The Legal Technology Revolution
While the legal field has taken a measured approach to advancing technologically, especially in comparison with other types of industries, a perceptible shift has taken place in the past several years, and changed the way attorneys and firms are viewing legal technology.
Much of this can be attributed to improvements in the security and reliability of case automation software and other forms of legal technology. But it’s also an indication of the growing necessity for a more streamlined and progressive approach to practicing law.
Here are just a few ways this transition has revolutionized the legal industry, both for individual attorneys and their firms.
The Client Side
Historically, lawyers have leaned towards the traditional with regards to communicating with clients, doing research and running an office. Client expectations today, however, have pushed firms to become more technologically savvy in order to provide better service, as well as maintain a high level of organization.
In just under a decade, most firms have watched as phone calls have been replaced by emails; law libraries have been taken over by online research; business cards have been swapped for blogs; and old-fashioned computer hardware has been traded in for the private cloud.
All of this bodes well for clients, who insist on hiring a firm that functions on the same technological level as they do, and makes higher quality of service, faster response times and lowered costs a top priority.
The Attorney Angle
Few occupations require as much agility from their professionals as law, where attorneys typically keep more plates spinning at one time than even the most hardworking corporate executives. Nevertheless, legal technology has done a lot for lawyers who implement its use into their practice, taking plates that would otherwise be more administrative, and transforming them into something more related to their profession.
The mobility of legal technology has probably had the greatest impact of all. Between running to client meetings, court and working out of a home and office, attorneys have needed a way to access case files and communications while on the go. To answer that need, companies like Abacus Data Systems have included remote access and mobile synchronization with their practice management software to ensure simplified document sharing and retrieval from any device wherever there’s an internet connection.
Outside of strictly law-related technologies, other technological advancements have allowed attorneys to conduct training webinars, provide better billing services and reach a new audience of potential clients through social media.
The Law Firm Perspective
Among all the benefits available to law firms utilizing various forms of legal technology, one of the more advantageous is collaboration between other lawyers and legal staff. Through instant messaging and document sharing among assigned users, professionals both inside and outside the office can work together on moving a case forward, thus avoiding operational bottlenecks and improving overall productivity.
Another advantage of having case automation software in the firm is for reporting, which is sometimes overlooked as a valuable tool in appraising a firm’s performance, reviewing upcoming matters and analyzing trends in efficiency. If reporting isn’t already part of the way you do business, instant rewards are only a few clicks away.
It should also be mentioned that as much as productivity is positively affected on an individual basis for staff, what technology is doing for the entire firm as a whole is unprecedented when it’s compared to traditional methods of getting things done around the office in support of clients. And as law firms become more productive, they open themselves up to more client availability, as well as testing the waters in new areas of law practice.
Yet, even with all of these benefits, we can expect to see new trends in technology occurring over the next several years. Primarily their aim will be to provide the entire legal ecosystem with even more ways to achieve their goals, and become better lawyers and law firms who more effectively serve their clients.