In the wake of the Great Recession, legal technology, known as LegalTech, became a critical tool — or, rather, a series of tools — for handling challenges and opportunities unique to legal professionals and the entire legal field. Through innovative and unique practices and technologies, this sub-field quickly made itself a powerful vehicle for helping professionals in all sectors of the law field do their jobs even better.
In the decade plus since that time, LegalTech has proven itself as a necessary field, providing pivotal technology solutions to the people who need them the most.
Of course, crises in the legal field and beyond didn’t end with the economic downturn of 2008. In light of the pandemic, LegalTech has even broader implications and potential impact, helping legal teams resolve issues and conduct practices remotely, more efficiently.
What is LegalTech?
Legal technology, in its simplest terms, is an umbrella term for the software and other technology solutions used to support and streamline legal services at law firms and related businesses and organizations in the sector. The tools assist professionals and clients with undertaking many different types of legal operations.
LegalTech utilizes new technologies and processes, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, automation, cloud technology, big data, and more, all toward the goal of making the law industry and related industries more accessible, efficient, profitable, and collaborative.
The are numerous use cases and sectors within LegalTech, which encompasses a vast array of services, functionalities, and specialties. Some of the areas to which these tools, technologies, and practices are most frequently applied include:
- Accounting and billing
- Client services
- Communication, such as via legal chatbots
- Contract management and smart contracts
- Document management, centralization, and storage
- Document review
- General management systems
- Template creation
- Workflow facilitation
How can LegalTech help your business?
So, how, exactly, can LegalTech apply to businesses in the real world? Here are some examples of what it can do.
It can streamline workflows
Aided by automation, LegalTech tools can streamline a wide variety of processes, from legal research to creating templates for clients to document review to billing. This is facilitated in a much less time-consuming way than it would be manually, and it will cut down on the labor and expense needed.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can help you identify critical information in a variety of practices and procedures. Ultimately, law firms benefit from these automated systems in multiple respects.
It provide business intelligence
Legal technology companies, like any business in practically every sector imaginable, must stay informed about how they are performing as an organization. LegalTech offers transparency and means of providing insights in real time through resource management software, reports, and dashboards, which offer critical information and analytics pertaining to profitability, operations, costs, budgets, and much more.
This information can be applied to improve a variety of operations and better understand the impact their measures are having.
It facilitates project and case management
Legal cases, for all intents and purposes, are projects that require project management tools just like anything else. Legal technology companies offer solutions for legal practice management, including time-tracking tools, boards that provide overviews of projects, and more. You can assign responsibilities, prioritize tasks, communicate, and set deadlines through this type of software, improving and giving more oversight to your workflow.
Provide a Repository for Storing Information
Law practices handle an abundance of sensitive information every day. These firms need to have secure repositories for centralizing and storing this data — tools that are easily accessible for information retrieval.
Enable Remote Work
Even before the pandemic, many businesses, include those in the legal industry, were leveraging tools for remote work, as they increasingly allowed employees to work outside of the office. Today, LegalTech technologies, particularly cloud-based tools, are the response to the need for platforms that facilitate the ability to work from home.
Improve the Client Experience
Of course, at the end of the day, law practices seek to provide a high-quality client experience. Legal technology is the answer to this. Clients have greater transparency and ability to manage their information and documents, view bills, track updates, and even find lawyers and legal professionals to help them handle their cases.
One example is legal chatbots, which can manage rote tasks that don’t require the intervention of a human specialist. They can answer questions and address increasingly intricate matters, freeing up time for humans to conduct more specialized tasks.
What are lawyers looking for in these solutions?
Of course, without strong cybersecurity, these powerful tools are for naught. Legal professionals demand safe technologies to aid them in their practices because they are so frequently dealing with highly sensitive information that requires privacy.
Efficiency is the goal of many a legal professional. These individuals are extremely busy and need tools and technologies that help them streamline complicated workflows. Many LegalTech tools automate the more time-consuming processes and offer even more powerful insights that they wouldn’t have gleaned through manual labor.
Moreover, they can completely transform processes that previously required intervention, such as billing.
Legal professionals are also seeking tools that will allow them to afford clients some independence when dealing with critical matters and cases. While the attorney will always be available to provide the client with guidance, there are numerous products that can aid them, helping clients understand the complexities of the issues involved in their cases, manage key documents and information, and have their questions answered in real time.
Tools that facilitate collaboration, between colleagues, law professionals, and clients, are critical for the legal landscape. LegalTech offers solutions for individuals to work together in real time.
Perhaps digital transformation isn’t the first thing many people think of when it comes to law firms. However, legal software is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bringing the legal industry into the current age. There are numerous software solutions available to help streamline operations, simplify processes, and ultimately add greater value to legal businesses and organizations of all types.
Increasingly, legal professionals are looking for greater transparency and stronger solutions for handling their caseloads and meeting the needs of their clients — and digital transformation will help facilitate this, through cost-effective, cutting-edge solutions.
Barriers to Tech Solutions
Lack of Information Available
One problem with adopting LegalTech is that many legal professionals simply aren’t aware that the solutions exist or what they are capable of doing. Or, if they are, they may not understand factors like the cost involved, the benefits of the tools, what it takes to deploy them, and how they relate to the legal industry in particular.
Deficiency in Skills and Qualifications for Using LegalTech
Some businesses may be aware that the tools exists and they benefits they offer but aren’t familiar with how to use them most effectively.
That’s why increasingly, law firms and related organizations are turning to legal technology companies or even in-house specialists to help them adopt these technologies at their practices.
Cybersecurity Holes and Concerns
Cybersecurity is a huge concern, what with the uptick in criminal activities like ransomware attacks, data breaches, and hacking. It’s natural for law firms to be concerned when leveraging new technology.
It’s important for law practices to ask plenty of questions and thoroughly review the measures legal technology companies will take when ensuring that their platforms — and entire businesses — are secure.
Lack of Buy-In
Even after being educated about and understanding the benefits and solutions the umbrella field of LegalTech provides, some legal professionals and companies may still be hesitant about adopting these tools. The field of law has been around for centuries, so some of the resistance to “new trends,” if you will, could come from a reluctance to interfere with processes and procedures that have seemingly work thus far.
While it’s a fair argument, it’s still important to recognize that legal technology won’t replace humans in the field — too much of the practice depends on human intelligence, knowledge, and intuition, which even artificial intelligence can’t broach. Instead, it will enable these professionals to do their jobs even better, providing tools that equip them with powerful advantages.
LegalTech is set to completely overhaul the law industry, offering unprecedented solutions during unprecedented circumstances like the pandemic. With proper implementation and maintenance, this rapidly growing field is set to facilitate digital transformation throughout the field.