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Il diritto si sta adattando alla rivoluzione tecnologica?

Pietro Borsano. Professore presso la School of Managament della Shinawatra International University. Avvocato presso Advising Asia - Business & Legal Consulting Co., Ltd.

Il diritto sta affrontando molte sfide, dovute all’emergere di nuovi modelli imprenditoriali (quale la c.d. sharing economy) e alla crescente automatizzazione e robotizzazione delle funzioni un tempo svolte da avvocati e professori. Nuove soluzioni si affacciano sul mercato dei servizi legali: da un lato, software basati sull’intelligenza artificiale eseguono approfondite ricerche giuridiche con maggior precisione, rapidità, e profondità di analisi di quanto possa fare un essere umano. Dall’altra, chatbot e piattaforme online stanno offrendo standardizzati pareri legali per casi più semplici, i quali non richiedono un particolare approfondimento qualititivo, ma possono essere risolti soprattutto in base a set di dati statistici tratti da casi precedenti (analisi dei c.d. big data). La tecnologia, inoltre, puo’ apportare sconvolgimenti in mercati consolidati: è il caso del blockchain e delle initial coin offering (ICO), un innovativo sistema di finanziamento che si situa tra la tradizionale quotazione sul mercato borsistico e l’equity crowdfunding, ma che presenta alcuni profili di rischio. L’Autore si chiede se il legislatore e la professione forense saranno in grado di anticipare i cambiamenti strutturali in corso e, anzi, di guidarli; oppure se, passivamente, si adegueranno ad un predominio della tecnologia anche nel settore giuridico.

PAROLE CHIAVE: crowdfunding - corporate governance - mercati finanziari - innovazione - intelligenza artificiale - sharing economy - automatizzazione - industria 4.0. - start-up - Initial Coin Offering (ICO) - blockchain - Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Is Law Adapting to Technology Disruption?

The law industry is facing many threats, due to emerging business models (such as the sharing economy) and increasing automation of legal activities, previously performed by paralegals, lawyers, and scholars. New solutions enter the law industry: on one hand, software led by artificial intelligence will carry out legal researches in a faster and more accurate way than any practitioners could; on the other hand, chatbots and online platforms are already delivering legal services and providing legal advice, especially for standardized cases, which can be solved through big data analysis. Further, technology can lead to disruption in consolidated markets – for instance, initial coin offerings (ICOs), enabled by blockchain technology, are already an alternative to both initial public offerings (IPOs) and equity crowdfunding, notwithstanding the level of risk embedded in such solution. One may wonder if policymakers and legal practitioners will be eager to lead the ongoing technology revolution, or whether they will passively follow the guidance of other stakeholders, namely legal technology startups.


I am very pleased today to welcome such distinguished panelists to the School of Management of our University, Shinawatra International University.

The topics which we will briefly touch upon today are indeed fascinating, and raise relevant questions on the importance of Law and how this latter can keep up with the frenetic pace of technology revolution.

We all wonder how the legal practice is likely to change due to technology disruption, mainly due to the adoption of artificial intelligence. At the same time, legal scholars are also requested to find innovative solutions to complex innovations, which are reshaping equity capital markets and, consequently, Company Law and Corporate Governance.

The agenda of today is as follows:

▪ A brief introduction over technology innovations in the law practice (namely, artificial intelligence and machine learning) and in current legal models (namely, initial coin offerings)

▪ An overview upon technology progress, especially fueled by the European civilization

▪ The relationship between financial markets and corporate governance, with a focus upon equity crowdfunding in Italy

▪ Artificial intelligence and its legal implications

▪ Protection of intellectual property rights related to technologic innovations.

1. Law & Technology

It is not long time ago when all of us legal practitioners used to examine bulk law books whenever we had to try a case. We still find occasional comfort in a solid civil code or a citation volume, manually cross-checking previous cases and evaluating whether they have been overruled or can be supportive to our angle.

However, it is well known that computerization of legal research (through database, such as Lexis Nexis or Leggi d’Italia) has made this meticulous yet low-productive human research not up to date anymore, and increased the efficiency of legal practitioners. Research and case checking assignments that might have taken hours could now be done in a matter of minutes.

Therefore, it can be said that technology is likely to expand work for lawyers, since it makes them more productive, rather than displacing them.

The same approach may be adopted towards the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence (“AI”) in law firms. With a faster and increasingly higher sophistication, top-notch software can provide tremendous benefits to law firms. AI and advances in machine learning have enabled software to complete data-intensive tasks and recognize patterns in data. Computers are able to identify relevant information and spot mistakes and inconsistencies much faster and more accurately than legal practitioners. 

Hence, it is not necessarily negative if technology frees up those younger attorneys to do more brief writing, analysis, or other higher order tasks that require judgment and strategic thinking.

While some fear the rise of the robots, it is actually more mundane technological challenges that may present the biggest difficulties for lawyers. For years, many law firms reaped consistent profits by charging a significant markup on their database services or basic technology costs (such as printing and telephone calls) in their client billings. However, after the latest economic crisis, clients (also, corporate clients) became savvier and started demanding that lawyers pass on those costs without markups.

Consequently, if technology evolution makes it harder for attorneys to get sufficiently paid a lot to do mundane tasks, «there will be a greater premium on the “soft” skills that, for now at least, are harder for a computer to simulate: things like client development, project management, negotiation, and case strategy. Any law school worth its salt should be considering how to modify its curriculum to better prepare students in these areas» [1].

It can be agreed that «we may not be facing a future without lawyers. But it is going to be a future that requires lawyers to learn how to utilize technology effectively to serve their clients – something we should all welcome, not fear» [2].

2. The Future of the Law Industry. Legal Tech & Law Tech [3]

Recently, several law firms and corporate legal departments are investing in artificial intelligence technology. This shift has yet to fully emerge in Italy, but it has been proved to be become mainstream in the United States and in other advanced economies.

Obvious benefits rule in favour of the automatization of the law practice – significant savings in time, higher ..

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