• Tuesday, December 05, 2023
businessday logo


5 Legal Trends still shaping 2022

Law firms are now thinking more like businesses than they did a generation ago. They are hungry to invest in technology to overcome the challenges of increased workflows and productivity demands on smaller budgets. Although, legal tech is not a silver bullet, organizations that have integrated legal technology into their operations report increased profitability. In this post, we explore five top legal technology trends still shaping the industry.

1. Automation

Lawyers have historically pored over troves of documents. Fortunately, mundane and routine tasks are now ripe for automation that streamlines their work. Automation is already being used in legal research, e-discovery (searching for digital evidence to be used in court), and document review. And the possibilities to move beyond what can be achieved already are immense.

Legacy software modernization, such as those for document automation, is becoming standard practice. Simplifying the drafting of high-frequency, low-complexity contracts and allowing clients to sign them digitally can save lawyers time. Furthermore, vital admin tasks and workflows that law practices must grapple with daily, such as organizing and tracking progress and regulatory changes, data collection, reporting, and communication can be transformed by the use of good technology.

Manual processes can never be as efficient as automation at simple, repetitive tasks, and legal departments are finding the most efficiency gains in these areas where they can standardize processes.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation often get used interchangeably, but they are slightly different. Whereas automation broadly refers to tech replacing human labour to perform predictable, rote work, AI substitutes for more complex interpersonal duties, such as problem-solving, perception, and human planning. AI complements human intelligence much like your project management triangle.

AI hasn’t yet had the promised transformative effect in the legal industry, yet there is no inherent reason why these applications won’t become mainstream. Today’s artificial intelligence systems can keep learning. Machine learning is a subset of AI that can digest vast volumes of text and voice conversations, identify patterns and carry out impressive feats of predictive modelling. As well as finding privileged documents, AI can analyze contracts to check for missing terms. It also enables lawyers to extract powerful insights from data that can uncover critical evidence for case-building and litigation strategies. Another use case is supporting law firms with investigations and detecting red flags and anomalies to mitigate risks.

Technology is maturing; people are still figuring out how best to apply machine learning to the sector. At present, AI is transforming B2B marketing, allowing companies to optimize their customer experiences. And the legal industry can also leverage AI to create better client experiences.

Although legal tech is not a silver bullet, organizations that have integrated legal technology into their operations report increased profitability.

3. Cloud-Native Solutions

Along with big data, cloud-based solutions help lawyers and clients share files and data across disparate platforms rather than relying solely on emails. Firms migrating their data to the cloud (carefully) can enjoy significant benefits.
From hyper-automation, through the use of collaborative tools like virtual whiteboards, to using machine learning to get the most out of databases of historical information, most legal technology trends rely on the cloud.

Firms can modernize their office phone systems, for example, by investing in voice over internet protocol, or VoIP telephone systems with sophisticated features. Softphones enable distributed workforces to manage their legal proceedings and communicate with each other and clients from anywhere. Flexible, cloud-native systems also support crucial integrations between different tools.

Their widespread adoption will allow organizations to hook up their practice management systems with their unified communications platforms and meet the demands of clients for scalability.

4. Virtual Legal Assistants

As they get more sophisticated, Virtual Legal Assistants (VLAs) are being implemented by more and larger law firms and organizations.

VLAs are AI-powered chatbots that build on basic neural network computing models to harness the power of deep learning.It is predicted that VLAs can answer one-quarter of internal requests made to legal departments. This extends the operational capacity of in-house corporate teams. When intelligent law bots can’t address a particular claim, they pass it to a suitable department.

VLAs not only improve average response times, but they also free up real assistants from handling a good deal of the frequent internal questions legal departments face to work on the high-value tasks that require a human touch.

5. Data Privacy and Cybersecurity

Privacy rules and regulations are also trending. With the right tools, firms can securely share encrypted data both within their organization and externally with clients, witnesses, and courts, all while maintaining compliance.

Data is becoming ever more integral to legal practice operations that require tools spanning different platforms and rely on both private and public clouds. Because of this, the ability to anticipate future risks, protect sensitive client information, and recover mission-critical operations after a cyberattack is becoming ever more of a necessity. The American Bar Association reported in its annual Profile of the Legal Profession that 29% of lawyers dealt with security breaches at their firms in 2021.

Organizations must be prepared to withstand malicious attacks, such as ransomware and malware. Mitigating their risk of exposure also means updating data loss prevention and governance policies to keep up with an ever-evolving landscape of threats. Firms are already taking precautions in the office, for example, by forbidding devices like Google’s Assistant and Alexa to ward off surreptitious eavesdropping by bad actors.

Legal professionals should be cognizant of the alarming rise in cyberattacks and the potential for reputational damage and mitigate these by implementing secure data sharing and policies around acceptable use, privacy, and security especially now, considering the shift to remote work.

Sourced from the Americanbar.org