All industries are undergoing a digital transformation as a result of the pandemic, and the legal industry in 2021 is no exception. Consumers are managing their work digitally for the first time. Technology has enabled law firms to become less tech-averse, and the leading firms who took advantage of this opportunity were able to improve efficiency by spending time wisely. With the global recession behind us, companies will be forced to cut their service costs, prompting even greater client-driven innovation. Technology plays a massive role in delivering what clients want and what they will be ready to pay for it. Technology adoption is increasing across the board in the legal industry.
In order to ensure the future of the legal profession, lawyers, who are increasingly dependent on technology, have had to make sure that their services remain relevant, applicable, and accessible to their clientele. Many businesses across many industries were adversely affected by the outbreak of COVID-19, and law firms were no exception. Many customers’ transactions were postponed or cancelled as a result of a general reduction in their business activities.
To combat the spread of the disease, courts and other legal centres were closed. According to research, the income of law firms decreased by 15 to 20 percent in 2020 compared to reports from the previous year. As the legal industry in 2021 attempts to find new ways to navigate this pandemic, how will legal technology develop in the future?
The Legal Industry in 2021: Is Digitization the New Normal?
In response to new regulations, lockdown measures, and social distancing regulations enforced by most governments, law firms and practices have had to modernize and digitize their services or else risk losing business. The new normal has forced legal firms to evaluate outdated systems in order to adapt to the future of the legal industry.
Video conferencing tools were increasingly used to replace the traditional face-to-face approach of meetings, briefs, and client interactions. Despite the vaccination process, social distancing will still primarily be with us for the remaining year.
One of the other massive changes caused by the virus is the sudden shift to remote work. Traditionally, the legal industry did not accommodate remote work. The future of the legal industry, though, seems to be moving in a different direction. Many law firms have had to adapt their infrastructure much faster than expected after being forced to adopt remote or hybrid methodologies due to the pandemic.
The threat of cybersecurity is a genuine threat to the future of the legal industry — six trillion dollars a year in damage is projected by 2021. Data breaches and other cyber attacks have increased with remote working and the opening up of on-site servers. Weak passwords used by off-site employees on company networks could now easily lead to an account takeover.
As a result, companies scrambled to update their systems and plug security holes as quickly as possible. It was also necessary to retrain employees on secure and effective ways to work remotely. Cybersecurity automation itself is a trend that should be watched for the rest of 2021, and also the near future of the legal industry in general.
Automation Will Form the Legal Industry’s Future
Various business processes are increasingly being implemented with digital transformation. Legal technology companies have begun to realize that specific tasks can be automated to reduce expenditures and increase productivity. This would be a great business move and would appeal to progressive mindsets as well.
Automated mailing systems, for instance, make record-keeping easy and accurate and remove a lot of manual effort associated with administrative work. Automation systems can also provide decision-makers with reports and statistics that help them understand various trends and client actions.
A result of this could be more effective marketing and more leads, which in turn would provide a better return on investment. As automation becomes more pervasive in the world of business, documentation needs to improve at the same time, in order to keep up with the digital horizon of the legal industry’s future.
Records need to be kept accurately and comprehensively to ensure continuity. Points should be included in detailed documentation on the specifics of an automated process. Points such as:
- Reasons for automating – what administrative task or gap was being addressed?
- The platforms and processes involved – how many staff members are behind the software, logins, and access levels?
- The reports or results generated – who will be responsible for handling the outcome of the automation?
- The availability of support – the availability of a person or company who is responsible for fixing or providing any other kind of support for the automation system is a point that is usually overlooked when updating a firm to keep up with the demands of the future of the legal industry.
These are essential points not to be overlooked. A legal tech industry that follows the procedure described above is assured that they can deliver legal services without interruption of processes as long as the documentation is properly maintained and reviewed on a continuous basis. During a pandemic in which efficiency is critical, this point is even more pressing. The need for accurate and comprehensive record-keeping will remain in the legal industry in 2021.
The impact on the clients and the future of the legal industry
By automating and standardizing legal billing, legal businesses increase revenues and achieve their operational goals while identifying and fixing internal inefficiencies. Clients should be kept apprised of best security practices by the company so that they avoid falling victim to ransomware attacks and other types of cybercrime. Companies and client data are still at risk when it comes to automation. A reputable company’s infrastructure, platforms, or software must be installed securely to protect client privacy. Trust is a key component of the lawyer-client relationship, and the legal industry must have the funds to protect that trust, as the future of the legal profession is what hangs in the balance.
When the platform has security flaws, it can result in severe data breaches, which can, in turn, lead to account takeovers and ransomware attacks. The fallout will be too dire. Legal companies are perceived in public as being trustworthy of the clients’ data and privacy, just like financial institutions are. The digital transformation and automation trends in the legal industry’s future are expected to continue rapidly in 2021. The use of artificial intelligence will continue to transform legal services, leading to a variety of implications and benefits. It will be necessary for the legal technology industry to keep up so that clients are retained for future business. Otherwise, the legal industry risks being left behind!