For this year's legal tech trends, we reached out to top industry-related technologists, lawyers, and consultants. Our question was: What will be the most important legal technology trend for lawyers and legal professionals in 2021?” Read their answers below to set your law firm up for success in 2021 and beyond.
1. The Digital Revolution is Accelerating
Consumer behavior is shifting toward digital at an accelerated pace. It is those companies that embrace digital and meet clients where they are looking that will thrive in this new reality.
By this, we mean making sure you are accessible and discoverable using the new tools potential clients use for their research (like Google my Business). It is therefore imperative that your information is accurate and up-to-date.
2. Client Experience Should Be More Focused
The more convenient, seamless, and transparent the client experience is, the more cases law firms will have - both in terms of quantity and quality. Against the backdrop of companies such as DoorDash, Uber, Shopify, and Podium, will law firms evolve or become obsolete?
3. Raising The Bar For Communication
It is pretty obvious that meeting and communicating will never be the same even if the vaccine is on the way. In order to find new ways to engage with clients, lawyers need to pivot to find new ways to do so. Create seamless channels of communication for every step of the client engagement, from sales to invoicing.
4. The Automation of Basic Administrative Work
Legal professionals will need to be in sync with technology that makes the process of automating administrative work simpler in 2021. The legal industry continues to be bogged down by the need for people to perform work that can be handled more efficiently via good technology, despite sexier things like artificial intelligence and blockchain. In a world of one-to-one lawyer relationships, any technology that opens the door to a larger market for lawyers will be a game-changer.
5. Courts and Government Agencies are Becoming More Interested in Digital Interfaces
Lawyers who work regularly with courts and other federal government agencies should keep an eye on the providers of digital interfaces, both to and from legal professionals. COVID-19 has pushed many courts into online worlds they did not think they would be required to use and has stress-tested many systems (e.g. online unemployment applications). It would be beneficial to have more competition in the space, more open source adoption, and a better understanding of government purchasing decisions (such as data ownership).
6. A More Deliberate, Thoughtful Approach To Remote Work
In the wake of 2020, it will be crucial for legal professionals to embrace technologies that will streamline the workflow. To promote collaboration, mobility, virtual meetings, and working remotely, many firms took a ‘just make it happen’ approach. It is now time to revisit the tools law firms are using, and the training that legal professionals need to leverage technology, making the experience as good as-or better-than it was when everyone was in the office. Doing this right will yield a high ROI and will benefit the company in the coming years.
See Also Remote Work Works—Where Do We Go from Here?
7. Empathy As A Priority In Tech
It was evident in 2020 that human connections are important. There is a growing apprehension and anxiety among consumers today; they want responses to their concerns quickly, but also in an empathetic and compassionate way. Attorneys must now be always available for their clients, easing anxieties and capturing new business, while also managing their own lives.
The number of firms investing in solutions that provide a human touch has already grown, and expect that number to increase in 2021. Since attorneys are not available 24/7, it will be critical to identify a partner who will be able to act as your empathetic voice in the absence of you.
8. Improvements to Document Automation
Document automation is expected to be a major trend. The wet-ink signature is already a thing of the past; now lawyers need to move beyond wet-ink document preparation.
9. Legal Industry-Wide Adoption of Technology
The tide will turn against video conferences and remote hearings, depositions, mediations, etc. when the world (and particularly the courts) is reopened. However, this will only be temporary. The legal services will begin to feel the positive impacts of the tidal wave of technology adoption by the end of 2021. Getting it right will increase access to justice greater than anything we have ever seen before, and if done correctly, we will have opened the door for global, asynchronous legal proceedings. The future is not over for many legal consumers who have been barred from justice for reasons of financial, physical, intellectual, and emotional barriers.
10. Delivering Better Experiences With Technology
Technology is undoubtedly important, but by itself, it will not save a law practice. In order to provide the best client experience, lawyers who integrate technology with human service will have the greatest advantage.
11. Comfort With Non-Legal-Specific Technology
The biggest legal service providers technology trend in 2021 should be lawyers becoming comfortable with non-legal technology. Technology is just technology. We can still use it even though it wasn't specifically designed for lawyers.
12. Modernized Communication Methods
Increasingly, firms will upgrade their office phone systems to increase collaboration between distributed staff, as well as communication with clients and callers, from anywhere. Their practice management systems will be integrated with softphones, advanced features, and cloud-based systems. This trend will be complemented by their focus on being able to text with clients using a platform that allows everyone in the firm to participate as well as integrating with their PMS. The benefits (and ease!) of portals will be recognized (and increasingly encouraged) more than anything, and more firms will begin to use them on a regular basis.
13. Tracking Performance and Profitability Through Data
Toward the end of 2020, we have seen a growing number of requests for data and report building that makes it easier to identify what work is being accomplished, by whom, and how efficiently it can be answered questions like "How profitable is this practice law area or attorney?
A law firm realized that it could work with fewer staff in 2020. The company now wants to see if that translates into a greater profit in 2021. Not only will the technology capture the data but it will also generate reports that are informative and easy-to-understand to help measure these areas, which will lead to better decisions.
14. Innovation in Business Models
It is easier to think in terms of hopes rather than predictions, so here is what I hope happens: I hope we focus on business model innovation.
It sounds like a cop-out. Our laundry is not going to be done by robots with sexy faces. Innovation in business models lacks the same sparkly luster. Nevertheless, none of these other advancements will be possible if there are no skills to create new models.
A rethink of the customer value chain is the key reason for the "overnight successes" of the last decade. They rethought how to provide what people want, when they want it, with a great experience, not just buttons and lights. We need more imagination in the legal field.
Start small this year. Try something new. Designing Your Law Firm's New Normal suggests using brainstorming and model testing. Perhaps you can set the industries' expectations straight by creating habits that will inspire better performance.
The number one thing that will help the industry as regulations change and markets are opened is to rethink the way that what you offer fits with the needs of certain customers. Hopefully, we will all be crazy enough to think about it this year.
15. Cybersecurity Playing a Significant Role Among Lawyers
A key tech trend for lawyers in 2021 will be cybersecurity. With more and more work moving into an online or virtual format, the security of firms and clients' confidential information will become more important.
16. Improve Client Service With Video Conferencing
A pandemic will not put an end to video conferencing. Prospective clients prefer this method of communication because it eliminates the need to spend resources on meeting in person if they do not have to. Make sure to automate and disseminate your video conference links so you can ensure you present yourself professionally during the call by streamlining your video conference scheduling. Both of these factors can make the client's experience better, turning them into raving fans.
17. Subscription Law Services Supported By Technology
Law firms will increasingly use tech tools to support subscription-based billing and eliminate hourly billable hours.
18. Making Good Use of the Tools at Our Disposal
Using the tools we already have will be the most important trend. Throughout the year and a half following the pandemic, most firms will be struggling to recover economically. The result will be that firms must learn to get more value from the existing tools instead of looking for new ones in order to do more with less. In addition to belt-tightening, I hope that this will inspire more people to learn and train on everything from email, to case management, to Microsoft Word.
19. Baby Boomer Impact
All generations continue to be dominated by the baby boomers. Due to the high number of retirees, this process will affect all areas of the country and the workforce. This is also true in the legal industry. The 75 million members of this cohort will have a massive impact on the legal industry as well. Attorneys can expect an increase in demand for services in areas of the law, such as retirement planning and transferring assets to the next generation. The demand for legal fields can also increase. Despite where they live or what they do as they age, children want to protect their parents. If you need help navigating nursing homes, a lawyer can assist you. Keeping grandparent's assets intact can also help as they age.
See Also The 2021 State of the Legal Market Report
20. Electronic Discovery
There can be a great deal of complexity in legal procedures. There is no wonder that efforts are being made to streamline this process. All areas of the law have been affected by new technology this year, and it will continue to do so. This includes the field of discovery law. Both sides look for relevant items that pertain to a case during this process. Complexity can make this a time-consuming and effort-consuming process. Using e-discovery technology, each party to a legal case has access to the kind of technical support they need to make the process easier and less stressful. Currently, it is a two-billion-dollar industry. This year and in the future, revenues are expected to increase.
21. Legal Process Outsourcing
Lawyers everywhere hope to streamline the legal process and ensure all lawyers can perform their duties effectively. Several types of effective assistance exist. An increasing number of firms are using a process known as legal process outsourcing in the new year. By dividing up the law, we will be able to reduce all kinds of related expenses to the maximum extent possible. Many areas of law can be less expensive with the use of this type of legal assistance. Experts anticipate that this industry will earn over $35 billion in revenues by 2025. In the eyes of many insiders in the legal industry, this has created a new world of opportunity for those who can take advantage of it and fill the labor shortage that American and foreign lawyers face every day.
22. Change in the Hiring Process
In this year and beyond, there will be major disruptions in the hiring process. Getting now-lawyers on board will directly affect startups and establishments in the legal tech field. It includes those with expertise in sales, C-suit management, and process management.
The lawyers will focus on high-level, substantive tasks, while the non-lawyers will contribute to improving the work environment and introducing new ways to increase productivity.
How to Prepare for the Legal Tech Market?
To be successful in the present and future state of the market, two more ingredients are essential. As a result, let’s focus on the following two topics -
1.Identifying the challenges and opportunities
Legal software development offers many advantages, but understanding why you need them is crucial to getting the most out of it. As a result, you have to understand the challenges you are having with the traditional business processes, the opportunities you are missing, and how legal technologies can provide a solution.
An organization's business model can be determined by discussing it with its team, conducting a thorough market and competitor analysis, and thinking about its vision and mission.
2.Hiring the Right Legal Software Development Company
There are many companies that offer technology solutions to lawyers, but not all of them are the right choice. Each legal matter is different, so there should always be a tailor-made IT solution.
A number of factors, such as their experience, size, location, portfolio, and tech stack, should be evaluated when determining how to hire legal technology solutions providers.
See Also: BCG Jobs: Browse Attorney Jobs
It is time to look at how to enter the market successfully with all the revolutions that have come with law industry technology and its likely future.
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