By Aruna Noah Nathan
Micha-Manuel Bues is Co-Founder and Managing Director at BRYTER, a company that provides a code-free, AI-powered building platform that allows for the intuitive building, management, and distribution of interactive applications. Micha graduated from the University of Oxford with a Magister Juris and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Cologne. He went on to be a lawyer in a big law firm specializing in antitrust law. Then, he became managing director of Leverton, a legal tech startup which focuses on contract management, where he stayed until he founded BRYTER in April 2018. Micha is co-founder of the European Legal Tech Association. As a member of the Executive Faculty of the Bucerius Law School, Micha advises and researches topics regarding the digitalization of the legal industry.
- You are the founder of the “Legal Tech Blog”—what was your inspiration to start this blog?
- I was always fascinated by technology and its possible consequences on life and work. When I started the blog, I was a Senior Associate at a well-renowned German law firm. Looking at the U.S. or U.K., I had the sense that the German legal market was ripe for Legal Tech—but there were no resources available to get information on Legal Tech or to explore the topic. This is when I decided to kick-off the blog in August 2015.
- In your opinion, how have technologies changed legal practice in recent years?
- Technology has changed business models and structures in the legal industry. A lot of law firms have started to sell digital products and to adapt their business model accordingly. Many law firms altered their structure in order to be able to cope with the price pressures arising from automated solutions and highly specialized teams.
- How will technology change the way lawyers work?
- Lawyers need to focus on the value-adding work he or she can provide. This requires a clear focus on where a lawyer might add value to an automated product or solution.
- Will legal technology eventually replace lawyers?
- No—it is impossible to automate what lawyers do in its entirety. The lawyer’s work is way too complex. But a lot of the standardized work will be automated and consequently we might need less lawyers for the “simple” legal work.
- What differences are there between Germany and the US in regard to legal technology?
- My sense is that Legal Tech in the U.S. and Germany have a different focus and speed. Whilst the U.S. was a frontrunner when it came to the adoption of legal technology, its adoption and implementation rate have slowed down in recent years. The billable hours are still too high and lucrative for lawyers to actually feel a need to change something in their business model—which makes sense from a business point of view. Germany is notoriously slow in adoption of legal technology, but it gets nudged by London, where the Legal Tech industry is flourishing, which impacts continental Europe as well. Currently, the focus in Germany and the U.K. is on building tools for legal department and to automate complex knowledge.
- How did the idea for BRYTER come about?
- We analyzed the market and the broader development in the automation space. We realized that there is no solution available to automate complex decisions, assessments and knowledge in the legal industry. This is the reason why expert workers, like lawyers, consultants and tax advisors are almost untouched by automation. BRYTER set out to change this.
- How does BRYTER work, what problem does it solve, and why is it important?
- BRYTER helps to model and automate complex decision-making and knowledge without any coding skills. BRYTER overcomes the problem that automation solutions in these domains have so far been too difficult to implement— this is partly, due to the high cost of hard-coded solutions. BRYTER is important because it allows everyone to structure and digitize their “brains”.
- As an expert in technological innovation, can you provide guidance as to how lawyers or entrepreneurs without a technical background can increase their expertise or build a support structure to become an expert?
- To “understand” the benefits of digital transformation and innovation it is important to actually implement digital projects on a large scale, and frequently. Digital competence can be only acquired through learning by doing and by making mistakes. This is why you cannot learn digital transformation in an academic course.
- What should future lawyers consider preparing themselves for the evolving job market?
- It is difficult to prepare. In general, every future lawyer should have a very open mindset towards change and new opportunities. It is important to know the different tools and technologies, and their application areas and limits. Otherwise, you need to be willing to experiment with new business models and the ever-changing world around you—a mindset that does not only apply to lawyers.