Rita Al Semaani Jansen Partner
As hard as it may be to believe, I have been one of the lucky few to have been practicing law in Dubai since 1992. It is fascinating to see how the vision of Dubai has come to realisation and how the legal industry has changed before my eyes. I want to use the space in the IQB to share my experience of living, working, running a business and acting as a trusted advisor to clients in Dubai. I hope that my experience will prove useful to you in your professional capacity or even on a personal level. In this article I want to highlight the way information technology is changing the services that we provide as lawyers.
The professional industry has evolved due to the information technology advancement which has changed the way we worked and will continue to change the services that we provide.
In the nineties and early noughties information was hardly publicly available. Doctors and lawyers, the two "confident" types of professionals that people tend to come to when something goes wrong. Well, this is changing. This month, The Economist run a cover article headed “Welcome to Doctor You.” The article addressed the technological revolution in healthcare and how access to data can give patients knowledge and control over their own health.
The same is happening in the legal services industry. The clients nowadays, even if they are not lawyers, have access to online data and information that enables them to make informed commercial decisions without necessarily having to rely on external legal advice. Of course many of the clients that I work with have excellent in-house lawyers and teams, but even those who do not have them, are now able to search online for answers to generic legal queries or even to find a basic commercial precedent without having to ask a lawyer.
For lawyers, it means that clients come to us in situations which are more complex than in the past and mostly when they require specialist advice. It is well accepted by now that lawyers have to offer more than legal advice, but also proactive commercial solution to business issues faced by clients. The law firms are well placed to do so because they would have seen similar issues faced by other clients and may have a ready-made or a creative solution for the cases at hand. Another crucial consideration for clients when hiring a law firm is that it has expertise in the jurisdiction and in the client’s industry so that the advice provided is as commercial as it is legal.
Technology also means that some of the tasks that were previously done by lawyers are commoditized, can be performed at low cost by commercial teams with the use of specialist programs or by alternative service providers. I am a great believer that artificial intelligence technologies will take over a lot of work that is carried out by lawyers. In fact, going through a data room filled with physical files for days is replaced by online virtual rooms where documents are uploaded and can be reviewed from one's desk. There are legal analytical tools in place for example that process data from various litigation resources and that are able to make outcome predictions for a dispute depending on the inputted legal strategy. Whilst the human element is unlikely to be entirely replaced, the technological advances together with the artificial intelligence do keep us lawyers on our toes and force us to re think our strategies to accommodate these new challenges.
With all the technological advancement that Dubai, the UAE and the world have witnessed, our clients are more sophisticated than ever. From where I stand, this only makes my work more interesting.
Please feel free to email me if you have any comments, views or suggestions based on my article above.