Over the last few years, everyone’s business model changed. Even though the legal industry has historically been slow to adopt digital transformation, many firms need to adopt cloud-based technologies to remain competitive. From individuals purchasing homes to general corporate counsel departments, clients want digital experiences for convenience and cost reduction. Simultaneously, lawyers want to increase productivity while needing to protect attorney-client privilege.
As you build out your digital strategy, understanding these top ten legal technology trends can help you make informed decisions based on the current market.
What is legal technology?
Legal technology, or legal tech, is the collection of applications, software, and digital services enabling law firms to adopt automation. The legal profession uses these technologies to streamline daily tasks associated with:
● Contract management
● Case management
● Practice management
● Data security and privacy
For example, artificial intelligence can reduce the time lawyers spend on repetitive, administrative tasks. While legal documents will remain an industry staple, firms and internal legal departments need solutions that help them streamline business operations.
Why is legal technology important?
It might seem trite to say “COVID-19 changed how the legal industry does business.” However, the legal industry has been historically slow to adopt digital transformation. To remain viable, law firms had to shift their business models rapidly during the pandemic, often more quickly than traditional businesses.
Now that firms have invested in legal tech, many find continued value from the chosen solutions. Some benefits include:
● Cost reduction: eliminating costs from things like paper and postage
● Increased productivity: eliminating time-consuming manual review tasks so attorneys can spend more time working with clients and on revenue-generating projects
● Enhanced compliance: easily documenting within the technology to meet security, privacy, and professional compliance requirements
● More opportunities: reaching new clients who might previously have been too far away to meet with in-person
These benefits apply equally to in-house legal departments and law firms. For example, many corporate legal departments work with law firms across multiple jurisdictions. An organization with global offices needs firms to represent it within each jurisdiction. As a firm, you can expand your reach, providing services to companies no matter where they are while also optimizing attorney billable hours.
Different categories of legal technology
No single digital solution exists to manage everything that your firm or legal department needs to do. To digitally transform your business model, you need to integrate solutions across these technology types:
● Business enablement: Digitizing legal data to streamline information sharing
● Support process tools: Managing back-office operations like accounting, business development, case management, document management, paralegal job functions
● Substantive tools: Streamlining legal administrative activities for litigation and case analysis
While substantive tools focus on the legal industry’s unique needs, you should focus on finding the right set of business enablement and support tools that work for your organization. It’s particularly important for solutions to provide the appropriate security and privacy controls that protect professional privilege.
10 legal technology trends
With more firms adopting legal tech, trends highlight the direction that the industry is taking. Understanding these trends can help you remain competitive.
Analyst Gartner found that legal tech spending already increased 1.5 times between 2017 and 2020. It predicts that spending will increase to approximately 12% of budgets by 2025. Problematically, the analyst also noted that legal departments that invest in large-scale contract lifecycle management tools without considering end-users and business processes will only capture 30% of the solution’s potential benefits.
Legal chatbots are computer programs that simulate conversations with potential clients, often responding to “most frequently asked questions.” Law firms can use chatbots to automate responses to questions about billing or as part of their marketing strategies.
Legal research technology
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), these solutions review available caselaw, highlighting ones most applicable to the attorney or paralegal’s search. They provide summaries and context, reducing the amount of time people spend looking for the right case law to support their argument.
Video conferencing tools provide multiple benefits. First, they give lawyers a way to work remotely, making them better employees. Second, many legal activities remain remote. For example, mediations and arbitrations are now conducted through video conference rather than gathering everyone in an office.
Document management automation
As the legal industry adopts cloud-native solutions, they need to manage these new digital documents. Most firms and legal departments want technologies that facilitate document creation, sharing, and completion. Additionally, they want to search for documents easily in a single, centralized repository.
As part of the document lifecycle, the legal industry continues to adopt eSignatures that enable remote, binding document signing. It reduces traditional costs like paper and postage. However, it also enables faster completion times for documents, including affidavits, contracts, and employee or vendor contracts.
Cybersecurity and privacy technologies
Digital transformation changes how the legal industry protects sensitive client information. Protecting attorney-client communications is a professional responsibility. However, many firms and legal departments also collect, transmit, store, and process personally identifiable information (PII) protected under privacy laws, including:
● Birth dates
● Social security numbers or tax identification details
● Healthcare information
Discovery is often a time-consuming process since lawyers need to collect, search, and sort large volumes of documents. eDiscovery software automates the manual tasks like ingesting data, removing unnecessary files, applying redactions, and time-stamping documents.
Billable hours can be an attorney’s best friend and worst nightmare. Attorneys drive revenue and prove value based on the number of billable hours they document. At the same time, the documentation takes time that could otherwise be spent on client work. Time tracking technologies enable lawyers to record hours more easily, provide accurate entries, and analyze billable versus non-billable hours.
The legal industry is a service industry, meaning that lawyers spend a lot of time in meetings. Using a scheduler reduces the non-billable time spent sending emails back and forth when trying to align calendars.
Tresorit: Document security and management for the legal industry
Protecting attorney-client privilege is a primary underpinning of the lawyers’ professional responsibilities. Whether you need to safeguard exchanges between two parties or sensitive data such as PII, you need a cloud-native secure workspace that protects your data exchanges.
Tresorit’s secure workspace gives you everything you need to create a secure, integrated document repository that futureproofs your business operations. With Tresorit, you can secure documents and emails using best-in-class end-to-end encryption to collect confidential and sensitive files from clients without compromising privacy. The solution allows you to set user-specific access so that you can limit who sees documents both internally and externally – guaranteeing no one but the intended recipient will be able to access your documents, not even Tresorit. With the latest edition to the Tresorit portfolio, Tresorit eSign, you can build automated workflows that manage the entire document lifecycle by creating templates saved in Tresorit, sending or sharing files securely from within the Tresorit ecosystem, and documenting the signing process, all in one place.