Today Dialogue is pleased to publish Map of fundamental technologies in legal services by Michelle Mahoney, Executive Director of Innovation with King & Wood Mallesons. It’s a valuable contribution, not least because to my knowledge, this map is the first of its kind. Readers’ views on the Map’s utility and way to improve it are invited.  

The key benefit of the Map is the helicopter view it provides of the ‘big four’ technologies – AI, blockchain, enterprise systems (i.e. databases) and pre-programmed code – and their many applications in legal services, e.g. document automation, expertise automation, legal research, matter management, all aspects of practice and client management, due diligence and e-discovery.

Michelle writes, there is a good deal of talk about innovation in law. Many external forces are driving recognition of the need for change and transformation. Back in 2015 the World Economic Forum focused attention on the fact that the third industrial revolution, based on the automation of production using electronics and information technology, is transitioning to the fourth, known as the digital revolution. This is manifesting in the digital transformation of industries, enterprises and client experience.

This digital revolution is evolving at an exponential rather than linear pace with technologies enabling the merging of physical, digital, and biological assets. These pervasive phenomena are fundamentally altering the way we live, work and relate to each other.

The digital revolution is unique in its velocity, scope, and systems impact. It is disrupting almost every industry and causing us to hear about the importance of innovation and digital capabilities daily. Enterprises are responding to this landscape through a variety of digital strategies:

  • increasing productivity – reducing the operational costs to deliver services or products;
  • maintaining relevance – augmenting traditional products and services with digital to meet the evolving client needs; and
  • future-ready – purely digital plays seeking to serve emerging and future client needs and the new patterns of behaviour.

Historically, the knowledge economy has used knowledge workers to combine information and expertise to create knowledge and services. The legal services industry is a prime example of this. Given the nature of legal work, the digital revolution is bringing with it technologies that are transforming legal service delivery.

Digital fluency in legal technology is critical for everyone in legal services as it increasingly becomes an enabler shaping the legal industry. Given the range and rate of proliferation of the technologies we are encountering, I have created a Fundamental Technologies Map. Click the graphic to enlarge and also download the Map.

The Map is designed to help make sense of the trends we are observing:

  • an increasing number of legal technology offerings;
  • the increasing effectiveness of legal technologies;
  • emerging new categories of legal technology;
  • the layering and combining of fundamental technology capabilities; and
  • the maturation of machine learning, natural language processing and deep learning artificial intelligence.

Given the exponential nature of the technologies, the Fundamental Technologies Map can only depict the landscape at the current point in time.  No doubt, it will require periodic updating to ensure it is mapping the enabling technologies as they emerge. Many of the AI applications are designed to be combined. Therefore I have shown examples of products for a particular capability, but note many products use a combination of AI techniques.

The example products are just that, examples in a product category, rather than best-of-class or the only product in that category. They have been included to help improve digital fluency through familiarity with vendors and in-practice applications.

For those who saw the potential of the third industrial revolution to facilitate behavioural change using technology in legal services, this digital revolution should renew your belief that technology can truly transform to the benefit of clients and service providers.


Michelle Mahoney is the Executive Director of Innovation at King & Wood Mallesons and a member of the firm’s Executive Leadership team. A serial intrapreneur with a strong global network, Michelle has a track record for maximising technology, transforming business and innovating.

Michelle is a member of the College of Law Program Board for the new Master in Legal Business and is Co-Teaching Fellow of the Fundamental Technologies Shaping Legal Services subject.

Michelle may be contacted on

More on related topics

Six key questions for understanding legal technology developments by Peter Campbell, Director: Client Solutions, Hall & Wilcox