Andrew Mellett was determined to rip up the rule book when he started his law firm Plexus, as much to offer work-life balance to his staff as to provide reasonably priced legal services to consumers.
“All legal tasks follow the same pattern,” he observes. “A client has a problem, the lawyer collects facts about that problem, applies those facts to the law and generates an outcome, such as contract. Through clever technology, Plexus collects those facts using a smart digital form and uses a variant of artificial intelligence to apply those facts to the law in order to generate the outcome automatically. For example, Plexus’s Promotions Wizard app automates the creation of terms and conditions, as well as permits, for organisations wanting to run a competition at a third of the cost of and 95 per cent faster than the traditional method.”
While Fan, Richards and Mellett readily admit there will continue to be a market for what traditional law firms offer, and that humans still have the edge over machines on the more complicated or cutting-edge legal tasks, all believe the industry is on the cusp of a shake up that will benefit all parties on balance.
“Are accountants nostalgic for the days when they had to write everything by hand into ledgers?” asks Mellett. “And are there any fewer of them around than there used to be? Technology can facilitate lower costs and better service while delivering satisfying, well-remunerated careers to lawyers.”