How To Tackle Legal Issues in 2023: Takeaways From Webinar
On March 28, 2023, Lawrina Templates hosted a legal webinar for solopreneurs and small business owners dedicated to solving legal issues and matters without a lawyer. Meet the lawyers and legaltech experts who shared with us their valuable experience:
- Colin Levy — a legaltech leader, director, and evangelist at Malbek, a legal CLM software. Colin is also an Advisory Board Member at Proxy, a cloud-based legal workflow tool. He recently relaunched his website, offering legaltech insights, interviews, and consulting services;
- Yev Muchnik — a corporate and securities attorney highly qualified in various practice areas, including private equity; fund formation, debt, and equity capital raising; corporate governance and compliance; and white-collar investigation;
- Alidad Vakilli — a corporate attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP. His practice covers advising entrepreneurs, founders, startups, emerging growth companies, and investors throughout the business lifecycle, from formation to exit.
- Karyna Pukaniuk — a tax and corporate expert, a team leader, and a true legaltech pro, host of the event. Karyna is the driving force behind the smooth operation of the legal team at Lawrina. She’s always willing to help businesses solve legal issues and share her expertise in podcasts, articles, and this webinar.
Speakers shared their opinions on the most popular and discussed topics, including:
- The significant legal changes for solopreneurs and SMB owners in 2023;
- Ways to solve legal issues without a lawyer and how to do so;
- Top legal tools to use when solving legal issues without lawyers;
- ChatGPT vs. lawyers — will the technology replace specialists?
- Is there really trust in AI-powered legaltech tools?
The following article includes the main insights from the legal webinar and an opportunity to get a record of the entire event.
Legal Issues for Solopreneurs and SMB Owners in 2023
Before discussing solutions to problems, we need to identify the difficulties solopreneurs and SMB owners face and why they arise. Quoting Colin, “There’s a lot to think about when you are starting or setting up or even just running a small business.” So, the first part of our legal technology webinar is devoted to problems and issues solopreneurs may have.
Colin talks about ongoing issues that can sometimes be complex and overwhelming and can evolve. But the good news is that tools are available to help simplify things more than they otherwise would be.
All three experts share this opinion:
Fortunately, solving legal issues is not something impossible or too complicated. We didn’t even need to provide legal research — the webinar shed light on everything business owners should know.
Yev, our legaltech expert, noted, “There are enough free tools that don’t leave you with any excuse for not being able to present those to potential investors.” This means that, even at the very beginning of a company’s existence, a startup can and should use technology rather than worrying about the price tag. First, there are plenty of free or inexpensive solutions. Second, by using such solutions, a business can protect itself from potentially more considerable financial losses. So even from the first day of functioning a business can solve legal issues using legaltech tools.
Solving Legal Issues Without a Lawyer
We no longer live in a world where every question can and should be solved exclusively by a lawyer who sits in an office surrounded by diplomas and certificates. In fact, this is exactly why we created this legal webinar.
However, when dealing with more complex issues, it is necessary to understand that at least consulting with an attorney will be beneficial. In businesses, there will always be requests that even the best modern technologies cannot solve — such legal issues are:
- Registering with the state to do business;
- Being compliant with tax laws; and
- Collecting data from the EU, and complying with general data protection regulation (GDPR).
However, Colin does advise communicating with lawyers for other issues.
With this same idea in mind, we created Lawrina Match, a place where users can find a lawyer near them who practices in the specific area of law that they need.
There is also another big problem. Lawyers are resistant to change, and many traditional lawyers “are fighting for their turf and not wanting to give away the association that you always need a lawyer,” as Yev rightly noted. “This kind of gatekeeping is very antiquated, particularly for your startup’s formation and corporation aspects.”
Interestingly, Yev and other speakers calmly and willingly empower business people to familiarize themselves with these documents and then reach out for customization. This frees up their time but does not “steal” clients. So not only business people are interested in solving legal issues without a lawyer — legal practitioners may benefit from it too.
Alidad develops the same idea but in more detail.
It is crucial not to just “use legaltech mindlessly” but to understand why we need it, what tasks it solves, and where we still need the advice of a professional.
Add to that a small piece of advice for lawyers out there:
AI-Powered Technologies and Trust in Them
Almost every day, we hear news about new advances in artificial intelligence (AI) development. ChatGPT’s latest versions can write contracts, create whole pieces of code, provide medical advice, and solve all legal issues that may arise. Theoretically. But can we trust the work of AI?
Colin expressed the most about AI technology.
But again, “first draft” means it’s very good at doing the basic stuff. Can it do something perfectly? No, because this dataset is limited, even though it was trained on a boatload of data.
Another question of trust is security. Here is the moment where a legal webinar turns into a conversation about the pros and cons of AI. In fact, this is an essential point when speaking about solving legal issues using AI or any other technology.
OpenAI — the foundation behind Chat GPT — has not been entirely upfront concerning what they’re doing with the data users give it. So, that’s another important consideration. Do not provide it with confidential information because no one knows exactly what they will do with that information. Be careful with these tools because, as with many tech tools, the ethical frameworks around how to use these tools are not quite fully developed yet.
Will AI Replace Lawyers?
Currently, it’s challenging to determine where AI is specifically getting its information from. For example, where is it pulling the data from if a user asks for an offer letter without specifying the jurisdiction? Is it creating an offer letter compliant with California or New York laws? Will this document solve legal issues of business from Texas? State laws vary on many different topics, including contractual provisions.
Therefore, Alidad thinks that people need to be very careful. If you have any concerns about doing something, seek good counsel. That’s your spidey sense, which you should listen to.
In other words, simple tasks that have few nuances can be given to AI. However, the more complex and specific the jobs, the more you need to investigate whether an AI tool specializes in that area of law or if you still need to consult a lawyer.
Alidad shares the same opinion.
Main Advice on Using Legaltech Tools
Context is key. Colin highlights the risk of overwhelming options for people in business regarding legaltech tools. While having many options is great, it can also be daunting to find ways to solve your legal issues with the help of technology. He suggests assessing your needs first and finding the best solution. This could involve looking for a tool that offers multiple functions, for instance.
Refrain from blindly trusting a lawyer who says a business does not need any legal tech. Yev noted that, as a practitioner, you need to be familiar with the available tools that can automate many simple tasks and provide more value to your clients.
This is the whole point of working with a lawyer — businesses should receive value from them, not feel like they are putting all their eggs in one basket by trusting a lawyer who poorly understands technology.
One great tip that Yev shares is about how to start using legaltech tools and understand why a particular company creates the best tools.
Check out the complete legal webinar recording to learn what tools fellow entrepreneurs and SMB owners can use to solve legal issues without additional help from lawyers or with minimal assistance. We discuss contract drafting using the example of legal templates and also talk about other products that will help you manage intake, manage payments, and save time.
You cannot rely solely on a lawyer or think legaltech will solve legal issues and problems. You need to take the best of both worlds and be open to new things. Now, you just need to want to become effective, and solutions will come your way.