2022 brings a new start, but a world still dealing with the ongoing pandemic. Law firms looking to adjust to the “new normal” are looking toward legal technology trends to address client demand and continue with growth.
The speed and flexibility of the cloud, automation, and other tools allow law firms to deploy solutions without developer support or long wait times for IT. According to Gartner, the legal and technology predictions for 2022 include the notion that the legal department will automate over 50 percent of legal work for key business transactions.
With increasingly capable technology and evolving client expectations, legal technology is the best choice for many law firms to stay competitive. These 7 legal technology trends are a must for law firms to see success in 2022.
What is Legal Technology?
Before we dive into the legal technology trends, it’s important to understand what this technology is. Legal technology uses new technologies, from artificial intelligence to automation to blockchain technology, to deliver more efficient and effective legal services.
In the past, legal technology was used to refer to law firm technology for practice management, billing, document storage, or accounting. Being a traditional industry, law firms weren’t quick to adopt these solutions and preferred the tried-and-true methods.
Legal technology has come a long way in a short time, however. Now, legal technology can be used to adapt a law firm to the modern challenges of practicing in a post-pandemic world and delivering better, faster, and more comprehensive services to clients. It also enhances the lives of lawyers with remote work opportunities, constant connectivity, better timekeeping and billing, and more.
Digital transformation is sweeping industries everywhere, and it’s found its way to law. Consumers are moving toward digital, and law firms need to get onboard to reach clients where they want to be.
At the least, law firms should make sure they’re discoverable on search engines and business sites, such as Google My Business, and that all the information is current and accurate. Clients are using search to find law firms, so it’s vital for law firms to keep that information relevant.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a lucrative technology in virtually all industries, and law firms are realizing the value of AI for managing day-to-day tasks. Data volume is expanding, so law firms must use technology to streamline data management and improve the client experience.
In fact, according to Zion Market Research, the global AI legal technology market is poised to generate over $37 billion by 2026. With AI, law firms can be free of mundane, repetitive tasks and focus on client and legal practice.
Cybercrime is on the rise, especially in the legal sector. As law firms shift from in-person to a remote or hybrid work environment, more and more sensitive information is at risk from a hack or breach from bad actors.
According to a report from the National Cyber Security Centre, over 60 percent of law firms reported an information breach. Law firms have a lot of sensitive business and client data and are increasingly moving toward remote systems and cloud-based storage, so it’s more important than ever for them to protect data with rigorous cybersecurity measures.
Workflow automation is a valuable tool for law firms to stay productive. Oftentimes, law firm management and leadership are tasked with non-legal work, such as marketing, client communications, and accounting and billing, which takes away from billable time working on client cases.
Automation is already popular for law firms, but it’s likely to increase in 2022 to improve efficiency and lower expenses. Legal automation technology can handle many repetitive tasks, such as billing and invoicing.
Like the rest of the business world, the legal industry is expected to shift to a more client-focused approach in 2022. Clients want more remote legal solutions, such as meeting with lawyers over a video call.
Clients are also interested in diversity, sustainability, and inclusion in future-focused law firms. Adopting remote processes and a hybrid work model allows law firms to widen the talent pool and bring in talent from more diverse backgrounds, as well as providing better learning and development opportunities.
In addition, practice management systems allow legal teams to text with clients via the platform, automate emails, and access client information from anywhere with an internet connection. Now, lawyers who work in the field, whether at client lunches or at the courthouse, can keep to a schedule and speak with clients when it matters most.
Lawyers often have to contact courts and other government agencies, and digital interfaces are offering opportunities to streamline this process. While there’s only a small number of vendors providing these solutions at this time, the pandemic has pushed governments and courts to a more digital approach to address these needs in remote environments.
Along with a client-focus, modern clients are more anxious than ever and want fast responses to questions and concerns from legal teams. Instead of searching the internet, clients are looking for attorneys who are available and ready to answer questions and provide comfort with case stress.
This puts considerable strain on lawyers, but many law firms are investing in solutions that deliver this type of service. To promote work-life balance, law firms are adopting partner organizations with 24/7 website and phone access to help clients when lawyers and legal teams aren’t available.
Adopt Legal Technology
Though traditional in its approach, the legal industry is becoming more and more comfortable with automation, remote hearings, video conferences, and other technology offerings that improve client communications streamline workflows, and enhance work-life balance.
Done correctly, legal technology can remove existing barriers and have a positive impact on the legal industry.
©2006-2022, BILL4TIME. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 5