematical and memory, so use machines for that. Imagine brain dumping your expertise into software to multiply the human offering.’
The future is here, as Lightfoot concludes: ‘A machine doesn’t have the experience; it can’t see or feel or exhibit wisdom – a human lawyer collaborating with the machines is the best possible scenario.’
By Peter Hay - May, 2018