The Emergence of Legal Technology and the Importance of Transitioning Online

by Mac Duguiang Jr. · March 14, 2021

Legal Tech is defined as the technology used by legal practitioners to facilitate their processes and improve their effectiveness. It aims to simplify operations, optimize workflows, and improve the management of knowledge and information among practitioners and clients. In fine, legal tech is the digital transformation of legal services. In recent times, legal technology has been rapidly emerging throughout the globe, owing to increasing investments in new technology. This is most evident in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the US, where the legal landscapes have already made the seamless transition online.  In the ASEAN Region, legal tech is also fast evolving. Currently, there are 89 legal tech firms in the region; with Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia being the biggest contributors.

As opposed to its neighboring countries, the adoption of legal technology in the Philippines is rather gradual. The Philippine Legal Tech market is still in its infancy and is just starting to establish its roots. It is far left behind by other technologically driven segments in the country like e-commerce and finance. People will go online for almost every service they avail; but for legal services, this is not the case. 

The reason for the slow digital transition is the deeply ingrained traditional means of conducting legal services in the country—the lawyer office setting. Clients want lawyers who they can personally meet and talk to. Legal assistance is still seen as an extraordinary recourse for most people, hence, they want tangibility in availing these services. Similarly, lawyers put premium on their services and are meticulous in their delivery. This creates additional inertia to the digital transition given the uncertainties of foregoing tried and tested means for something new. 

Over the years, we have been seeing changes in the behavior of clients. Requests are becoming more urgent and the clients are becoming more demanding due to the growing volume of legal needs. Ironically, at the same time, most Filipinos are still not reached by the legal profession. In the Philippines, 80% of legal problems are not being legally addressed. This is owing to the problems of inaccessibility, disinformation, and low perceived value of legal services in the country. A lot of people are still not fully aware of the significance and importance of seeking legal help. They think that approaching lawyers is the last recourse. 

For these reasons, the transition to digital space is really important. Recently, even in its infancy, we have seen how legal technology addresses the aforementioned issues. Now, clients can search for lawyers online who are within their location or who specialize in their legal needs. Clients are also able to better access information about the different legal services that are available to them. 

These recent developments in the country’s legal tech segment are really promising. These advancements, no matter how gradual, make significant changes in the legal landscape of the country. With these feats, we can slowly change the perception that legal help is only for problems that are big. At the same time, the legal profession can better reach those who are in need of legal help.  

The future of legal services is exhilarating! As the world embraces modernity and innovation, it’s high time that the legal landscape should also welcome the idea of transitioning to digital.

About the Author

Mac is a sophomore law student at the University of the Philippines College of Law. He took up BS Business Administration at University of the Philippines DIiliman and graduated cum laude. Currently, he is the Chief Growth Officer and a co-founder of ALex Legal Solutions. Mac is also inclined in various forms of arts. He learned digital arts through self-education to expand his opportunities in the field of advertising. Aside from his role, he also directs the marketing direction and creates the digital illustrations for ALex.

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