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Northern legaltech trailblazer calls for profession to embrace the power of technology

A Northern legal tech trailblazer is urging law firms to break free from the constraints of the profession’s paper-based past and usher in a new era of innovation.

Melanie Cope Machial, head of technology and marketing at Manchester-HQd Barings Law has urged the legal sector to wholeheartedly embrace a digital future and ditch outdated processes, including taking to the stage in front of 800 legal professionals at London’s recent Zoholics event, where she outlined how Barings Law has harnessed the power of cloud-based software, Zoho One, to dramatically streamline operations.

Cope Machial said: “One thing that I’ve come to realise is that a lot of law firms are stuck in the past. They’ve been doing something in a particular way for many years and are probably a bit scared of change.

“It’s rather unsettling to consider that many still rely on paper-based procedures and only invest in on-premise infrastructure. In the event of a catastrophe leading to the loss or damage of client records, the consequences would be a devastating and irreparable loss for both the firm and the clients seeking justice.

“At Barings Law, we’ve witnessed significant enhancements in case processing, resulting in increased client satisfaction scores. We’re also no longer reliant solely on conventional communication methods with our clients, enabling seamless transmission of critical updates and interactions through our website. Technology has unquestionably played a pivotal role in this transformation.

“It’s been nice seeing the lightbulb moments with staff too who’ve all actively embraced the change.”

Cope Machial has also urged legal firms to embrace AI, highlighting the tech’s ability to liberate legal staff from arduous administrative tasks and affording them more time for substantive legal work. Barings has integrated AI alongside Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to expedite document processing and manage certain task allocation automatically.

She also stressed that, while technology can be a powerful tool, it should augment, not replace, the human touch in the legal industry, especially when dealing with vulnerable clients who require empathetic support.

“Although artificial intelligence might evoke fear in some, it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future but we shouldn’t fret about its possibilities,” she said. “We’ve witnessed remarkable advancements facilitated by companies like Open AI who have made Large Language Models (LLMs) more accessible than ever before.

“The essence of human involvement will remain indispensable and instead of succumbing to fear, let’s welcome these changes with open arms.”

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