State of the art in IT of small law firms in the EU (2020)

{ dr. Homoki Péter / 2021.06.25 }

The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe CCBE) and the European Lawyers Foundation published a study on the overview of the average state of the art of IT capabilities of small law firms in the EU. This study, written by Péter Homoki, provides a comparison within the EU and a gap analysis of these results with US, UK and Canada best practices. Based on a survey of 10 EU countries (including Hungary), the study attempts to provide a picture of the typical tasks performed by small law firms in each country and the IT support available for such activities, from practice management software to the use of various AI-enabled tools and cloud services. The paper seeks to provide a statistical-economic context to show why the role of small law firms is important and fundamental to the legal services industry as a whole, and to illustrate the important differences in economic concentration and overall weight of small firms between the UK, the US and EU Member States. Based on the intra-EU comparison, the technical differences between law firms were examined using in-depth interviews and desktop research of literature. The latter primarily consisted of comparing the intra-EU results with that of the American Bar Association’s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report and the content of Nelson, Sharon D., John W. Simek, and Michael C. Maschke’s 2020 Solo and Small Law Firm Legal Technology Guide. At the time the study was conducted, differences in terms of technology readiness between the US and the European Union were not striking (at least taking into account the differences already present within the European Union). However, there is no doubt that the vibrant IT market in the US and England makes it likely that this gap will widen. Small lawyers in the EU are at a significant disadvantage in this area, considering that the legal IT market is fragmented across Member States, with less fuel for development and competition. Unfortunately, the possibility of products trickling-down from large law firms to small law firms at affordable prices is also smaller.

The study completed the first phase of AI4Lawyers project which is funded by the European Union. The second phase of the AI4Lawyers project is about technical barriers and opportunities of lawyers in terms of AI and NLP tools, written by Pál Vadász PhD. The subject matter of the third, ongoing phase is a guide on how small law firms may use artificial intelligence and national language processing tools in their everyday practice. The third phase is expected to be completed by 31 March 2022.

You can find a longer summary on this subject in Hungarian at the following links: Blog első rész

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