Massive change is coming to the way we work and workplaces as a whole. The future of technology is speculative but rapidly-changing. Mobility is key as the traditional work environment is on the verge of disappearing altogether.
Lawyers need to keep pace; with the ever-changing advisory needs of their clients, and in adapting their work processes to keep up. Technology is a key component, vital to the success of the modern law firm.
The biggest threats to our current economic life are new communication technologies, new modes of mobility and new energy sources. Together, these change, manage and move us. But rather than letting the wave of change overwhelm us, we can take advantage of the opportunities by getting in with new technologies as they develop, and surf the wave to success.
Existing technology could be adapted to perform up to 50% of the tasks currently carried out by junior lawyers.
Artificial intelligence is already so heavily integrated into our lives, and while we haven’t yet reached the point of robot lawyers, AI are already disrupting the legal profession at the bottom end of the legal services market. Automation of wills, conveyancing and family law documents is a rapidly growing area of law tech.
Machine learning, natural language processing and data mining are some examples of technology already incorporated into products and processes.
Legal Tech will create savings
Flexibility, mobility and efficiency are crucial to the future of legal practice. Legal customers today have more access to information than ever before, and they know what they want. Their ability to choose means lawyers need to maximise their time and knowledge.
If you want to advance your practice, you’ll need to be a knowledge leader and learn how to leverage technology in the delivery of the best legal services.
Customers know that technology is creating savings in time and money for lawyers and they expect those savings to be passed on. Clients want to experience the savings.
The expectation from clients is that they want to see their lawyers doing the heavy lifting, but don’t want to pay for routine work, and tech is making more and more aspects of legal work routine.
Businesses must respond to the push for customer-focused output by constantly considering customer perspectives.
Legal tech benefits the underserviced legal market the most – simple problems can be solved in more affordable ways.
New products can provide legal services that were previously unaffordable for customers.
Workplaces need to follow in the trend to become collaborative, open and transparent. Businesses need to move NOW, change their business model before the collapse of the current system. We need to find solutions to help rather than hinder; solutions that seamlessly merge with existing work processes.
There are currently many financial, legal, institutional and mental impulses that we need to unstick from in order to embrace a new consciousness for a new era. The need to re-invent legal practices is here, now, and we all need to examine how services are delivered.
The best solutions are when technology works with you
Change can be incremental or it can be immediate.
In this new era, the way we think about power and freedom is changing. We used to think of power as a pyramid structure, where self-sufficiency and autonomy equals freedom. But now, in a world where information is accessible everywhere, autonomy is death. To flourish, one must be embedded in information networks. We benefit each other – freedom is inclusivity and access.
Research still needs to reflect the best of your knowledge and abilities. While you need to save time, you also need expertise in delivering legal services. No one wants to sacrifice efficiency for precision. All successful firms embrace technology. The idea of new technology should not be a pain point!
Some technology is designed to fit in with existing work processes, other technology may require more drastic change. This shouldn’t be scary; the best solutions come to those with an open mind.
New solutions can come at any time
Technology grows at unpredictable rates, and the potential for new legal tech exists everywhere. Start-ups see the legal industry as ripe for disruption, but can only address one specific area of law or process at a time. In the USA, more than 280 legal tech start-ups have raised $757 millions since 2012.
While startups usually only have the resources to address one issue at a time, larger legal information providers can use their existing knowledge of the market to create better and more flexible tools.
Still, you need to have the right technology. Where bad tech can slow you down, good tech is useful and effective in maximising productivity.
To succeed, seamlessly integrate programmes and systems that minimise distractions, maximise productivity and keeps your team on track. Good tech ensures you have the tools to overcome challenges and remain results-driven on a daily basis.
This means shaking up more traditional work processes. When your clients have the whole internet at their fingertips they will have higher expectations for you. In a world where knowledge is everywhere, it’s important to preserve high standards of accuracy and precision.
It’s one thing to know it all, but something else altogether to know what is relevant and what matters. Research doesn’t have to be as time consuming and inefficient as it used to be.
Be at the forefront of knowledge
Not only do law firms need to embrace changing technology for their own processes, but they need to understand the growing areas. Lawyers need to keep pace with their clients’ advisory needs in the face of a booming tech industry, and in this way, need to be ahead of the game with the most up-to-date legal information providers.
The future of technology is speculative, but rapidly changing, and all successful firms need to leverage technology in the delivery of legal services – predictive analytics in law, rule systems, matter standards in law firms, legal education reform, and customer perspectives.
Where to next?
The problem with legal services is the broad and ever-changing nature of the work. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It would be nice if one quick and easy piece of software or technology could come along and do half the work for you – so much of any lawyers’ time is consumed with drafting, re-writing, editing and researching.
Custom-driven solutions that also maintain accuracy as well as optimising resources are the way of the future. With the growth of AI, our traditional and monotonous tasks are soon to be a thing of the past.
Will you be ready for the change when it comes? Will you be ahead of it?
Grace Tong is a practical content writer with LexisNexis NZ.