Law firms are under the same pressure as any other business to keep up with technology, and arguably, moreso. Lawyers must now provide their services efficiently and at a reasonable price, whilst ensuring they keep overhead costs down. Competition is fierce, and forward-thinking firms are looking towards legal technology to help them gain traction in the market.
Law firms are not the only ones to recognise the crucial role of legal tech in years to come. The UK government has set out its commitment to reform the legal system in the HMCTS reform programme. What’s more, the Law Society has joined forces with Barclays to open a legal tech incubator, which they hope will transform the legal sector.
The future is clear; the future is legal technology
All over the world, legal firms are implementing tech applications to help modernise their practices and improve efficiency. Technology in the legal sector has moved beyond The Cloud (although this remains an integral part of the technology landscape), and tech services are being developed across all aspects of legal work. The result is that lawyers can now focus more on their clients and less on paperwork.
Here’s how technology is transforming the legal sector, and the benefits it will bring to firms like yours:
Due diligence, contract analysis, document proofing and automation
Software can now identify key clauses in contracts and assign them to team members for review, resulting in better time management and lower costs. Documents are also checked during the drafting process to improve their quality and reduce errors. An automation system generates documents based on a questionnaire, making the process even more efficient.
Legal research using AI
AI in tech is nothing like the image Hollywood has portrayed over the years. In the legal world, AI is a computer-based method of searching through data and carrying out day-to-day tasks. Using AI, legal research platforms read through case law and identify past cases relevant to a particular legal issue, based on the query entered into the platform. Firms like Lex Machina offer legal analytics to identify meaningful patterns in data. Lawyers can then use this information to plan their litigation strategies.
A popular choice in legal technology is software that streamlines standard business practices and improves productivity. For example, lawyers can now automate scheduling, billing and document management. Time tracking and invoice customisation reduce time spent on manual tasks and improve billing accuracy. Streamlining in this manner is not just the domain of larger firms. They may not realise it, but many smaller practices and sole practitioners who outsource administrative tasks are using technology-driven services.
Legal chatbots and ‘doing it yourself’
With clients becoming increasingly demanding, wanting access to legal advice 24/7, legal chatbots can provide fast interim guidance until a meeting or phone call can be arranged. They can also provide more affordable legal services to people willing to do some of the legwork themselves –what’s known as “DIY law”. Websites like Law Depot offer templates of legal documents that users can fill in themselves without using a solicitor.
Resistance to legal tech
Some firms may resist the oncoming wave of change that technology will bring to the legal landscape. Less tech-savvy lawyers may be happy to stick to more traditional methods, citing the cost of purchasing and the upheaval of changing processes as the main barrier to implementation. But can they really afford to sit and watch their rivals become leaner (while offering more affordable services to clients) as they fail to future-proof their businesses?
Flexibility for both clients and staff
Developments in legal tech have levelled the playing field for smaller firms wanting to compete with larger, more established businesses. Law is no longer a 9-to-5 business, and now even sole practitioners can take advantage of client-facing case management systems and video contact to offer more flexibility to clients.
Legal staff can also benefit from flexible working practices, such as working remotely and during the hours that best suit their needs. As with other industries, legal technology is developing quickly, and indications are that it is an area that will continue to expand over the next few years.
City Business Solutions can help you keep up to date with the latest developments in legal tech. Our IT services experts can advise you on how to integrate legal tech into your IT strategy successfully. Contact us now for more information.