Who are the frontier lawyers? Automation specialists

Women on laptop in server room

In this article, we explore the automation landscape, the barriers and benefits of an automation specialist lawyer, and the future landscape for legal resourcing and specialised roles.

At Lander & Rogers our guidance spans numerous sectors, aiding clients through digital transformation projects, contract negotiations and regulatory obligations. Our expertise covers the rapid adoption of cloud services and cutting-edge technologies such as AI, facial recognition, crypto assets and NFTs.

Given the nature of our practice, we witness the revolutionary effects of technology across various industries. The legal sector is no exception. Historically, law is one of the most ancient professions, yet it must evolve into a frontier profession to adequately support the global sociotechnological shifts occurring today. With innovations like virtual reality, augmented reality, widespread gamification, and the metaverse, there arises a need for a new type of lawyer and technology-driven legal services.

Defining an automation specialist lawyer

An automation specialist lawyer is distinguished by two primary traits:

  1. They are seasoned, specialised attorneys with profound sector-specific knowledge.
  2. They employ this knowledge to automate legal documents, optimise processes, and develop workflows using automation tools.

These lawyers excel in understanding the context and logic behind variables in legal documents, legal mandates, and processes. This overlaps somewhat with creating a precedent library; both tasks involve applying logic to variable triggers. The distinction lies in the automation specialist’s coding skills, enabling broader and more sophisticated automation than is possible with standard word processing tools.

Understanding the automation landscape

Automation technology is increasingly accessible as no-code and low-code platforms evolve and proliferate within the legal sector. This doesn't imply that the technology is simplistic; there remains a substantial learning curve to master complex automation tasks. Thus, a genuine interest and aptitude in automation are crucial.

The allure of automation for lawyers stems from their inherent nature as problem-solvers, with technology offering novel complexities to unravel and simplify through tools like contract automation, AI document review, and legal workflow automation.

Challenges facing automation specialist lawyers

What barriers prevent the cultivation of future-ready lawyers? Many law firms still adhere to traditional time-based billing models, essential for maintaining cash flow, which hampers focus on non-billable, innovative work.

Moreover, lawyers often lack the time to acquire necessary skills while being acknowledged and rewarded for their expertise. Expertise in automation requires significant time and experience, leading to a classic chicken and egg dilemma: without the experience, one cannot perform specialised tasks, and without doing them, one cannot gain the experience. New revenue models enabling time and skill investment in innovative areas, akin to "law as a service", are crucial for developing automation specialist lawyers.

Encouraging investment in automation platforms and understanding their capabilities is a technological procurement task that demands thorough due diligence. A deep comprehension of clients and their businesses enhances effectiveness, allowing lawyers to identify common issues across clients and maximise returns from custom tech solutions.

Overcoming barriers

Lander & Rogers tackles these challenges through partnerships with legal education advocates and institutions. This collaborative approach fosters early development of automation expertise, with experience following suit. Our collaboration with law schools like Monash University, QUT and the University of Technology Sydney enables law students to engage with legal tech in real-world scenarios, aiding in the preparation of future-ready lawyers.

Benefits of automation specialist lawyers

The primary goal of fostering automation specialist lawyers is to enhance client service. Understanding a client’s needs and business operations allows automation lawyers to develop more advanced lawtech platforms together with the client, thereby strengthening the client-provider relationship.

As we advance in automation, creating spin-offs and reducing development overheads becomes feasible, allowing the repurposing of templates or blueprints. Although initial learning and development incur higher costs, these diminish as expertise solidifies, and subsequent projects can be executed much quicker than the initial developments.

The future of automation specialist lawyers

An automation specialist lawyer merges legal and automation expertise uniquely. This fusion allows them to instantly grasp a client’s legal challenges and apply their legal acumen to streamline and enhance business processes, from document automation to legal workflow automation. This proficiency not only speeds up the development process but also fortifies trust and strengthens client relationships.

The future of legal resourcing

The role of the legal technologist is becoming an enticing career path for recent law graduates or tech-savvy lawyers seeking novel challenges. Similar to business analysts, legal technologists bridge the gap between technology and business, in this case for law firms or legal tech providers. While it is a nascent role, it offers expansion opportunities into roles like product manager or customer success manager.

The future will see lawyers as indispensable assets to their clients in a digitally competitive global economy, distinguished not by their redundancy but by their integral roles as digital lawyers who can communicate, write, and code.

Key contacts

Rohan Dias

Partner, Construction and Contract Automation

Michelle Bey

Chief Innovation Officer & Transformation Lead

Joel Kennedy

Head of Client Projects

Sarah Marke

Sarah Marke

Marketing Manager iHub & LawTech Hub