Raising the bar

The legal profession’s modernisation and adoption of new technology is helping lawyers and clients alike


MAY 2022 Industry Perspectives / Text by Alexandra Ziminski

Over the past few years, businesses across many industries have accelerated modernisation, digitalisation, and the use of AI as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes the legal sector, which is increasingly embracing automation, flexible communications with clients, and inclusive strategies to attract employees. These solutions are benefitting both lawyers and clients.

The latest in legal tech
By taking advantage of the latest online tools, many law firms such as Atsumi & Sakai have been able to improve workflow.

“Our new cloud file sharing tool, which is fully secure and compliant with data protection laws, allows us to easily transfer, access, share, and back up files and data, maximising efficiency and making our collaboration processes seamless,” says Ryuichi Nozaki, partner. “We have also introduced AI legal systems to save time and reduce legal costs.”

Matsuda & Partners is using innovative software to better stay on top of communications and negotiations.
“We are experimenting with a new legal tech system called Hubble, which allows users to track revisions and manage versions of Word files exchanged with clients or counterparties,” explains Tatsuhiro Kubo, partner. “This has reduced attorneys’ time spent locating the latest version of negotiating documents and to minimise the risk of misidentifying files.”

Chuo Sogo Law Office P.C. finds that using advanced technology improves their customer service.
“We actively introduce new technologies to our practice to provide appropriate, timely, cost-effective, and practical advice to our clients,” says Koji Kanazawa, partner and attorney at law. “For example, we have employed legal tech software for research and document preparation, which are essential for our services. We also use AI tools to review contracts and translate legal documents. These new technologies save us time and bring added value to our clients.”

Remote legal services
The pandemic pushed many companies to adopt remote technology. This helped to speed up business processes and fast-tracked internal communications.

Matsuda & Partners is one law firm that is relying more on digital solutions. The firm’s lawyers now use an electronic database to manage legal research from anywhere they choose.

“Last year, we subscribed to some new online research tools such as LION BOLT, which allows us to digitally search through a wide range of legal publications, and Legalscape, which has a particular focus on corporate law publications,” says Yoshinobu Mizutani, partner. “These tools not only enable our attorneys to conduct research remotely, but they also made our legal research more efficient than before.”

The use of the web to relay time-sensitive information has dramatically improved Chuo Sogo Law Office’s services.
“Due to Covid-19, much of our internal communication has been conducted electronically,” says Kanazawa. “This has enabled us to make swift decisions and provide flexible working styles. These positive changes have resulted in further resources available for our clients and, as a result, the quality of our legal services has also improved significantly.”

Equal opportunities
Legal firms are not only looking to technology to improve their workplaces. They are actively working to become more diverse and are using incentives to hook skilled candidates.

By developing a culture that emphasises diversity, Herbert Smith Freehills GJBJ aims to create the best possible work environment for all of its employees.

“We have a variety of firm-wide committee groups to foster and promote D&I values across our network,” says Naoko Adachi, associate. “In Asia, we actively engage in discussions on multiculturalism, gender equality, and LGBTQ issues to encourage employees to become allies and cultivate a respectful and inclusive workplace.”

Joseph Fisher, partner at Herbert Smith Freehills GJBJ, highlights the importance of being an attractive employer.
“We place an emphasis on caring for our people,” he says. “This is reflected in our compelling benefits package, which supports our employees throughout their journey with the firm. The package includes a market-leading, inclusive, and gender-neutral 24-week paid parental leave policy that launched in 2019, available to all employees.”
By prioritising diversity, Atsumi & Sakai made history.

“We are committed to creating an international workplace where diverse talent can make the most of their skills and abilities,” says Nozaki. “In 2005, Atsumi & Sakai became the first Japanese domestic law firm to invite non-Japanese attorneys to join as partners. In addition, our firm promotes the involvement of female attorneys — 25% of our lawyers and over 20% of our partners are women.”

With improved technology, D&I, and communications, the legal sector is seeing positive outcomes across the board.