49% of law firms say they’re currently using technology effectively, while 47% plan on improving their adoption of technology, a recent report from Wolters Kluwer reveals. 50% of firms consider themselves “technology leading” and ready to meet the industry’s new technological demands. While in the past, lawyers have been hesitant to embrace new technologies, benefits such as improved productivity, efficiency, and cyber security, along with affordable costs, are paving the road for widespread technology adoption throughout the industry.
1. Cloud Migration
Law firms are increasingly adopting cloud-based software. 78% of law firms store client data in the cloud, while 8% intend to migrate to the cloud in the near future. In fact, most law firms already use hosted email and document management systems (DMS) to communicate and collaborate in their daily operations. From here, migrating practice management to the cloud is a natural next step. Cloud adoption has a number of benefits for law firms. Most notably, affordable and easily accessible cloud hosting and SaaS solutions are an appealing alternative to traditionally relying on expensive IT and support teams to maintain in-house data centers and software. In turn, IT resources can then be better dedicated to higher-value tasks such as strengthening security and various systems. Additionally, cloud migration is now increasingly even demanded by clients, who desire tighter collaboration and transparency with their firms — this is only feasible with cloud-based technology.
Cloud products for law firms are also quickly beginning to rival on-premise software’s robust and flexible features and functions. Such features allow firms to play around with customization and configuration until the product fits their unique needs. Traditional servers with their tools, operating systems, and patch releases are time-intensive and expensive for firms to maintain. Cloud products put an end to this problem, as server and operating system maintenance is usually included in the initial cost.
2. Minimizing cloud cyber security concerns
While cyber security concerns may have prevented faster adoption of cloud technology in the recent past, SaaS solutions have implemented tighter security standards, while cloud providers like Google, Microsoft and Apple are on-hand to lend their security expertise to help firms tackle any problems. In the same vein, around 60% of all businesses now use cloud services — which include clients who typically work in sectors that deal with sensitive data like trade secrets, customer details, and financial information. That means that clients who may initially have been hesitant about working with a legal firm using cloud products are now comfortable with it, and even expect it. Multi-tenancy (co-locating data in a public cloud) has also been a concern for law firms in the past. Such data can typically include the exact geographic location, along with the associated jurisdiction. Fortunately, now, however, private cloud products have been developed to make multi-tenancy a thing of the past.
3. Workflow automation
Automation via software platforms helps law firms streamline their work process by performing daily yet repetitive and time-consuming tasks. In turn, this frees up lawyers or administrative employees to focus on more important work. Automation is expected to lower the cost of IT operations by as much as 30%. In particular, law firms are commonly using automation to author legal documents. By combining templates with relevant data, data can instantly be imported and document fields completed — therefore eliminating the time-consuming need for it to be done manually, along with the risk of human error. Accounts receivable (A/R) are also benefiting from automation. Automated A/R platforms ensure that bills are sent in a timely manner, which means your cash flow is kept continually healthy. Administrative staff are also no longer burdened with invoices, which allows them to take care of other tasks to help optimize workflow. It’s common for law firms to have a more complex billing processes with different rates for different clients — automation makes it easy to keep track of correct billing, and again removes the opportunity for human error.
Every good law firm understands that each client is unique and requires strong and effective relationship building — especially for high-stakes cases such as legal malpractice, medical malpractice, sexual abuse, birth injury, or another injury case, explains JJS Justice. Now, client intake can be automated to improve and enhance the onboarding process for both law firms and clients. In turn, this decreases time spent on manual administrative tasks, and increases time spent on billable hours. For example, a comprehensive form builder can draw up the right document for each unique client, and then integrate it perfectly with the practice management platform. From personal injury to divorce to fraud, automation can create a tailored form for each case that records all relevant data — no need for you or your staff to get involved. You can therefore get back to more important tasks that help your clients.
4. Emerging marketplaces
Emerging marketplaces created specifically for legal technologies are another development for the legal sector; they’re essentially helping to break down any barriers or resistance to technological adoption by law firms. These marketplaces function as an effective way for law firms to verify the trustworthiness and reputation of the tech products available on the market, helping them make an informed purchase decision. In fact, Spain is currently home to more than twenty of these marketplaces. Moreover, some marketplaces even make it possible to connect lawyers with clients. For example, elAbogado.com is a Spanish marketplace that recently received an $800,000 investment, while UpCounsel is an American marketplace that has garnered more than $20 million in investments. Marketplaces make it possible for the industry’s best technology offerings to be featured together in one place, and make it easier for law firms to compare prices and implement these highly-specialized products in as little time, and with as little hassle, as possible.
Innovative new technology is undoubtedly transforming the legal sector at a rapid pace. Cloud migration, workflow automation, and emerging marketplaces are just some of the latest technological developments helping to bring the legal industry into the 21st century.