What does the future hold for legal tech?

Industry veteran reveals his big predictions

The ever-growing sector of legal tech is spearheading constant change in the industry. We caught up with Tony Wickstead (General Manager of Transformation and Delivery, Fonterra) to get his top primers on how to handle the future of law.


What changes you can see happening over the next 5 years in legal tech?

  • Consolidation of major providers, as smaller entrants scale (or do not scale) and more established providers gain even more market share.  We have seen this in the area of accounting / financial services software for law firms.  Areas where this can be expected are legal operations software, document generation, e-discovery, lifecycle contract management systems.
  • The application of Software-as-a-Service applications from major technology providers to legal problems.  An example today is the use of G-Suite apps (Google), or Jira / Confluence (from Atlassian).  These solutions do not require developers.
  • A little bit, and then increasing amounts, of Machine Learning (then true Artificial Intelligence) to everything.

What’s holding back law firms from innovating?

  • No ‘burning platform’ for established law firms that creates an urgency for change.
  • A culture of one-to-one care and counselling.  An inhibition to hire (or become) people who are innovative, with a healthy appetite for risk and change.
  • Leadership that can create a powerful vision of a dynamically evolving organisation, and then find and lead others on that journey.
  • The partnership model.
  • Lack of experience or inclination to truly collaborate with external organisations (including clients and competitors)

What advice would you give to law firms starting out their transformation journey?

  • Start small, start now.
  • Create one or two multi-disciplinary teams that are modelled roughly on Agile / Scrum principles and are given the support to carry on.  This is to undertake small projects to address real firm or client needs, and that are aimed at ‘shipping’ or creating ‘deliverables’ in ‘time-boxed’ intervals (e.g., Scrum principles) that enable visible progress to be achieved in small chunks.
  • Use tools that are accessible and to hand, such as Microsoft Teams and the 0365 suite of products, or Google G-Suite applications.
  • If you must, create an ‘innovation leader’, however avoid at all costs any ‘talking / meeting / organising about’.  Rather find the most junior lawyers (new entrants) and pair them together with more senior lawyers, a partner, a person from IT, a Legal Executive, Knowledge Management.
  • Be clear about the roles involved in your innovation activities.

Tony will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Legal Tech Auckland event on June 19. For more information and to book tickets, see legaltechsummitnz.com/register-now.