Episode 8 – Guest Post – The future of legal tech and the role of artificial intelligence: an opportunity to seize or a collective blunder? (written by Tommaso Grotto, Kopjra Ceo and Co-Founder)

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What does the future hold for the legal tech sector?

It is a question that many are asking themselves, and to which, since as far back as 2015, we at Legal Tech Italy have also been trying to provide an answer that, although not univocal, at least attempts to shed light on a sector whose potential still seems to be largely untapped.

The only certainties are those provided by the available data: a tiny niche of truly disruptive innovations, economically driven by an even tinier niche of dominant realities. But the growth is there, registering an upward trajectory and translating in practice into a post-pandemic boom of promising technology solutions. With a wary yet optimistic eye, one can also detect a slow but gradual dilution of the market and the featured solutions, accompanied by a cautious yet intriguing entry of new players into the field. This openness of the market makes us lean toward the glass half-full, but we are still a long way from an earthquake that could shake the spirits and impose a real revolution, even in the way the profession is conceived.

But what, specifically, are practitioners talking about?

There has long been a need for a breath of fresh air: streamlining processes, reducing timelines, and delegating low-value-added activities. Above all, there is a willingness to engage in the “virtuous” part of the profession. Lawyers justifiably want to practice law, and the introduction of artificial intelligence into our lives—both personal and professional—may provide the perfect opportunity to do so. In this technology, which has monopolized the debate and on which the most significant developments seem to be occurring, many see both an opportunity and a warning sign. Indeed, the ubiquity and versatility of the tool allow practitioners to question themselves on multiple fronts. How can one integrate artificial intelligence within their organization? How can one frame its use from a legal perspective? And what about the consequences that such a tool can have on operations, but also on creativity and on the very perception of what is real and what is not, from the simple audiovisual product of common fruition to the use of generative tools in court (consider the role ChatGPT played in the disastrous Avianca case)? These are legitimate questions, the answers to which are by no means straightforward, but they should be seen as an opportunity to ignite debate in a profession that, like the subject matter it deals with, should be constantly evolving, though it often shows reluctance to embrace renewal.

From the perspective of professionals witnessing this change, two distinct and opposing fronts seem to be emerging. A segment argues that artificial intelligence will come to replace the figure of the lawyer, if not in its entirety, at least for a good portion. In this regard, it is worth remembering that apocalyptic scenarios prophesying a world in which the machine has taken the place of man are brought up every time a change—any change—is imposed that can substantially alter people’s daily lives. But there is also another side, that of those who are skeptical and have a variety of concerns, also in light of the current state of the art of the technology.

Both sides offer interesting points of conversation, not only because they fuel a discussion that needs to address doubts and critical issues in order to be truly effective, but more importantly because these responses can be read as a symptom that hides fundamental concerns. One side signals a fear, as predictable as ever in such a conservative profession, of embracing change and questioning the boundaries of a profession whose contours are traditionally perceived as well-established by those who practice it. On the other hand, the other side, decidedly more cautious in its assessments, risks degenerating into a reluctant attitude to introduce an instrument into practice that could actually improve it, thus distancing itself out of sheer distrust. But the issues raised on both sides of the table are all legitimate, and the matter is too complex to unravel in these few lines.

The truth, as is often the case, may lie somewhere in between. We shall see: the game is still to be played.