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More than Just a Lawyer

Rob Otty on the future of law

Wednesday, 23 September 2015
Norton Rose Fulbright
Rob Otty on the future of law

"The legal profession’s current model of operation may not be sustainable for the near future"

In 2002 Tom Cruise starred in the futuristic block buster “Minority Report.” The movie featured technology which, at the time, we could only begin to dream of. Fast-forward to 2015, with the growth of technology in fields such as the Internet of things and the future is now. With this progression underway it is widely accepted that the legal profession’s current model of operation may not be sustainable for the near future. Rob Otty is the Managing Director of Norton Rose Fulbright and he gives us his insights to prepare for the practice of law in this technological dispensation.

Technology: the disrupter

Similar to how homicide detectives were no longer needed in the “Minority Report” because culprits would be apprehended before the crime took place; in our era there are technologies already being developed and released at an exponential rate which limit the practice of black letter law. Discovery, a practice which was once solely done by law firms can take place electronically through e-discovery. Algorithms now exist to determine a case’s likelihood of success and value of settlement from the time of filing. Prima facie this may appear to be a daunting state of affairs for your career path. If you practise at Norton Rose Fulbright however, you will probably still have a smile on your face. This is because Norton Rose Fulbright in its thinking is at the forefront of change and innovation.

At the vanguard of the modern legal era, the firm is geared to take the lead in moulding strategic avenues in the industry and remaining at the peak of relevance. From their three core values of quality, integrity and unity, Rob quotes unity as the most defining characteristic of the business as it allows the firm to remain ahead of the curve. This is because the firm is made up of individuals who are able to band together to traverse any landscape. From the moment of appointment, the global firm aims to equip individuals who are motivated to strive for the common goal of providing excellence in legal service around the world.

The Way Forward

As Managing Director of Norton Rose Fulbright, Rob Otty is conscious of the effects technology will have on the practice of law. Whilst many may see this as a dilemma, this firm sees the opportunity in being the first to harness the power of technology and fusing it with its intellectual capital. Whilst technology poses challenge to the industry, the power of interpretation that the human mind possesses is yet to be grasped by it. The duty placed in s39 (2) of the Constitution is a prime example of this. It requires a human being’s ability to decide whether a law promotes the purpose and objects of the Bill of Rights, and to comprehend the duty placed on the courts to develop that law to conform to the standards of the Bill of Rights.

Where do you fit in the future of law?

Rob’s words of wisdom to all aspiring candidate attorneys is to broaden their horizons. The future lies in your ability to superimpose your skills onto what technology can do. As millennials, you are already exposed to more technology than previous generations. This places you in a great position to be prepared for change. The law profession will become more dynamic and if you equip yourself correctly, you will be able to thrive in it.

Rob closed off by telling us that in order to equip oneself, aspiring candidate attorneys need the ability to transform raw knowledge into a commodity or package that can be sold. Skills such as strategic thinking and some coding knowledge will aid in this process. This understanding alone may well ensure that you are indispensable in any setting you are faced with. There are many ways to go about getting yourself ready to join the evolving industry of law, but no matter your choices in broadening your horizons, it’s best to place your reliance in a well-established firm like Norton Rose Fulbright in this technological dispensation to ensure your future is well guarded.

Cape Town Durban Johannesburg More than just a lawyer

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