Robert Taylor, CEO and General Counsel of 360 Business Law 


When asked to contribute a guest blog for IPSX, to explain how technology had shaped both IPSX and 360 Business Law’s client proposition, I jumped at the chance. Both IPSX, by developing the world’s first regulated property trading exchange, and 360 Business Law share common ground, in terms of our application of technology and our determination to democratise our industries, removing barriers and opening them up to a broader client base. 


Tradition is Expensive 


Finance and law are viewed as traditional professions, and retaining the services of a ‘magic circle’ London law firm has long been considered as reassuringly expensive. When you pay for a top law firm, the bill covers far more than just the legal advice you receive. It has to cover the overheads of the firm; it pays for the salaries of the lawyers, their paralegals, legal secretaries and junior assistants. It also helps to pay the rent of the office where these staff are located.   

For many companies and their finance teams, the pandemic pulled back the curtain. After a short adjustment period, it became evident that with the right technology, law practitioners of all types, even barristers, were perfectly capable of working from home. All of a sudden it became commonplace to have a meeting with a solicitor or barrister, or an overseas attorney working remotely taking place over Zoom or Teams. This prompted companies of all sizes to take another look at the costs involved with legal services and to examine the legal bills they were paying a bit more closely. In fact, companies started to realise the client experience they were now getting – by dealing directly with that lawyer on matters, instead of having to go through various subordinates – was much better than before. 


IPSX and 360 Business Law 

Our relationship with IPSX is based on our mutual understanding that commercial real estate investment will always require best-in-class legal arrangements and advisory services. But we also have a shared belief that technology is about democratisation. For IPSX this includes creating new opportunities for investors who previously did not have access to commercial real estate, as well as for building owners that can now explore listing their property on a regulated property stock exchange. But above all, technology is about delivering a seamless experience for clients and innovating in ways that make business relationships equitable for everyone. Part of this commitment is about offering greater choice.  


How Tech Has Reshaped Law Services?


While the pandemic accelerated this technology shift, at 360 Business Law we spotted this direction of travel much sooner. We started our virtual law practice in 2014, offering small and medium-sized companies a legal subscription model that meant they paid fixed monthly fees for all their contract needs. Our proposition was simple: magic circle-quality legal advice without the price tag. Without the same overheads as a traditional law firm, we could offer highly-qualified lawyers working from home, delivering a better quality service at considerably lower rates. This meant that for us, there was no pandemic adjustment period: it was simply business as usual.  

But technology is not just about better communication with clients. With a completely digital infrastructure, all legal matters are carried out via a cloud-based practice management system. It drastically reduces the number of billable hours per month. We built our own time and management system for all matters, which allows us to distribute matters on a global basis. It also lets clients log into the system directly to see what’s happening with their cases globally, and how much time matters have taken. Deals get completed far quicker and that old refrain “it’s with our lawyers” doesn’t mean waiting days to get an update or reply. Also, there are no longer any surprises when clients receive their bills, because everything is itemised, online and accessible to clients in real time. 


What Does the Future Look Like? 


Thanks to technology, the law is starting to be seen as something that can be practised in a variety of different ways. But it’s impossible to talk about technology without thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) language learning models, such as ChatGPT and the like. Will AI become widely used within the law? Absolutely, but with caveats. In the right hands, AI can be a highly effective and time-saving precision tool.

But not everyone knows how to use a precision tool, so it needs to be wielded carefully. The quality of content you get out of AI models is only as good as the person writing the prompts and checking the responses. The same is true for investing in commercial property; you have to trust the people behind the tech have the necessary experience and expertise to use it responsibly and with authority. 

But what most excites me is how AI can blend with business intelligence and where this intelligence can be shared freely between lawyers and their clients. This will lead to real-time updates on case management systems that can be assigned to lawyers located anywhere in the world. We already have some clients using this technology, and they benefit from their lawyers using it too.

There are lots of advantages to speaking the same language when it comes to technology – whether you’re conducting a multi-million-pound contract negotiation or listing a multi-million-pound commercial property on a real estate stock exchange. But this is where traditional law firms are at a disadvantage. It used to be the case that companies could only go at the spending of their legal input. But law firms using legacy technology now look too slow, too inefficient and too unresponsive to meet their more tech-enabled client’s needs.  

Large law firms are brilliant at what they do and they charge accordingly. But the world is changing and tradition is no longer the selling point it once was. Many more companies and their CFOs recognise the need for legal services that are more flexible, responsive, and efficient. We are pleased to be able to offer that as an alternative.  

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