The Hearing Podcast: Legal futurist Joe Raczynski on AI, blockchain and smart contracts

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How close is tech to revolutionising the law?

Joe Raczynski

Artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and smart contracts are the buzzwords of the moment. And some reckon that their combined force could be about to disrupt the legal profession as we know it.

In the latest episode of The Hearing podcast, Child & Child solicitor Kevin Poulter discusses the practical impact of these technological developments with legal futurist Joe Raczynski.

While conceding that the noise around tech right now is almost at ‘Dotcom era’ levels, Raczynski argues that the rapid development of computer processor speed means that disruption of conventional legal service models is inevitable.

In particular, he identifies law firms’ partnering with universities and legal tech start-ups as a strong indicator that significant change could be just around the corner.

Listen to the podcast below or download it for free on iTunes, SoundCloud and Spotify



Wise man. I have also heard it said that lawyers are simply a lost tribe of computer scientists.

What is true is that this is coming down the pipe faster than alot of people realise and tomorrows (read today’s) lawyers will need to be able to draft in code.



And your assertion is based on…?

Increasingly tired of people with a vested interest in selling technology to law firms hyping the coming ‘tech revolution’ without reference to facts.

Why will tomorrow’s lawyers need to be able to ‘draft in code’?

Why is this ‘coming down the pipe faster than a lot of people realise’?

Everything I see within my own law firm indicates that the legal profession struggles with basic tech – IT systems aren’t great, hardware is old. That needs to be improved before anything else meaningful can happen.


Blake’s 7

Absolute nonsense. They may be required to understand certain aspects of coding and software engineering but it is ridiculous to suggest they would actually have to prepare cases in code. What an utterly absurd suggestion. It just highlights how little ‘tech’ knowledge people who spout this drivel are on possession of.



Noise about innovation, tech, AI etc is being used by government, law firms, corporate sector in general as a way to put a positive spin on years of low growth. Often conceals job cuts being made because economy is weak not because of some big new tech breakthrough. Truth is not much real innovation is happening, and where it is happening it’s taking place in start ups not in huge corporate law firms or banks.



Good luck practising as a lawyer in the 2020s and 2030s! We all know what happened to the Luddites. Sadly much of the legal profession seems destined to meet a similar fate.



Utter bollocks. What the actual fuck does “draft in code” mean? Do you mean “write computer code”? Because if so, then no – there are plenty of people who can do that and they tend to be paid relatively less than lawyers so I imagine, as for other cross-discipline endeavours, that lawyers would simply sub-contract the services of an IT contractor, were such input required. The fact is that for the vast majority of legal tasks, it simply will not be.



On the point made about blockchain in the podcast: disappointed that Kevin Poulter didn’t challenge Joe Raczynski on his point about the potential for law firms to develop closed blockchains.

The whole point about blockchain is that it is a decentralised database that no one has control over. A closed blockchain run by a group of 50 or so law firms is just Google Docs with 50 administrators. That is not revolutionary or even new. Surprised to hear it being used as an example for the potential of blockchain.



Good Luck


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