What will it take to be a successful law firm in 2022? As the world is not yet over with the pandemic and the industries worldwide are dealing with its consequences, it’s now more important than ever for lawyers to stay acquainted with legal technology trends that they should consider adopting in their private practice, or for their firms.
Before we delve deeper into the top legal technology trends in the market, it’s pertinent to understand what this technology is, and its importance. This technology is comprised of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain technology, and automation that can be used to provide quick and effective legal services, as well as can help lawyers reduce the burdensome responsibility of regulatory and compliance issues. The technology used in the legal sector is referred to as LegalTech, and law technology (Law tech).
Historically, LegalTech has been used to refer to the conventional law firm technology employed for accounting, management, billing, and document storage purposes. However, over the past few years, the legal sector has witnessed some major changes, driven by numerous factors including innovation in LegalTech tools and increasing client demand for transparency, and digitalization of the process. Undoubtedly, in the past couple of years, this shift has further accelerated due to the onset of the pandemic. Law firms are trying to adjust what is now called a “new normal” by adopting legal technology such as the use of the cloud for storing confidential documents, automation software for contract reviews, data analytics and other digital tools that are easy to use without developer’s support. Gartner, an IT research and consultancy company predicted that in 2025 the legal department will increase their spending on employing legal technology threefold. In their report, they highlighted the importance of LegalTech tools. They believe that increased workload can compromise efficiency in absence of technology. This means that lawyers should improve their processes by adopting digitalization strategies to support their growing workload.
With each passing day, technology is growing smarter, and so are the expectations of the clients. LegalTech is the only choice left for many law firms to stay competitive in the market. To find the top trending LegalTech tools that attorneys need to know, along with addressing a question that sat at the forefront of every legal professional’s mind: “What is the most useful LegalTech tool that I should get for myself?” We have researched and jotted down the answers below for lawyers and legal professionals to employ and follow the most important legal technology trends of 2022.
1. Artificial Intelligence
AI is gaining momentum in virtually all industries, and lawyers are realizing the worth of AI for managing routine-based tasks. The most obvious benefit of AI software is its time-saving feature. Computer software can process more information, and more thoroughly than humans can, within a fraction of the time. AI software is equipped with an earlier risk assessment feature, which can be used to review information, identify risks so that clients can be advised before the legal problem occurs. With the use of AI, law firms can reduce costs, perform better, and efficiently protect their clients.
Law firms must use this technology in managing their contracts digitally and for automatic reviews. As data volume is expanding, firms need to use AI to streamline data management and complement the manpower to boost the filing and storage process for a better client experience.
Data security should be the top priority of a lawyer, and that’s why clients trust attorneys with their most confidential information. For a law firm, it’s important to keep data secure, otherwise, a breach of security can be a potential risk for your firm, resulting in negative consequences for you, and your clients.
Not having stringent cybersecurity measures in place, criminals and hackers can easily access valuable information including intellectual property, trade secrets, personally identifiable information (PII), and confidential attorney-client-privileged data. The National Cyber Security Centre reported that sixty per cent of law firms had to face information breaches. Nowadays, cybercrime is on the rise, especially after the lawyers have shifted over to remote or hybrid lawyering. Hence, it’s important to implement a robust data security policy at your firm by educating employees and enforcing protocols such as using two-factor authentication for logins and only using mobile applications recommended and vetted by your law firm.
Legal automation in the law does not mean replacing attorneys with machines. It is a process to simplify and shift manual tasks from humans to robots. Automation offers solutions to redundant and repetitive tasks, thereby diminishing administrative costs, and providing space for lawyers to take up important work that can bring value to the firm. One important piece of advice for those thinking to adopt automation software is to evaluate the value of tasks that needs to be automated. As a law firm, you should think about tasks that consume the precious time of your lawyers, are repetitive in nature and require little skill. Also, you can make use of LegalTech tools to perform the tasks that you hate the most. A Legal Trend Report, 2019 stated that an average legal professional works only 2.5 hours of client-facing work per day. It depicts that attorneys spend a considerable amount of time doing administrative tasks that fail to utilise their expertise, which can be done more accurately by a machine.
Automation is becoming increasingly popular within the legal sector as firms are now recognizing its efficiency to boost tasks and reduce expenses. Reducing manual work and monotonous tasks, easy handling of records are the key areas reported by firms that made them embrace this technology.
4. Alternative Legal Services
Alternative Legal Services has gained greater momentum in 2022. They have equipped both corporate lawyers and law firms with specialized skillsets at a lesser cost that allow their clients to take up higher priority work. Alternative Legal Services are solution sellers, delivering legal tasks and processes to boost efficiency. From legal professionals to boutique law firms are outsourcing basic tasks to these service providers because they can complete tasks quickly and provide solutions at a lower cost. A report published by Thomson Reuters in 2021, concluded that the use of Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) market in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia is currently valued at $14 billion, with E-Discovery solutions being the dominant service, increasingly used by the law firms.
Adopt Legal Technology
Digitalization is sweeping nearly every industry, and law is no exception. Clients are increasingly employing digital tools in their legal practices, and law firms are becoming comfortable with using different types of technology. Because of the numerous benefits that can be drawn from them by streamlining workflows, improving client communication, and enhancing work-life balance.