How Is Technology Changing The Legal Profession
The last 20 years have seen exponential growth in technology for the legal profession, a profession that was previously renowned for paper trail files and heavily reliant on ‘archaic’ methods of managing documents and business operations.
It may have taken a couple of years for law firms to get fully on board and embrace digital transformation, however, there has been a notable increase in the number of firms adopting legal technology, and now more than ever we are seeing law firms adapting to a new age digital environment to avoid being left behind.
Evolving from the ‘old school’ fax machines to photocopiers and printers, firms have adapted to new technologies. In today’s sense, technology offers much more than just a form of communication and the ability to scan and duplicate documents. Technology is a verb as opposed to a noun.
Firms are using technology to aid, assist, and address issues within the firm with a focus on efficiency gain. We are seeing software programmes and mobile apps that are aiding in increasing the security function within a practise, new tech that assists with billing and management, time recording technology operating systems, and much more.
- Conveyancing – E-conveyancing is an example of new technologies being embraced by solicitors and is a relatively new concept whereby the entire conveyancing process takes place electronically, avoiding the lengthy and complicated procedure that is ‘normally’ followed.
- Electronic Courts – While most legal practices have taken a new age technological stance when it comes to filling out electronic application forms, the process of e-filing has given legal professionals the ability to file legal documents close to their due date. This has resulted in a domino effect on the courts, with many courtrooms installing software programmes that allow for more complex court hearings to be conducted and heard electronically.
- Social media and marketing – It is a known fact that technology has changed the way solicitors market their firms. The advancement of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms have single handily changed the nature of firms from what was once private and elusive to one that is public, informative, and transparent. Firms are also opting to outsource their marketing to external digital marketing agencies to save time and costs.
- Billing – Hourly rates and fixed fees are the new norms. Many software programs are more easily adaptable to the billable hour, and clients also prefer the transparency and price certainty of that billing format.
- Time recording – Software such as Enable Revenue Manager ensure that fee earners keep their time recording up to date which has allowed firms to not only become more effective but to also gain knowledge and insight into what their fee earners do, how much of that work is chargeable and manage configurations within the firm.
- In-house document management – Due diligence and electronic management systems have bought a new meaning to the words safety, discretion, and transparency within the firm.
Firms are using technology to aid, assist, and address issues within the firm with a focus on efficiency gain.
The future of legal technology
Tech will fundamentally change the way in which firms and lawyers do things. Law firms that have embraced new-age technology and marketing will gain a competitive edge over those that do not. As technology continues to evolve and develop, so we can expect technology within the legal profession to follow suit. So, what will the future of legal technology look like?
- Virtual law firms – There is set to be an increase in the number of firms whose practises will go fully online. The benefits include a reduction in service fees due to no large-scale HR and IT infrastructure costs. Lawyers would essentially have more control over their working hours and locations as well as potentially keep a greater share of fees they earn. However, it is predicted that specialised and niche sectors may not take on the same stance, as many do not engage in court proceedings.
- Homeworking – The world has changed drastically in a matter of months due to COVID-19; we can only expect it to change further as firms learn to adapt to remote working. What may previously have been a gradual shift towards home working has become a ‘sink or swim’ situation whereby firms have had to adapt or close. Thanks to the benefits offered by cloud computing, this has been and will continue to be made possible in the future.
- Legal Libraries – The implementation of online legal libraries have directly impacted productivity and efficiency for law firms. Virtual libraries have allowed greater accessibility for firms, allowing their staff time to focus on other tasks. This has encouraged growth in the teleworking trend and will continue to evolve and grow with the rise in remote and home working.
- Intelligence-driven practises – AI has become increasingly popular in firms due to its ability to provide high-value insight and increase firm-wide productivity. Looking to the future, AI advisory chatbots and predictions of case outcomes using historic data and artificial intelligence will help lawyers better understand the cases they take on, and that’s just the beginning.
The future is here
For ambitious forward-thinking firms, it is clear that embracing technology is the only way forward to avoid being left behind. Technology has not only disrupted the legal sector but redefined it and law firms should look to enhancing their technologies and practises to make sure they are still relevant no matter what economic and environmental situation they may be faced with.
How we can help
The Strategic Partner provides essential support to law firms. We offer a range of services and consultancy tailored to the legal sector. We have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the overall management of law firms and work with them to achieve profitability, stability, and efficiency. Our goal is to become a valued and respected partner to our member law firms providing high-quality services and solutions at all times.