The Use of Technology by Gold Coast Legal Practitioners
Digital technology is inexorably changing the landscape of law. From the adoption of sustaining technologies, which enhance the productivity and efficiency of the traditional law firm, to the creation of disruptive technologies, which fundamentally challenge the established forms of the legal profession, the digitalisation of the legal sphere opens up new spaces and structures of legal practice that challenge the form of traditional law firms. Existing literature on the digitalisation of law paints a narrative of technological resistance by traditional law firms, suggesting that BigLaw firms are defensive of the power and status that the current model affords them. However, in reality, the wealth and expanse of BigLaw firms allow them to freely invest in and create new technological innovations. Recent Australian research places BigLaw firms at the forefront of adopting digital technologies into the legal market, leaving behind small and medium-sized legal firms as the victims of digital disruption rather than as technological adopters or beneficiaries.
This article stands in contrast to the literature on traditional small and medium-sized firms, arguing that lawyers from such firms in Australia are not only embracing the use of technology but are also actively engaging in the digital transformation of legal practice. It presents qualitative findings from a 2018 study that involved open-ended interviews with nine lawyers from the Gold Coast, Australia on their use and adoption of digital technologies in their professional legal practice. Through unpacking these findings, this article demonstrates a new perspective of small and medium-sized traditional legal firms in which they do not resist law’s digital future but instead embrace it.