If technology used to improve financial services is called fintech, you may be forgiven for coining the term “legaltech” to describe technology used to give legal services the 21st century touch.
Rapid development of artificial intelligence or AI and business-friendly government policies are helping modernize China’s legal services, said Liu Yan, a domain expert, at a recent forum in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
In fact, China will likely become the market leader soon, said Liu, who is also the marketing director of Shanghai Bestone Information & Technology Co Ltd, an internet-based company specializing in the application of information technology or IT in legal services.
AI is having a positive impact on legaltech, whose future was shrouded in doubt until recently, said Richard Susskind, IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.
Innovations, such as legal robots, can share some of the workload of lawyers, freeing up the latter to focus on more sophisticated work.
Liu said, “The market size of China’s AI-assisted legal industry was 80 billion yuan ($12 billion) in sales in 2016. It’s estimated that the market is expected to reach 500 billion yuan ($74 billion) in the coming decade, which means (there is) great potential for growth.”
In China, AI has been applied in various aspects of legal services already.
For example, speech recognition technology serves note-takers to record court proceedings much more efficiently and accurately.
Blockchain technology offers electronic evidence to help shape judgments.
On July 20, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, issued a guideline on the development of AI.
The same month, Zhang Jun, minister of justice, highlighted in a speech the need for establishing a unified legal service network using IT.
The Supreme People’s Court also underlined the use of AI in courtroom trials.
He Fan, an official at the Supreme People’s Court, said: “AI plays an important role in shaping the future development of the work in the courts. In the past, judges made their judgments based on their own understanding (of the law), while now they can refer to the law database to find an answer or confirm their decisions.”
According to Shanghai Bestone Information & Technology, there are now more than 100 legaltech companies in China.