Law firms should begin to plan for the sort of digital disruption that has impacted other sectors of the economy such as finance, retail and media. That’s the view of Toronto based lawyer, author and legal futurist Mitch Kowalski, who will be the keynote speaker at Chilli IQ’s 2013 Lawtech Summit & Awards to be held in Noosa, Queensland on 12 & 13 September.

Jenny Katrivesis, project director, conferences and summits, for Chilli IQ, cites a 2012 report by Deloitte – Digital Disruption: Short Fuse, Big Bang? – which predicts that the professional services sector would face the full impact of digital disruption in 2014-15. Katrivesis points to Kowalski’s comments: “New technologies that can automate and disintermediate legal services will force traditional law firms to rethink their models from the ground up” and his warnings that “the changes which loom are deep and structural, not a cyclical bi-product of economic conditions or globalisation.

“US technology companies, having already developed online applications for sectors such as finance, telecommunications and retail, are now turning their attention to legal services and developing new classes of applications and platforms which will disrupt the traditional mode of delivering legal services. Over the next few years we will see this blossom. There are a lot of people who see the law as code anyway – that it’s pretty easy to use that to build a decision tree and create applications.”

Technology, he predicts, could upset the traditional hierarchy of the law as “Smaller nimble firms led by specialists will be able to compete with even global Tier One firms because the volume work is in the computer.” Larger firms also needed to understand that “Everything completely changes when you don’t need lots of bodies to serve the needs of clients.” Kowalski claims that in spite of its threat to the status quo, technology “frees everything up, allowing you to change your business model.” Firms which fail to grasp the magnitude of the looming change could however find themselves swiftly marginalised he warns.

Just as bricks and mortar retailers have had to restructure to tackle  the rise of online retail, Kowalski believes law firms will have to reform themselves in order to more effectively compete with a rising tide of online alternatives where “the technology industry will nibble away at traditional legal process.” Kowalski also quotes Professor Dan Katz from Michigan State University Law School who says: if Google can make a driverless car, what makes you so sure that much of day-to-day lawyering can’t be done by a computer?

Other speakers at the event (which will include the always popular Lawtech Summit Awards) are Peter Campbell
, CIO & KM Director, Sparke Helmore 
 + Ben Swindale, 
CIO, King & Wood Mallesons + Russell Wright, 
CIO, Gilbert & Tobin + Richard Sanderson, 
General Manager Technology, 
King & Wood Mallesons + Jason Mills, 
IT Director, Cooper Grace Ward + Chris Latta, CIO – Colin Biggers & Paisley, Fi Slaven, former CIO, Grant Thornton + Natalie Bell
, Business Improvements & Projects Consultant, McCullough Robertson + Cristina Libro, 
Legal Technology Solutions Manager, Henry Davis York + Gavin Townsend
, Infrastructure Team Leader & Senior Systems Engineer
, Griffith Hack + Ashley Balls, 
Principal & GM
, Legal Best Practise NZ + Gavin Wingfield, eDiscovery Specialist, King & Wood Mallesons.

More information is available at or contact Jenny Katrivesis on 02 9818 6566 or 0402 021 089.