The employees of legal protection insurers, Legal Protection Lawyers, help policyholders every day to solve their legal problems and issues. What is the potential of this profession and how can we advance and bring legal services and the services of our sector into the 21st century?
Digitisation affects consumer expectation
In an increasingly digitalised environment and with changing priorities as well as different needs of consumers, it seems logical that users of legal services also expect a more modern and adapted approach to the legal market. Consequently, it should be possible that different service providers, a larger variety of legal services co-exist and that legal protection insurers will eventually be fully accepted as attractive alternative legal service providers.
New prospects for legal insurers
While legal protection insurers understand themselves as alternative providers of legal services, the right (and desirability) of insurers to be part of the legal market and to provide legal services has been the subject of controversial discussion for many years. However, more experts nowadays take the view that besides “simply” good lawyering, other skills like efficiency, transparency or IT have become important for legal professionals. At the 2020 Congress of LPI, Prof. Elaine Mak, Utrecht University School of Law, Vice Dean for Education at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, presented her concept of the T-shaped lawyer. She explained that, in her view, the co-existence of different kinds of legal services, including the service of the Legal Protection Lawyer can actually present rather an opportunity than a threat.
In this context Christoph Arnet (Advocate/MLP-HSG, General Counsel Coop Rechtsschutz AG, Switzerland) writes how even high-level Courts of Justice can mis-interpret relevant EU regulation. In his article, Christoph Arnet criticises the EFTA Court’s judgment of 27 October 2017 (Nobile) because it negates the right of legal insurers to provide services in kind and unduly restricts the private autonomy of insurers to shape legal protection contracts. This, however, he considers to be in contrast to the relevant provisions of the EU Solvency II-Directive (Articles 198 (1) and 201 (1) lit. a) of Directive 2009/138/EC) because, according to Article 198 (1) of the Solvency II-Directive, legal protection insurance includes, besides covering costs of legal proceedings, representing or defending the insured in civil, criminal, administrative or other proceedings or in the occurrence of a claim against the insured person, thus extending legal protection cover to services in kind. Moreover, contrary to the EFTA Court’s assessment, Article 201 (1) lit. a) of the Solvency II-Directive does only restrict the freedom of contract to the extent that it prohibits the insurer to restrict the free choice of lawyer in an inquiry or proceedings, it does not, however, prohibit the insurer to provide services in kind.
The future of law(yering) – LPI Congress 2020 shows the way forward
It is beyond doubt: we will need lawyers in the future! Digitalisation and technology will by no means render them obsolete. However, as the Altman Weil’s 2017 Law Firms in Transition Survey puts it: “Artificial Intelligence will not replace lawyers, but lawyers who use Artificial Intelligence will replace lawyer that do not”. This is a challenge which legal protection insurers as well as the legal profession as a whole must embrace!
Therefore, at the 2020 LPI Congress we asked high-calibre key note speakers to explain how they see the future of the legal profession: Professor Iris van Domselaar (Director Amsterdam Centre on the Legal Professions and Access to Justice, University of Amsterdam) spoke about the challenges that digitalisation presents for professional ethics; Mille Haslund Mellbye (Søderberg & Partners, Norway) presented Sødde, the first digital employee who can become everybody’s new colleague; Hagen Habicht (Digital Impact Labs Leipzig GmbH, Germany) explained how law can serve as standard setter for the legal profession; and Prof. Elaine Mak (University of Utrecht) talked about the T-shaped lawyer, i.e. the role, skills, and ethics legal professionals should have in order to contribute meaningfully to the challenges of contemporary societies. Watch the interview with Prof. Mak here and the interview with Maxim Baer (Managing Director Legal Net GmbH) which includes an analysis of the level of autonomy which Legal Protection Lawyers enjoy in 19 different jurisdictions.
LPI Congress 2020 After-Event-Video: