AJS South Africa


And doing more than what is expected of us…

It is probably a weird thing to say – We are human. “Duh”, 

But it is a factual statement. We are. And in that statement, we have been searching for the true meaning of what it really means to be human – especially in this fast-paced technological day and age.

The following quotes initially came to mind – 

“Before you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or any other theology, learn to be human first.” – inspirational author, Shannon. L. Adler

“My first world is humanity. My second world is humanism. And, I live in the third world being merely a human.” – poet and Nepalese writer Santosh Kalwar

And those seem compelling enough – being human transcends so many things. It is beyond religion, it is beyond the labels that we have devised for ourselves. Because being human incorporates all of it. 

Which leads us to the thought that, at AJS, we need to strive to be more

But how do we do that?

What does it mean to Be Human?

Following Human Rights Day on 21 March, it got us at AJS thinking, mostly about how the embrace of technology (particularly legal technology) has impacted on the “human factor”.

And this, of course, lead us to the question of what it means to be Human. An honest question. Something Aristotle himself questioned (although couldn’t quite define in its entirety). According to philosophical commonplace, Aristotle defined human beings as “rational animals”. Of course, Aristotle repeatedly stressed that he regarded rationality as the crucial differentiating characteristic of human beings, making us unique. Going further to say that humans are social and political creatures who have activities common to all.

But is that it? 

The only thing that defines us from the rest of the animal species is our rationality? Asked differently, in what sense is the true essence of ‘catness’ shared by all cats (or in this instance, shared by all humans)? What makes us human?

To start off with, we need to ask the following questions – is Being Human simply a matter of being rational? Of being social? Of having the ability to communicate using words, symbols, body gestures and facial expressions? Being able to make our own decisions and bearing the consequences thereof. Is it just about freedom and freedom of choice (especially)? Is being human the ability to make and wear clothing, accessories, and other necessities required to guard our morality? Is Being Human simply being self-aware and having self-consciousness (think of your cat when it looks into the mirror – it does not see itself. It sees another cat)? 

Or is Being Human simply about having an opposable thumb?

Well, yes. It is all of those things. But it is also a little more than that

What are we actually saying? 

As we know, the legal industry is awash with all things “legal tech.” Once slow to change (and adoption of technology), the legal industry has finally embraced technology, using it to its full (and most promising) advantage. This rapid adoption of artificial intelligence by both the in-house community and law firms alike, confirms the push to automate high volume/low value tasks to extract more value from legal practitioners, allowing collaboration of entities like Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSP’s) with forward thinking law firms and in-house legal departments. 

As is evident by now, the melding of technology, business and legal expertise is the way of the future. And legal practitioners (in various industries) who adopt tech-enabled practice models, have succeeded in aligning their business with the demands of their clients, thereby providing multi-disciplinary expertise that solves material business challenges. It’s a win-win situation. We know this. But there is very good reason for it too. Technology has not only aided in blurring boundaries and undermining territoriality but it has hugely benefitted consumers at a time when business is increasingly global. Bringing projects that were once across borders working alongside colleagues in different countries, into your own living rooms. From the impact technology has had on the way we live, work, and conduct business to its far reaching practicality, the adoption of technology is inescapable. 

We acknowledge that technology has proven itself to be extremely useful, making our lives easier. Allowing for routine tasks to be automated, resulting in a reduction in time and legal spend for clients. And the main benefit, from our standpoint at least, has been the freeing up of time allowing for focus to be on other things (like mental health issues). Allowing legal practitioners to work from anywhere in the world, providing freedom to be more than just lawyers

And that’s all well and good but where is the humanity in all of this?

Humanity in legal tech

Despite technology’s usefulness and “can’t do withoutness”, the advent and adoption of legal tech has unfortunately furthered the arm’s length approach that lawyers and legal practitioners have been infamous for. Admittedly, this arms-length approach of doing business (via cloud hosting, online practice management toolkits, zoom, app or zapper) has regrettably resulted in the humanity factor, taking a bit of a back seat. And this feeling is not just rippling through the legal world. This stripping away of humanity from how we conduct business is rippling across all industries and across all businesses. 

With everything happening online (including family gatherings, pub quizzes, concerts and award ceremonies) to consumers purchasing their groceries, clothes and makeup online, conducting conferences and meetings over Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams and running their businesses and practices from the Cloud, there is no longer a real need for the human touch. For human interaction. For the old school approach of “getting to know your clients”. Not really. Everything can be done without knowing who the other person on the end of the toolkit or app is. And that’s not always advisable for a customer-centric, agile and personal approach to doing business. An approach that should align providers with the customers they serve. The approach that AJS strives for.

The shift that needs to happen is the melding of tech with human resources to not only optimize performance but to derive profit from performance and customer satisfaction, not just on hours billed, or work performed. And whilst technology has created a new enthusiasm, a new hopefulness, has created new career paths and has eased globalism (both within the legal industry and in businesses in general), we feel that there is something missing. 

And it is at this point that we must confess that this “something missing” is the human factor within legal tech. Something we believe is not only possible, but is necessary. 

But you are legal tech?!

We know how this sounds (weird) coming from a legal tech company such as AJS. We acknowledge that it may come across as a little odd and self- degrading. But we would argue that it isn’t. It’s just honest. 

We are very proud of our products. We are proud of what they can do for law firms, legal practitioners and businesses alike. We know the advantages of incorporating our tech into your business. We agree that businesses (especially law firms) need to embrace technology. But we do not believe that humanity needs to be (or should be) stripped away from that service offering.

Human Rights Day reminded us that Being Human – that having freedom of choice, association, religion, being self-aware and having self-consciousness. That being able to communicate using words, symbols, body gestures and facial expressions. That making our own decisions and bearing the consequences of such decisions. That the ability to make and wear clothing, accessories, and other necessities to guard our morality – and yes having our opposable thumbs – are all gifts. Gifts that extend beyond race, creed, religion, sex or nationality. 

Because Being Human is about caring. It is about giving of time and energy. It is about making an effort. It is about going above and beyond. Without the promise of heaven. It is about being more than simply what is expected of you. 

And we strive for that. Continually. 

You can think of us as a new age business with old school morals and ethics. We believe in getting to know our clients. We believe in providing a “safe haven” for our clients – ensuring that there is a face behind the AJS brand. We are people. People that take an interest in our clients. Doing more for our clients than what would normally be expected. We believe that amidst all the advantages that tech can admittedly provide, AJS still offers something that tech never can. And that is being there for you. The old school way.

Give AJS a call today to see how we can assist you (we have many excellent products on offer) whilst always keeping your best interests close to heart. 

We look forward to getting to know you!

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” – Joseph Addison

Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS

Original article posted at Tech4Law

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