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.
See the following articles:
- Why You Should (and Should Not) Quit the Practice of Law
- Why You Should Quit Practicing Law
- 15 Reasons You Should Not Quit the Practice of Law
- 15 Reasons Law Firm Attorneys Should Not Look for New Jobs
- Top 9 Reasons Attorneys Lose Law Firm Jobs
- Four Union-Like Rules of All Law Firms You Need to Know About
- Top 9 Ways for Any Attorney to Generate a Ton of Business
- Five Effective Strategies for Law Firm Partners to Get Business and Clients
- Should I Try and Get Business for My Firm or Should I Try to Bill More Hours?
- Making Rain: Ingredients for Success
- The Second-Best Way for a Law Firm Partner to Do Business Development
- The Importance of Portable Business
- Take This GIFT for Granted and Your Legal Career Will Be Dead
- What Law Firm Titles Mean: Of Counsel, Non-Equity Partner, Equity Partner Explained
- The Top 5 Long-Term Benefits of Remaining Employed with a Single Law Firm
- You Need to Be Connected With Others at Work
- Get Security by Concentrating on the Needs of Your Employer
- Production Assistants and Assessing Your Employer's Needs
- Treating Your Career Like a Small Business
- You Will Succeed in Your Job Search and Life When You Are Concerned With Giving and Not Taking
- Love People Who Give You Work and Love Your Work
- Which Type of Law Firm Is Best for You and Your Career: Main Offices of Large National Firms, Branch Offices of Large National Firms, Midsized Firms, Boutiques, or Newer Fast-Growing Firms?
- BCG Guide to Growth, Mergers, and Branch Offices
- Top 32 Reasons Attorneys Lose Their Jobs Inside of Law Firms
About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.
With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.
Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.
Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.
One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.
One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.
Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.
In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.
Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.
In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.
Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.