12 October 2018

UK judge says there has to be an app for that!

Lawyers will lose the youth market if they fail to adapt and provide legal advice rapidly via mobile phone, according to a UK judge.


Speaking at the IBA conference in Rome, the chancellor of the UK high court Sir Geoffrey Vos said, ‘if we work with the technology revolution rather than against it, we can improve the quality of service and reduce the costs of legal advice.’

App advice

Sir Geoffrey warned, ‘there are risks, but we can minimise their adverse effects. Young people will no longer accept that legal advice is one of the only things they cannot obtain instantly or the next day with a few taps on their smartphone.’ While recognising the downsides of legal technology and artificial intelligence, Sir Geoffrey explained legal advice will become commonly delivered online in areas like property, divorce and straightforward commercial deals. However, he believes there will still be a place for face-to-face dealings, particularly in sensitive areas like child custody, complex business transactions and serious criminal charges. Sir Geoffrey explained, ‘we can use technology to cut out manual processes without reducing the quality of advice. But clients will need mechanisms that show if the advice has come from a human lawyer or is machine-assisted.’

Training need

Lastly, Sir Geoffrey concluded ‘the legal profession, the justice system and software experts need to work together to cater for a modern generation with a new technological capability. Bluntly, I don’t regard the tech revolution as a threat either to the core values of civil society, or to our legal professions.’ His speech ended with a call for lawyers to be trained ‘appropriately for the digital age. Educational structures and courses designed for the 19th and 20th centuries will not enable our lawyers and judges of the future to capitalise on the benefits of technology for clients and consumers.’

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