UK Law Gazette Article: The Legal Engineer

Want to know more about what being a legal engineer is all about?

This article is as good as any place to start..

Here’s the introduction to the piece..

Legal engineering’ is fast becoming a prized, and indeed critical, role at the interface between law and technology. It makes legal processes quicker, more efficient and accurate at a fraction of the time, cost and manpower previously required. To many, the idea of a ‘legal engineer’ is still unfamiliar, but the past few weeks of Covid-19 turmoil have shown how quickly the world can change. Only those firms with agile technology capabilities are likely to mitigate the impact of the virus in the coming months.

‘Legal engineers are similar to what other industries would call “solutions architects”,’ explains Stephen Allen, head of global innovation and digital at Hogan Lovells. ‘They are people who advise on, develop and create solutions, and are essential in keeping firms ahead of the curve.’

In recent weeks legal engineers have been using the platforms that Hogan Lovells built to review force majeure clauses in contracts that could be triggered by the global Covid-19 shutdown. Firms that have not developed such technology in recent years are at a clear disadvantage when multiple clients demand immediate support in such a fast-changing environment.

The burgeoning of what are essentially tech startups within (or affiliated to) law firms, and the scrutiny and self-evaluation that they prompt, show what law firms have learned from competing industries. ‘Law firms have to provide a style of professional service to clients that goes beyond the law,’ says Dan Wright of Osborne Clarke Solutions, the tech arm of Osborne Clarke. ‘The Big Four realised the value of such inputs 20 years ago.’

Developments such as the smart contract – an automated tool that applies templates to new data entries before they are uploaded – used (among other functions) to enable blockchain in the supply chain, demonstrate the kind of technical agility that clients now expect.

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