Here are some great highlights of my interview on BE THAT LAWYER with legal superstar and tech master Geo Bellas! This edited transcript addresses technology advancements in the legal field and the impact of AI in the legal industry.
“The old way of practicing is going to fade out, and is fading out. We have to learn how to live in that world, make money in that world, and more importantly, serve our clients.” — Geo Bellas
Steve: What do you see going on right now with technology and how is that going to continue changing in the future?
Geo: Well, the changes we’ve been talking about technology have been coming at us like a tsunami for years and it’s only accelerating. Technology has been just advancing at all levels and the legal field has been slow to adapt to it. Lawyers in particular have been slow to adapt to technology, just for example. Right now, lawyers are having a hard time handling a zoom meeting. Lawyers are just not prepared for dealing with technology and it’s going to continue to advance and even a greater rate. So we can expect the changes because of technology accelerating now, because this pandemic is forcing lawyers into doing things that they previously have been uncomfortable with.
Steve: Are changes in technology going to impact the ability for lawyers to conduct business and continue to make the kind of revenue that they’ve made?
Geo: This is just my opinion but I think there is a large number of lawyers that are never going to survive this pandemic and the only way that lawyers are going to be able to survive is to accept the fact that the old way of practicing is going to fade out and is fading out. We’re going to have to learn how to do depositions remotely. I just did a mediation last week remotely. It was all done through Zoom or a variation of – that’s the kind of things that we could expect in the future. We have to learn how to live in that world and work in that world and make money in that world and more importantly, service our clients.
Steve: Are there suggestions that you would make to the attorneys that are struggling with technology or that are not maybe seeing the writing on the wall of what’s been going for the past few months?
Geo: Dive into learning about technology. I just got a demonstration of West Law’s new service, they will take your brief, run it through their AI and give you suggestions as to how to improve your brief. They will also analyze your brief and tell you if there’s holes in your brief or if you’ve missed any cases. They can take the opponent’s brief and check all the citations and see if they accurately referenced the cases and if there are any cases contrary to it, using an art form of artificial intelligence.
Ross has a variation, whereas he actually has a form of artificial intelligence that analyzes security agreements. And this has been going on for several years now. Morgan Stanley, a couple of years ago started running their security interests instruments through Ross to analyze and see if the terms of the security agreement conform with their requirements. It replaced 250,000 lawyer hours – and it put how many lawyers out of work. So, they’re using artificial intelligence to do routine mundane performances, document reviews are being done using technology. Technology is taking over a big portion of our practice and it’s being it’s been going on. It’s going to be even faster now.
Steve: For those going solo, how are they going to manage to get their numbers up?
Geo: Number one, embrace technology. Find ways to do things in different ways. Think out of the box. You have to start thinking out of the box. You can’t just say I’m going to do a will when people could go online and get a will done very simply and cheaply if they have the wherewithal to do it themselves or are brave enough to do it themselves. Same with forming corporations and LLC’s.
If lawyers can find a way, just like any other business, to make money while they’re sleeping, they will survive. But if they if they don’t understand how they could use technology to their advantage, they’re not going to survive. We have to understand that that’s the world we practice now.
Steve: Is there some advice that you would give to lawyers regarding technology and business development and its importance in the future of law?
Geo: I think we as lawyers have to remember why people come to us and keep that in mind before we even start thinking about embracing technology or what to do. The qualities that we offer are number one, trust. People have to trust us because they give us all kinds of confidential information. They also come to us for counseling that is not just about their particular legal issues. Once we recognize that those are the foundations of a successful practice, then we have to find ways that we can use technology to advance those qualities that people are looking for.
I think that the most successful, innovative lawyers today are going to have to be using three interconnected forces. We’re going to be facing more sophisticated clients, armed with a lot of information and a lot of market power that will rein in and minimize the cost of legal services. We’re facing a global economy, and that increases the complexity of what we do and also has more competition because we’re going to be getting competition from foreign entities that come in here to offer legal services. And then we have to understand that information technology is automated and it’s going to replace many of the billable functions we’ve been doing as lawyers and we are. And that dovetails into another thing – we’re going to have to find more creative ways about how to charge clients because the hourly rate is dying.
You can listen to the whole interview HERE.
To learn more about Geo Bellas, please visit his website.