Legaltech In Kaunas: How Technology Is Making Its Way into Law
Photo; VDU, Jonas Petronis.
Legal scholars and practitioners are increasingly admitting that smart technology has been slowly modifying the legal profession. No, this does not mean that the role of a lawyer will be completely replaced by artificial intelligence: it is about the smart tools that can be used and integrated into the everyday life of a modern lawyer, which will enable faster and more efficient legal services.
We invited Aidas Kavaliauskas, the CEO of tech company “Amberlo” and Vice-Dean of Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) Faculty of Law Dr. Aušrinė Pasvenskienė to talk about the field of LegalTech, which is very promising in the world, and its rising popularity in Kaunas.
How much law and technology are currently intertwined: could you compare the progress of, say, the last decade?
Aidas: For many years, advanced technology was only available to large enterprises because small and medium-sized businesses simply could not afford such IT costs. That was also the case of law firms. The situation has changed with the emergence of cloud computing: what used to be available only to large corporations has become accessible to everyone. Developments in telecommunications and exponential growth in data quantity have also contributed to the sudden growth of digitization. Today, business is moving much faster, with better tools, better access to information, and much more data. A new generation has come into the business that is used to always accessing the required information from the device that is on hand at the time. An increase in business speed, the amount of information being processed and the next generation of lawyers are forcing everyone in the legal system to change.
The legal technology sector in Lithuania: do we have anything exciting to share or boast about?
Photo: Vice-Dean of Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) Faculty of Law Dr. Aušrinė Pasvenskienė.
Aušrinė: Although this area has just begun making its way to recognition, it is encouraging that more initiatives and discussions are emerging. Recently, a colleague and I have made a presentation in Barcelona and discussed the future of the legal profession as well as the need to modernize law studies: we have noticed that other European countries are also getting more interested in this area.
Aidas: However, I believe that the legal technology sector in Lithuania is still in its initial stage. But we do have several projects, such as skiriuosi.lt, turiuteises.lt, lawthis.com or lawcalizer.com, that use technology to provide more efficient legal services, and hopefully at least some of them will develop successfully.
What is holding the sector back? Objective reasons range from market size or funding to a conservative view of the legal community. However, I am glad that the situation has changed dramatically in recent years with emerging discussions and new initiatives both from major law firms, universities, and public authorities. Hopefully, it will become exciting new projects.
“Amberlo” is one of the few LegalTech representatives not only in Kaunas but also in Lithuania: tell us what you do and what service you provide?
Aidas: “Amberlo” is a cloud-based software for attorneys and lawyers. The program helps to manage client information, handle cases, schedule work, keep track of time and expenses, issue invoices and track payments.
All of the “Amberlo” founders are from Kaunas, so it is not surprising that our main team works here even though we have an office in Vilnius. Kaunas is attractive for our business because there are many IT talents, proactive and professional universities, and well-developed infrastructure. Because our customers are from all over the world, servers belong to “Amazon” and we are selling our products online, Kaunas is an optimal place for us. We plan to open new offices in at least a few more European capitals next year to allow customers in those countries to interact directly with local agents.
In the world, we compete with other similar LegalTech solutions, and there are 100+ of them (which, by the way, is not very much compared to other fields).
Talking about LegalTech popularization in Kaunas: what is VMU Future Law Laboratory and for whom it is designed?
Aušrinė: Vice-Dean of VMU Faculty of Law Dr. Paulius Astromskis founded the Future Law Laboratory, recognizing the potential of new technologies and possible challenges in the legal profession. The purpose of this initiative was primarily to raise awareness among the faculty community of the interaction between smart technology and law as well as to encourage students and colleagues to undertake research in this area. In three years, Future Law Lab has organized a series of events (workshops, conferences, discussions) involving students and academics, as well as businessmen who develop technologies for the market of legal services and lawyers who are using them or seeking such opportunities. We are happy to have a number of graduates who have successfully written and defended their final theses in the field of law and technology and are continually working in this field.
Photo: Aidas Kavaliauskas, the CEO of tech company “Amberlo” .
Aidas: We have been successfully cooperating with Future Law Lab for some time. I myself have attended several workshops organized by VMU, shared my experience in developing innovative tools for lawyers and presenting opportunities and challenges in the legal technology market. In the next semester, “Amberlo” will contribute to the studies: we will give lectures to the Faculty of Law students and provide them with the opportunity to test our technology tools used in law practice.
Aušrinė: It is also worth noting that in 2017, the team of VMU Faculty of Law scholars has won a competition for high-level research funding and has started a project addressing the issue of how to regulate the development of intelligent information technology and robotics so that public well-being is improved without violating its fundamental values.
Even more of LegalTech is appearing in our integrated study program: this year, disciplines such as Technology Law and Legal Technology have started. During the spring semester, students will have the opportunity to choose from subjects such as Space Law, Intellectual Property Law, Law and Artificial Intelligence, which will be taught by visiting professional scholars from abroad.