Against the backdrop of a global health crisis and an ailing global economy, there has been increasing interest in the world of legal technology. The overnight shift to remote working has pushed lawyers into utilising technology, and as a result, we have seen an increased appetite amongst lawyers who are seeking solutions that will boost productivity, provide new ways to meet evolving client expectations, and secure lower costs in an uncertain financial landscape.
83% of law firms expect technology to be key in driving productivity
In a recent survey by Wolters Kluwer, 76% of legal professionals ranked the importance of legal technology as being the top trend to impact their organisations over the next three years. The focus has moved rapidly from ensuring that fundamental ‘keeping the lights on’ technology is in place to securing solutions tailored to the legal industry that will drive efficiency and productivity gains. 83% of law firms expect that greater use of technology will be a key component in improving productivity.
Legal technology and your client: collaboration, transparency and cost savings
Law firms are under increasing pressure to differentiate themselves in the face of clients seeking a more personalised relationship, expecting greater transparency and wanting more for less. As businesses and individuals quickly adapt to video conferencing to stay connected, lawyers are also adapting to using specialised legal technology to support clients – a trend which is likely to stay in place beyond the pandemic.
The most established legal technology solutions sit within the eDiscovery space where AI-powered analytics are enabling a seismic shift from the days of teams of paralegals spending countless hours manually reviewing thousands of hard copy documents to a situation where the software ‘learns’ which documents are likely to be relevant and sifts through thousands, if not millions, of electronic documents automatically in a fraction of the time.
Meanwhile, legal transaction management software is only just coming into its own. Law firms are beginning to realise that there is a better way to manage legal transactions than by relying on whole teams of junior lawyers to handle the administrative burden. Instead, they are turning to software that allows direct collaboration between their lawyers, clients and opposing counsel on streamlined platforms freeing up junior lawyers to focus on value-added legal work and enabling greater client transparency on the deal.
Legal ‘technology leaders’ report increased profitability
We are only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of understanding the economic impacts of COVID-19 and as financial pressures grow, lawyers will increasingly need to look for ways in which they can reduce costs. The same Wolters Kluwer report found that, prior to the crisis, 62% of law firms that were ‘technology leaders’ had reported increased profitability while only 39% of ‘transitioning firms’ and just 17% of ‘trailing firms’ had reported the same. Adoption of highly specialised legal technology solutions will be key to lawyers being able to remain competitive in an increasingly price sensitive market.
A new legal landscape
The pandemic has brought about changes that are set to reconfigure the legal landscape. A stereotypically traditional industry has been pushed along the path of innovation and lawyers have adapted impressively. The best is yet to come for legal technology as lawyers acclimatise to new ways of working and rely on legal technology to meet competitive, client and financial demands.