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Digital transformation: the key to facing future challenges in the legal sector

Jorge Badía (Cuatrecasas): “It is necessary to adapt culturally to the technological revolution in order to improve our customer service”

The legal sector is experiencing a moment of continuous evolution and transformation in which many paradigms have shifted, as has the profile of the lawyer. Now, in addition to possessing excellent technical knowledge, lawyers must also incorporate management and business development into the profession. Eugenia Navarro, Lecturer of Strategy and Legal Marketing at ESADE Law School, discussed the current situation at a forum entitled “What Will Legal Practice Be Like in the Future?”, organised by ESADE in collaboration with the Wolters Kluwer Foundation. “The way in which services are provided in the legal sector and the legal model itself have changed, due to the emergence of new technologies and the information society and also new needs on the part of clients,” she commented.

Ms. Navarro stressed that law firms need to find ways to provide differential value. According to a recent study by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), value is defined as efficiency in cost, efficacy in resource allocation, and predictability, with the assumption of technical capacity. “The search for effectiveness has placed great importance on technology, with the aim of improving processes and customer service,” commented Ms. Navarro. “This search for effectiveness has also generated new professions, such as that of legal project managers – who implement a work methodology that more effectively manages knowledge already possessed by the organisation – and legal process engineers.”

Inclusion of technology in the legal sector

Luis de Carlos, Managing Partner at Uría Menéndez, commented: “At Uría, we have designed a strategic systems plan based on mobility, connectivity, computer security and artificial intelligence, which we intend to use to respond to digital challenges.” Fernando Vives, Executive Chairman and Managing Partner at Garrigues, observed: “Technology only works if it makes us more efficient and, in turn, allows us to become more competitive and provide better services to our clients.” According to Jorge Badía, Managing Partner at Cuatrecasas, “Technology has been democratised. To combat stagnation, progress needs to be made in the usability of technology. If that happens, we will be able to improve the experience of our lawyers and compete in talent management.”

Digital transformation of lawyers

Mr. Badía argued that “it is necessary to adapt culturally to the technological revolution”. He added, however, that “we must be aware that technological advancement is going to move at a much faster pace than our ability to learn”. Mr. Vives commented: “At Garrigues we have developed a think tank dedicated to the process of digital transformation. Our hope is that the lawyers who make up this working group will be the ones to transmit technology within the organisation.” Conveying a clear commitment to innovation and development in his law firm, Mr. Vives added: “Faced with traditional attitudes and work dynamics in the sector, we must try to adapt to the new digital scenario.”

Mr. Vives also discussed his efforts to prevent employees from losing their digital skills by growing accustomed to the work methods of a traditional law firm. “I’m satisfied if we can avoid transforming digital lawyers into analog lawyers,” he concluded.

“Technology enables us to be permanently connected,” Mr. de Carlos observed. “Successful lawyers must have language skills and be good at managing their team and their clients. In short, they must work for their firm and their partners.” He added: “In the future, I see my office becoming more international, more digital and more diverse.”

The forum also featured the participation of Enrique Verdeguer, Director of ESADE Madrid, and José María Michavila, President of the Advisory Board at Wolters Kluwer.