Innovation in Legal Technology

Faced with increasing competition and client demands of more for less, many legal firms have accelerated the drive to adopt technology to help differentiate themselves, provide more value to clients, and to make the business more efficient. And significantly, these new technologies – when used smartly - are allowing the more innovative, ‘challenger’ firms to compete with the larger players.
 
Digital Office

The legal profession has always gone hand in hand with producing vast amounts of paperwork and this all requires time-consuming distribution, filing, referencing, storage and retrieval. The move to digitize documents allows for much cheaper, non-physical storage, ease and speed of retrieval and the ability to remotely access files. E-files are easier to share with clients and other lawyers, and intelligent, e-discovery technology allows sensitive information to be redacted quickly and securely.
 
Going Mobile

Embracing mobile technology allows lawyers to work remotely, enables hot-desking and is a step closer to ‘agile’ working. Smart devices will be used more for mobile (secure) access; video conferencing, using services such as Skype Business, allows digital face time where time, distance and travel costs are prohibitive; and web-based communications are allowing firms to share documents digitally with clients for them to electronically annotate, sign and return. Client office visits can then be reserved for more value-added matters.
 
In the Cloud

Cloud-based technology is becoming increasingly familiar to legal firms as it offers quick, easy and inexpensive file-share solutions. It has already had an impact in some single task areas such as e-billing, time tracking and document management. Now second-generation solutions are already in use by some and offer a more integrated approach for all of these functions by using a fully-fledged, web-based solution, generally known as ‘Software-as-a-Service’ (SaaS).
 
Integrated Solutions

SaaS solutions have seen a sharp increase in development and offer the full integration of document automation and management, e-discovery, research and collaboration tools, and decisions engines. They offer a seamless solution to unify communications, increase accuracy, provide greater networking capabilities and to reduce overheads.  And trending industry concepts such as ‘Big Data’ and unstructured databases will allow vendors to provide more robust, higher performance, and increasingly feature-rich applications.
 
Legal robots

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived - not in the shape of legal robots, but with help in such areas as due diligence and contract review. These more mundane tasks – that nonetheless require lawyer time - are ripe for automation – and AI predictive coding software is able to learn the review process, and can then make decisions about what is relevant. Manual review can be a highly time-consuming process, so this type of AI technology can substantially reduce lawyer time and the associated costs.
 
Embracing change

Advances in, and the use of, legal technology are becoming more urgent, as innovative firms respond to increasing competition and the need to create business efficiencies. The ability to use technology smartly, to reduce much of the mundane workload, to manage costs and to free lawyers’ time to focus on client service, is key. Those firms that embrace this technology as a core competency will be able to leverage the benefits significantly and stand to gain a real competitive advantage.