We live during a time of great technological change. Advances in the digital landscape have streamlined the complexities faced by businesses, and they have opened up opportunities for lawyers to innovate and to provide added value for clients. The expanded market coverage, substantial cost reductions, and competitive edge that technology presents have resulted in progressive changes in the way that the professional services industry conducts business.
No one feels this more than attorneys.
Big questions arise regarding the future of the legal profession: Is it able to adapt and sustain itself? And how does technology assist lawyers to innovate and move them into the new age?
Today, clients demand more value for the money they spend, and consequently, law firms are under incredible pressure to modernize to deliver more to maintain relevance in the market. In turn, offering services that are perceivably higher in value increases the firms’ competitiveness.
The New Legal Competitors
Traditional law firms that once controlled the industry are feeling the largest pains from digital disruption. They now compete with an entire horde of budding competitors who are using technology to gain significant ground. Most of these are DIY attorney websites that offer legal solutions that are often cheaper, faster, and fully transparent.
Yet the biggest challenge for traditional lawyers to innovate is the ability to quickly adapt to new technologies. Can lawyers consolidate their vast knowledge of the law with ever-changing digital capabilities and fast, easy online access? The increasing technological disruption has marked an important need for the modern legal office to continuously work on transforming its market presence if it wants to stay competitive in the industry.
How Lawyers Innovate and Benefit from Technology
Whether they are a large legal powerhouse, a boutique firm, or a one-man show, much of the daily work of any law firm is the monotonous effort of reading and preparing cases. And even if there are many associates working on the case, it is still time consuming. The paperwork can take numerous hours to days to complete.
That’s where technology comes in. Automation and machine learning are perfectly fitted for repetitive processing tasks at high volumes. Decrease the time it takes to draft responses and fulfill preliminary requests to a couple of minutes, compared to the usual six to eight hours.
Lawyers can develop legal documentation at revolutionary speeds.
What does this one benefit translate to? Happier clients. More accurate results. Consistent productivity. And cost savings.
Legal research is also getting an overhaul from the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Specifically, law firms are utilizing technology to understand and interpret the legal terminology used by lawyers in order to look up case law and statutes. This allows attorneys to assign the chore of reviewing contracts to a computer. Further technology develops intelligent contracts that can modify themselves based on a variable set of information.
Technology has further digitalized the storage of case law, statutes, and regulations. Attorneys can quickly and easily search statistics, cases, as well as non-legal sources such as newspapers and internet articles in order to provide a wider range of information.
Chat technology online has changed the way clients access legal information. Through an app on their smartphone, clients have the ability to ask legal questions and receive answers immediately. Standard questions are not answered by an actual lawyer, but by a computer.
A Different Business Model
Technology makes it so much simpler and cost-effective to accomplish day-to-day work, that firms now have the opportunity to direct their resources away from operational tasks to others that deliver greater value to clients.
Technology is profoundly shifting traditional attorney-client relations.
From a client’s point of view, they want to feel like they are receiving all they can from each dollar they spend. And they expect things to be easy. These days, people aren’t used to physically printing documents to sign. They don’t fill out forms by hand. No one pays bills by mailing a check. Instead, they fill out digital forms, e-sign them, and send payments all with a couple of clicks on their smartphones.
Easy-to-use technology solutions support these functions.
Law firms can also integrate software applications that offer instantaneous data to clients regarding their cases.
These digital solutions support clients and allow attorneys to engage with them throughout the life cycle. The results? Increased efficiency. Transparency. Satisfied outcomes. The benefits to legal offices are strong.
The biggest takeaway is the ability to meet and exceed client expectations. More and more, clients presume real-time access to information. They want to feel confident that their law firm is paying attention to them, that dealing with the firm is not a huge burden, and that the produced results meet their standards.
They also want to see the status of their case, including the fee charge data, case documentation, and any other paperwork involved.
In today’s digital world, the customer experience is on track to be the most important element that impacts a law firm’s success.
Technology has already transformed many industries, and those who have adapted have stayed on top and retained their edge of competitiveness. Slowly, technology has begun to restructure the way things work in the legal industry as well. And as other firms start to transition, the gap between those who will be relevant and those who won’t will widen.
Balancing the methods of the past with the wave of the future of technology within the law start with an open mindset and willingness to adapt to the changes in our digital society.
The benefits of adopting technology in one’s legal practice outweigh any potential downsides.
Now is the time for lawyers to innovate and fully embrace technology and use it to their advantage in order to stay relevant, get ahead of the competition, and empower the firm for success for the long term.