·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


3 Ways Technology Will Change the Legal Industry + How Firms Can Adapt

— June 18, 2019

Technology is continually advancing and all industries – including law – can benefit from these advances.

Technology permeates all aspects of our lives, transforming the way we communicate, do business and engage with our communities and interest groups. All industries and fields are optimizing their work processes and becoming more efficient and effective than before.

But, according to an Acritas report from March of 2018, a staggering 69% of U.S. corporate legal departments failed to see any of their legal service providers innovate in the previous 12-month period.

While, for instance, the European Union is committed to the digitalization of all branches of government, including the judiciary, this isn’t the case for all countries.

But even if the judicial system doesn’t help, firms can take measures to become more effective and establish better relationships with their clients by integrating new technologies into their everyday. 

Some of these new technologies are:

Automation of Repetitive Tasks

At JPMorgan, a program called COIN is analyzing commercial-loan agreements, a repetitive task that used to take specialists approximately 30,000 billable hours. Automation can help make law services less costly while allowing practitioners to spend more time on tasks that require the professional sensitivity, strategic thinking and creativity that we can’t count on machines for. 

It’s worth adding that the intellectual demands of practicing law makes it so that attorneys don’t have to fear automation. No, you won’t be replaced by a machine in the near future. 

SaaS, Remote Work and the Technology to Make It Possible

Two of the main trends that will make legal firms’ lives easier across the world are the growing offering of Software as a Service (SaaS) and the rise of remote work.

iPad and Mac on desk; image by William Iven, via
iPad and Mac on desk; image by William Iven, via

New industry-specific digital products and services are starting to help firms across the globe optimize their workflow, while remote work allows companies to capture the best talent they can find without geographical limits. If your best fit for an open position lives 30 miles from your offices, that doesn’t have to be a problem. The technology that makes remote work possible can also help you handle international cases with a smoothness and communication quality that would be impossible to imagine just 20 years ago. At most, a highly trained legal interpreter would be needed to mediate certain interactions – and they tend to work remotely. 

How to transform your firm

Listen to your clients & understand their needs

Analyze what might need improving, considering your specialization, your clientele and your current procedures. What kind of services do you provide? Who are your clients? What are their specific needs? What aspects of your service and workflow do they need you to make as effective as possible? 

If you’re dealing with Limited English Proficiency clients, the assistance of a remote interpreter might be key in some instances. If you’re carrying out work that requires comparative analysis at a rather superficial level, automation is especially relevant to you. If, like far too many law firms nowadays, you’re still managing invoices on paper, you might want to look into a system that can make that aspect of your business easier, safer and, why not, more eco-friendly.

Get what is right for you 

Will you be taking measures towards automation? You’re not alone, and you’ve got plenty to choose from. According to Tracxn’s 2018 Legal Tech Sector Landscape Report, the industry consists of “1800 companies of which 382 companies are funded”, and “has witnessed a total funding of $2.7B, with $457M invested in the last 2 years.”

It might sound obvious, but the true goal is providing services of an even higher quality, becoming more effective by delegating low-complexity and high-volume work, and removing unnecessary layers of internal bureaucracy. Of course, you’ll need to adapt to any new technology that you’ll incorporate into your practice. But, in the long run, it should make your legal services better. Don’t overcomplicate things. Start where it makes sense and where you feel that your firm will benefit the most in the short term, and don’t be reticent to ask for external help if you need it. 

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