Legal Technology: What Is It and How Does It Help?
Jun 08, 2021 04:13 PM EDT
Legal technology refers to the use of technology and software in the provision of legal services. In 2018, the legal technology industry experienced a whirlwind of changes as news broke about Avvo's sale to Internet Brands. Since then, legal tech news has been all over, and for good reasons. The developments have presented an opportunity for various reputable firms to improve overall efficiency to adapt to an agile working environment.
Legal tech also allows smaller firms to compete with the big brands in the field. It provides access to high-end and reliable research tools. On a large scale, this technology has influenced the traditional legal market in a big way. Legal tech has made it possible for the public to access justice with ease, sometimes without involving a lawyer. It also connects the public to lawyers through matching services and online marketplaces.
Importance of Legal Technology
The legal industry is risk-averse, which explains why it has been slow to adopt technology solutions. Just a few years ago, there were hardly any companies that provided legal technology solutions. However, the landscape is changing, and the numbers have increased over the past few years. Legal technology has gained traction, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because its onset made it hard for many people to access legal services.
Some factors that have played a role in driving innovation in the legal services market include:
Forced innovation: legal technologies have commoditized most of the available law solutions. Consequently, the legal profession has had no choice but to become creative in innovation.
Costs: the legal industry has always been faced with high expectations of value for legal fees paid. In-house departments are also under great scrutiny for the amount they spend on legal services.
Scrutiny by regulators: Regulators in many jurisdictions aggressively scrutinize legal service providers to ensure they don't pose themselves as channels of committing crimes.
As such, by embracing legal technology, legal workers have increased their efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, they now have the data to help them plan future operational strategies.
Experts in legal technology also give their views on the transformation that the advancements have brought to the legal industry.
Ian Brady, the Project Manager at Steadfast Solutions, feels that legal technology is such a unique match between the two industries. Both sectors can now focus on the delivery of professional services. They also can effectively track their time inputs in their respective fields. Brady notes that contract profitability is crucial to this integration as any MSP product must bring out the customer service perspective.
Brady notes that his company's software solutions provide features that cater to the sensitivity of IT reporting and task management. His company has in the past assisted a law firm with an MSP product for contract management and time billing.
Enhanced Data Management
According to Matt Bullock, VP of Technical Sales at Accelera IT Solutions, legal technology has improved the data management process in law firms. The legal profession has constantly demonstrated a need to be on the front line of advancing technology. By embracing these advancements, there has been an improvement in the management of incredible amounts of paper. Besides, companies in the legal sector have been able to segment and track evidence while managing case flow and their accounts receivable.
Artificial intelligence software has made it possible for law firms to sort through large quantities of data. Consequently, they are now in a better position to determine patterns and turn up new angles on existing evidence for trials and client support. Additionally, AI has made it possible to reduce the chances of making errors with court documents. Mistakes can be costly to a law firm, especially when erroneous data is presented to the court.
With this technology in place, small and mid-sized companies can now take on bigger cases and serve more profitable clients.
Accelera's leadership is well-versed in the legal technology industry. The company's CTO, Randy O'Donnell, spent 22 years as the CTO of the largest Arizona-based law firm. During his tenure, he implemented many state-of-the-art technologies to improve client service, increase revenue and assist partners in their legal cases.
Faster Processing of Cases
Legal technology has enabled law firms to utilize artificial intelligence in more than one way. For example, it's now easier for attorneys to search for evidence at a much faster pace than they previously could by using human-based processes. These thoughts are from Nick Allo, Director of SEMTech IT Solutions.
Ilan Sredni, CEO and President of Palindrome Consulting, shares similar views. He notes that all court appearances now happen via video conference, and an attorney no longer needs to be physically present in court. This not only saves time but also improves cost-efficiency. Furthermore, record keeping and maintaining digital records has become a new business since discovery is no longer about only looking at physical files.
Increased Geographical Reach
The use of technology has increased the geographical reach of most law firms. With some legal services having been commoditized, it's now possible for law firms to provide them across borders, all thanks to technology. For example, where contract law is applicable across jurisdictions, a client can easily download a basic contract from any location on a drop-down menu.
As such, law firms that make good use of legal technology can potentially increase their market size. By leveraging technology, they will quickly fuel their growth.
Legal technology has played a role in creating transparency in the industry. Clients have better access to their cases and can comfortably follow the progress. They also have better information about legal fees and other pertinent information. The industry is now more client-centric than ever, which bodes well for the overall industry.
Embracing Legal Technology Solutions
Law firms that embrace legal technology have a lot to gain. It helps them leverage their time by handling more client cases than they regularly would. Besides, legal tech increases transparency and helps companies to expand their geographical reach. Whether in the form of enabler technologies, process support solutions, or substantive law technology, legal tech has helped reshape the industry.