M&A lawyers are creating new roles and changing the law firm design with technology: research lead
The global pandemic and the increasing reliance on technology to facilitate remote legal work and collaboration have accelerated the legal profession's interest in technology-based solutions. A recent survey by Litera, a legal tech company, revealed that technology significantly impacts M&A practices in law firms.
Litera's survey included insights from over 200 lawyers whose practices focus on M&A in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
David Curle, legal content and research lead at Litera, says the legal profession is fragmented, and Litera sought to receive responses about technology use, adoption, and spending from M&A lawyers specifically.
He says the survey covers the technologies law firms use, their technology investment plans, the staffing and talent retention implications of adopting technology and their view of the future of technology in M&A practice, particularly regarding the impact of machine learning.
"Many questions from our customers are lawyers who want to know if they are behind or ahead in adopting technology, and we hope this study will help answer those questions."
While other analyses show that lawyers are slow to adopt technology, he says the study found that M&A groups are adopting much technology, which confirms that they are more advanced than other practice groups.
"We asked them about 12 different technology categories that M&A lawyers are likely to use, and at least 50 percent of the respondents used half of them."
An acquisition involves organizing, reviewing, negotiating a deal agreement and due diligence when evaluating the acquired company to ensure it is a good investment with no risks involved. Curle says technology is used at all stages of the deal workflow, indicating that M&A lawyers are very open to technology and are starting to use it more often.
He says the report found that 91 percent of M&A teams are using technology as a differentiator and competitive advantage, meaning that M&A teams recognize that technology enables more client-centric service delivery.
The survey also showed that artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly beneficial to lawyers for reviewing large volumes of contracts. Curle says some respondents in the study believe AI is "here to stay" and will become a standard for M&A transactions.
"You can use the computer to look through 1000s of contracts for specific types of clauses that might present risks to the deal."
Over 90 percent of M&A lawyers in the study expect artificial intelligence to be prevalent in their future work and be universal in five years.
"That's more positive towards AI than I've seen in other research studies, and it's because this particular group of lawyers deal with large volumes of data, so artificial intelligence is a good fit for this type of work," Curle says.
The study found that the surveyed law firms invested in non-legal professional roles that used technology, including product managers, pricing managers, data analysts, and project managers.
Curle says the use of technology by M&A lawyers is creating new roles and changing the structure of a law firm because they need additional skills to use more technology effectively.
The study allows law firms to compare themselves against the rest of the industry, and Curle hopes that M&A lawyers evaluate whether they adopt technology to the same extent as their peers.
He says Litera is hosting a webinar on May 18 to discuss the survey.