Presented by DocNinja

Are law firms on the verge of going Kodak?

 ·29 Jul 2022

Law firms continue to lose work due to other innovative non-traditional legal service providers entering the market.

This is according to Martin Kotze, a commercial and corporate attorney and the Managing Director of leading tech and innovation company DocNinja.

Although Kotze believes that law firms will not experience a complete Kodak situation, he said they should still reflect on how Kodak became obsolete and take it as an important lesson.

Kodak is a technology company that dominated the photographic film market during most of the 20th century.

Kotze explained that Kodak blew its chance to lead the digital photography revolution as they were in denial about digital photography technology.

He highlights that Steve Sasson, a Kodak engineer, actually invented the first digital camera back in 1975.

“But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘that’s cute—but don’t tell anyone about it,” said Sasson.

The leaders of Kodak failed to see digital photography as a disruptive technology, and therefore lost their strong position in the market.

Practice areas under threat

Kotze used the example of commercial transactional work and contracts to explain how this insight can translate into the legal industry.

Contracts and the terms negotiated within them are becoming more standardised, more user-friendly and accessible, and businesses no longer want to pay high hourly rates for work that does not add value.

Examples of work that clients perceive to not add value include the time spent creating run-of-the-mill documentation and related attendances.

Due to the above, the role of a commercial lawyer is changing to one where they are only needed to give an impartial view, oversee the legal consequences, clarify that certain phrases are normal, or confirm that these phrases reflect the parties’ intentions.

The driving force behind change

Budget constraints, cost-cutting exercises, a need for increased efficiency, and common sense are all driving businesses to consider alternatives when it comes to run-of-the-mill commercial transactional services.

According to Kotze, businesses now look to accounting firms, audit firms, and alternative legal service providers to provide run-of-the-mill transactional services at fixed prices.

How law firms can compete

Kotze suggests that law firms must start innovating and automating various processes that clients do not perceive as value-adding, and a great place to begin is looking at how they create documents.

With document automation technology, law firms can create bespoke documents tailored to their client’s needs with a couple of clicks by completing guided and dynamic questionnaires.

Document automation technology has come a long way in the last couple of years, and as a result, current document and contract builders have evolved into powerful tools that can build complex transactional documents which contain hundreds of variables.

More about DocNinja

DocNinja is the market leader in building complex document creation frameworks.

It provides a fully managed solution that helps law firms create documents and contracts faster, more accurately, and at a lower cost so they can focus on providing more value to their clients.

Click here to learn more about DocNinja’s document automation technology.

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