New Law and No Code Legal Technology

While the legal sector has a notorious reputation for being slow to adapt to change, the growing New Law movement has threatened the traditional partner structure and the billable hour to provide more legal services more flexibly, quickly, and cheaply. 
new law no code legal technology
Chris Spillman Biztech Lawyers

Many firms and in-house teams have scrambled to adapt and to adopt new technologies to maintain their relevance and competitiveness in the market. Biztech Lawyers is proud to say it has been staying on top of tech innovation since inception, and was a finalist for LawyersWeekly’s New Law Firm of the Year 2021.

One of those technologies that has been making a steady rise to prominence is that of no-code or low-code application development platforms. Multiple start-ups including Josef, Checkbox.ai, BRYTER and Neota Logic have similar offerings, each packaging themselves to target different areas of the legal market. 

In Australia, Josef has aimed its services at empowering lawyers in Big Law to create and add value to their clients. Checkbox.ai, has focused on implementation of its platform through in-house legal teams. PwC Legal in the European branches has started training their lawyers in BRYTER, while Neota Logic which has been around for a decade has partnered with law schools to train students in the use of their platform. 

While no-code development platforms have existed for years, only recently has their value been recognised for automating legal processes to increase operational efficiency by allowing lawyers to create applications which increase scalability in the delivery of common lower value repetitive legal advice, and workflows which streamline the communications between both internal and external stakeholders. 

There is even potential in using such applications for lead generation, providing firms with a new channel or method of attracting clients. 

Scalability: a tool for access to justice

Beyond the for-profit law firms, the scalability of applications is an opportunity for Human Rights For All, Legal Aid and community legal centres to scale their already stretched resources and even offer self-represented litigants a better self-service and accessible user experience when accessing the courts. 

While legal centres may not have the resources themselves to build the applications, there is an opportunity for volunteer law students to assist. Some law schools have already begun exposing their students to no-code development platforms through partnerships with some of the developers. 

For self-represented litigants, such tools have the potential to translate complex civil procedures into a series of steps which can be easily followed and understood. Not only does this make justice more accessible but is also likely to help increase the efficiency in the proceedings by decreasing the burden on opposing side’s lawyers to assist. Perhaps there is potential for such an application could even provide ‘hurdles’ to entry or checks in relation to vexatious litigants who litigate the way they do simply because they lack understanding of the procedures. 

In the United States, where the no-code tools have been longer established, assisting self-represented litigants is already an established use case. 

New Law Current impact

At this point, the implementation of no-code application development platforms is still in the early days. Lawyers and other professionals are still in the process of learning to use it. It may be some time before we see more complex decision trees and computational logic at work widely, which might not only require hours of building, but some trial and error and the gradual input of multiple lawyers and developers over time. Indeed, this is how software developers build more complex applications – not from scratch, but from the inspiration of others shared on open source platforms like Github. As such, the impact that has been made is rather compartmentalised  with little incentive and lack of a real platform to share no-code tools already built. 

Limitations

A lack of incentive

Learning how to use the application development platform itself, while intuitive, can already be time consuming for time-strapped lawyers. Smaller firms without the resources and divisions of labour found in larger firms are unlikely able to accommodate the time taken to build and experiment with application development in the same way larger firms are. 

Moreover, from the perspective of no-code development platforms as a product, the one’s  to immediately benefit are not the lawyers themselves, but their clients. This step of removal away from the immediate consumer of the product makes for a lesser incentive for law firms to prioritise the development and implementation of such applications (especially client-facing tools) without stronger external pressure from their clients and competition. 

In an interview with Legal Arcade, the CEO of Checkbox.ai Evan Wong indicated that the growth of the no-code ecosystem might be best driven by in-house legal teams which do not have the same competitive mindsets of law firms. Wong mentioned that in-house legal teams were sharing the tools amongst themselves which could one day organically grow into a marketplace for tools to be bought and sold. Allowing lawyers to monetise their tools not only creates incentive to build, but also to share and distribute them to enable other lawyers to capitalise and implement them creating real potential for the much-needed technological disruption in the legal sector. 

Data collection, privacy, debugging, optimisation

Even giants like Facebook get privacy and data collection wrong. It’s hard to envision no-code built by lawyers that ensures the protection of personal identifiable information.  While software companies offering the no-code products may be certain of the code behind the logical building blocks that lawyers see, the concern is that once the application is built, lawyers cannot check the security of their application as a while if they choose to collect, store and use the data collected from clients or other external users.  

And if the application is one that is complex, debugging and optimising the code behind the application is just not an option for the lawyers. However, these problems are not unsolvable through further testing. The other option is to just limit the use of no-code to certain use cases.

Ultimately, there is real potential in the use of  no-code legal tools to improve the delivery of legal services. However, the value for the no-code application development platforms is not so much the no-code itself, but rather the applications which they can create. So, until an ecosystem of sharing and building applications emerges from these platforms, their effectiveness will likely remain compartmentalised and unable to disrupt the way we deliver legal services in the legal industry.  

Book a Free
Legal Strategy Session

Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Chris Spillman Biztech Lawyers
Chris Spillman
Managing Director - Americas
Chris holds an indisputable reputation as a key and trusted advisor in the areas of corporate law and commercial transactions, having started out with Kirkland & Ellis. He later became general counsel for NYC fintech Quadpay before, during and after major cross-border acquisition and was responsible for all operational, partnerships, financing, contracts, and compliance work.

Through Spillman & Partners, he helped buy and sell multiple US tech companies, finance global growth through debt, equity and hybrid offerings, negotiate global tech agreements and commercial contracts with national and global e-commerce retailers and consumer brands.

Chris is Biztech Lawyers’ Managing Director for the Americas. As a tech-centric law firm we use an array of legal technology to make legal processes more efficient, allowing clients to grow as painlessly as possible. Our global offerings are also an opportunity to propel the world’s most innovative companies to reach international markets. We’re your growth partners.
While Biztech Lawyers has used reasonable care and skill in compiling the content of this article. we make no warranty as to its accuracy or completeness. This article is only intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and not intended to be specific to the reader’s circumstances. This article is not intended to be comprehensive, and it does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice and does not create a client-solicitor relationship between any user or reader and Biztech Lawyers. We accept no responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in the article. You should undertake your own research and to seek professional advice before making any decisions or relying on the information provided.