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The Global State of Legal Tech

Updated: May 25

The state of legal tech and its adoption across the globe reflects a profound shift in the legal industry, driven by the intersection of law and technology. This transformation is reshaping how legal services are delivered, accessed, and managed, with significant implications for legal professionals, clients, and society as a whole.

In North America, legal tech adoption is at the forefront, with the region being home to numerous legal tech startups, innovative legal service providers and it’s the “OG” when ti comes to the legal operations movement. According to a report by the American Bar Association, over 80% of large law firms in the United States have adopted some form of legal technology, ranging from AI-powered document review systems to cloud-based practice management platforms. This adoption has not only improved operational efficiency but has also enhanced client service and enabled more data-driven decision-making.

Across Europe, legal tech adoption varies by country but is steadily gaining traction. Countries like the United Kingdom and Germany are leading the charge, with a growing number of legal tech startups focusing on areas such as legal research, contract automation, and e-discovery. The European legal tech market is projected to reach €3.6 billion by 2025, driven by increased investment and regulatory reforms promoting digital innovation in legal services.

In Asia-Pacific, legal tech adoption is fuelled by rapid economic growth and digital transformation. Singapore, known for its pro-innovation policies, has emerged as a regional hub for legal tech startups and initiatives. Chinese legal tech companies are leveraging AI and blockchain technologies to address legal challenges and improve access to justice. Australia and Japan are also witnessing increased interest in legal tech solutions, particularly in areas like online dispute resolution and legal analytics.

In Latin America, legal tech adoption is on the rise, driven by a burgeoning startup ecosystem and evolving regulatory frameworks. Countries like Brazil and Mexico are investing in legal tech innovation to improve legal transparency, efficiency, and access. According to Thomson Reuters, as at 2023 there were between 200 and 250 legal tech initiatives across Latin America (outside of Brazil), of which 70% are located either in Mexico, Argentina, or Colombia.

However, despite these positive trends, legal tech adoption in Africa remains relatively nascent. Challenges such as limited access to technology infrastructure and regulatory constraints hinder widespread adoption of legal tech solutions. Nonetheless, initiatives like the ALT Network - African Law & Tech Association as well as the South African Legal Technology Network are working to promote collaboration and innovation within the region's legal tech community, paving the way for future growth and development.

Speaking of future growth and development, technologies such as generative AI including small language models, machine learning, and natural language processing will continue to reshape legal practice, opening up new possibilities to accelerate the delivery of everyday legal tasks.

And in terms of gen-AI, it seems that law firms (over in-house legal teams) are leading the adoption race thus far:

• In January 2023, Clifford Chance was first up adopting LUCY - a natural language generating tech developed by lawyers from the firm’s Innovation & Best Delivery teams. Using this tech, the firm has automated parts of their corporate-law transaction, certain clauses in Excel sheets etc.

• In February 2023, Allen & Overy announced its partnership with Harvey AI tool “Harvey”, uses ChatGPT technology to assist with producing and automating legal work.

• In September 2023, Macfarlanes announced its rollout of Harvey AI.

• In December 2023, Dentons launched, on a limited basis, a proprietary version of ChatGPT called fleetAI.

• In April 2024, Ashurst announced it had completed a month-long AI experiment across its global offices. Over 400+ lawyers used gen-AI to complete everyday legal tasks, resulting in positive results - specifically, time savings were huge: 80% on reviewing articles of association, 60% on company research reports, and 45% on creating client briefs.

• Australian based Lander & Rogers, like Minter Ellison, has adopted Microsoft Copilot to assist lawyers with tasks including contract drafting and review, legal research, legal reasoning, data extraction and analysis, and more generic use cases like emails and meeting summaries.

Looking ahead, the future of legal tech promises further consolidation, disruption and innovation on a global scale.

Collaboration between legal professionals, legal tech providers, linguists, regulators, and policymakers will be crucial to harnessing the full potential of legal tech while addressing associated challenges. As will prioritising and embracing a culture of innovation and continuous improvement to ensure lawyers possess a tech first mindset, and their skills evolve with the times.

Anna Lozynski is an executive general counsel and author turned change agent, advisor & influencer. She believes that legal innovation is invigorating, change is energising and efficiency will never go out of fashion. Anna has studied law in Melbourne, Beijing, Utrecht and Boston. Starting out at a major Australian law firm, she has spent the majority of her legal career in-house working in the banking, automotive and cosmetics industries, before starting her own business, Anna Lozynski Advisory. Described as a transformer, Anna is a sought-after commentator, speaker & brand ambassador both domestically and internationally – seeking to shift the dialogue in order to propel the corporate world forward and create lasting change.

21 May 2024



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