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Is being called a dinosaur such a bad thing?

If you spend any time on LinkedIn, you’ll have probably reached the conclusion that conveyancing is riddled with factions holding increasingly polarised views. Whilst as with all things, it’s the vocal minority that are grabbing their virtual pitchforks, a number of areas do seem to have attracted particular ire.

Firstly, experienced lawyers are bemoaning the lack of expertise amongst those they are dealing with on the other side of deals. This is a challenge facing everyone in the law and will, continue to be something that we grapple with. Secondly, recent disagreements have flared up between those supporting the Law Society’s right to change their own forms, and those who do not. Although this brings to mind 18th century activists in the United States throwing tea into Boston harbour in protest about a lack of decision-making authority despite paying their dues, this particular tea-cup storm will no doubt pass.

However, the third and most visceral fissure that is causing friction, is the one between the “dinosaurs” and “lawtech salespeople”. As someone in the latter category, but also responsible for running a law firm, I figured it was a topic worth exploring.

I’m a dinosaur, and proud

There is an assumption that the description of lawyers as “dinosaurs” or “Luddites” only comes from those ambitious souls trying to introduce new technology.  However, when I speak to more experienced lawyers, some will almost proudly describe themselves as one of these. Ironically, these are often the very people who at the forefront of driving change.

Problems arise with those that walk among us that are less self-aware, who claim that they would indeed be described as “dinosaurs” but deny this on the basis they have adopted technology in the past. The is the source of many of the issues we face today as it results in those trying to introduce new technologies falling into the trap of automatically giving this label to anyone struggling with the challenges we all face.

Identifying someone who raises concerns about the growth of technology as a “Luddite” is over-simplifying the label.  As you will recall from your history lessons, the Luddites were a reasonably violent 19th century organisation who toured around Yorkshire destroying machines that were threatening their jobs. The mythical founder, Ned Ludd, would be turning in his mythical grave if he were to witness today’s equivalent where lawyers are pleading for others to send a strongly worded email to the Law Society.

We do need to be careful when applying such labels, especially given the co-dependant nature of conveyancing. We see this in the responses we get when we ask firms to look at how they manage the pre-contract enquiry process, because their inefficiency directly affects our ability to get our mutual cases through. It’s not that they are old-fashioned or out of touch; it’s just a problem they do not have the focus or the energy to solve at this time.

Technology is not inherently evil

Although technology is not good or bad, the way it is used can yield either benefits or introduce risks and costs.

Some assume that firms like mine who exploit the latest technologies, only do this to allow us to employ less experienced people. Ironically, the technology that enables this, workflow, has been around for decades – it’s old-fashioned and painful for both user and those who suffer the consequences of its use – and we would never use it.

Some aspects of Outlook are a great help for lawyers to organise their messages, but misery is caused by its overuse, and its support of add-ins offers a dangerous on-ramp for cyber criminals.   A law firm may be paperless, but not have a centralised set of robust precedents. Shared template folders have been a Windows staple for thirty years, but many have not deployed them. Even when they do, they don’t use technology to name documents accurately and consistently.

Are all dinosaurs bad?

There are those that complain that artificial intelligence cannot take over the role of the lawyer, and should be resisted at all costs. So why is it that the same people are happy to use online quoting engines and electronic identification tools?

It’s because that particular technology makes sense to them at that time.

We must avoid falling into the trap of accusing one another of being a Luddite, dinosaur or even worse, an ill-informed technology peddler. Resistance to change comes in many forms, and over-simplification creates more division which perpetuates further resistance.

Which is really not what anyone wants or needs right now.


Peter Ambrose is the CEO of The Partnership and Legalito – specialists in the delivery of transparent and ultra-efficient conveyancing software and services.

Peter Ambrose:, 01483 579978

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