The upheaval and uncertainty of the pandemic sparked digital innovation across industries, including the slow-to-change legal space. Recent legal tech innovations include e-discovery platforms, cloud-based case management systems, and regulatory technology. These tools help the most innovative legal professionals deliver more with less.
Historically, legal professionals relied on outside factors for all things tech, but a growing number are investing in legal technology initiatives separate from service delivery. This fosters an environment of independence that ultimately helps avoid any confusion or delays when meeting client needs with tech-based tools.
The future of legal tech innovation is all about the customer. Legal professionals who can pursue digital ventures in-house will deliver better value and improved experiences for their clients. This is what consumers expect. According to Clio’s 2020 “Legal Trends Report,” 37% of consumers prefer meeting their lawyers for the first time via videoconferencing technology, and 69% want to share documents electronically.
Meeting modern demand is the key to survival. However, 97% of legal professionals struggle to secure sufficient IT budgets, and 41% lack the expertise needed to convince stakeholders that digitalization is necessary, according to EY’s 2021 “CEO Imperative Study.” In the end, those that prioritize digital innovation will thrive; those that forgo it will suffer from a competitive disadvantage.
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Digital Innovation in the Legal Industry
Compared to other industries, the legal space has been reluctant to embrace new technologies. In one study looking at the use of big data, the legal industry lagged behind even the ultraconservative financial sector. Moving forward, this resistance to change will rapidly erode as new digital ventures spark significant disruption and innovation in legal firms. Here are some ways legal professionals can use digital innovation to serve clients better:
1. Simplify interactions.
The most effective legal technology prioritizes people. When a digital innovation department identifies opportunities, it looks at who will be using the final product. One area of law that’s ripe for technological improvement is internal and external communication and collaboration. Physical documents gave way to fax machines and later email, but new platforms offer collaborative workspaces with secure file sharing and instant interactions between legal professionals and their clients.
Professionals can explore various existing tools, including Lupl (a legal matter collaboration platform and a client of ours) and Legaler (a videoconferencing tool for attorneys and lawyers). Alternatively, they can evaluate existing internal platforms or tools to see what pain points still exist and what problems remain unsolved.
2. Base decisions on data.
In 2018, the Caselaw Access Project from Harvard Law School digitized more than 6.5 million U.S. cases — some of which date back hundreds of years. Analytics tools can use this digital treasure trove and other case aggregators to help predict the outcome of future cases. Some solutions even look at certain judges’ legal decisions to identify and predict their potential rulings on future cases.
Analytics technology is the key to improved success in the future — to the point that one prominent lawyer from Massachusetts has suggested not using analytics could someday be considered malpractice. Legal professionals can explore technology options such as Lex Machina (a platform that breaks down courtroom trends) and Intraspexion (a product that helps uncover potential litigation risks). If legal professionals can’t find exactly what they need, they can work with third-party partners to create custom solutions. For example, Frogslayer helped Momus Analytics build its jury selection tool.
3. Automate tedious tasks.
According to LawGeex data, more than one-third of the $1 billion invested in legal technology in 2018 went to companies looking to harness the power of artificial intelligence. Considering AI can automate the most tedious and time-consuming legal tasks, perhaps this isn’t surprising. By augmenting and supporting legal professionals’ roles, AI frees up precious time to work on more complex problems that require a human touch.
This kind of technology helps lawyers and attorneys improve their workflows. For instance, Proofpoint reduces the amount of time it takes professionals to complete comprehensive, defensible discoveries using small or large datasets. Improvements in machine learning and artificial intelligence technology are making it easier than ever for legal professionals to do their jobs.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why the legal industry has historically been reluctant to embrace technology. Some professionals say it’s because of its traditional operating methods, while others credit compliance and regulatory concerns with the holdup. No matter the reason, one thing is clear: As more legal professionals turn to digital innovation to help them overcome client-related challenges, those that don’t change their ways will struggle to compete.