Being ‘creatures of instruction’, the international legal fraternity was – pre-Covid – blissfully content to splash about in the shallow waters of its potential response to the fourth industrial revolution. A casual interest in LegalTech gimmicks, the setting up of 2.0 committees, and comments like “we should make an app,” had pockmarked law firm attitudes in the lead up to the 2020s, particularly in South Africa.
At the height of the global pandemic, it took a tsunami of challenges such as technological readiness, changes in client relationships, employee way-of-work demands, high-profile data breaches, a looming recession, an energy crisis, and political instability to spark an existential crisis in the legal industry. It came as no surprise then, that 60% of respondents in the 2021/22 Legal Tech Report said the pandemic “grossly impacted” their legal practice. – Koos Benadie, Director and Head of Commercial Law at Barnard