New Technologies and Their Impact on Legal Practice

Technology is something you can’t escape, no matter how hard you try. Even in your personal life, you could try your hardest to live like it’s 1985, but sooner or later, you’re going to have to play along and join a Zoom call.

The same thing applies to legal practice. After decades of clinging on to the old-fashioned approach, law firms are finally getting their groove on and adopting new technologies in their day-to-day processes.

It would be an understatement to say that the impact has been game-changing, the legal industry is no longer the same as it was, even a decade ago.

Here’s how things have changed as a result of new technologies:

1.  Tedious tasks are no more

One of the big changes brought on by technology is the gradual phasing out of the low-level tasks that plagued the legal profession. Back-end tasks that used to take a lot of effort for even an army of paralegals to complete are now significantly simplified and shortened.

This is all thanks to AI automation. In one fell swoop, it eased the introduction of new types of digital evidence and allowed speeding up e-discovery by automatically pulling out the relevant pieces of evidence – all the while eliminating unnecessary data in a search.

Other tedious processes have also been addressed – basically, anything having to do with documents.

For instance, different kinds of legal writing software are available that can completely streamline the way documents are handled in your law firm.

If you are spending way too much time editing and reviewing contracts, an AI-powered contract review software can help you do this process in a fraction of the time. It automatically highlights key terms and groups them for your convenience, as well as fixes the ever-present problem of bulleting, numbering, and formatting in your documents.

2.  A different kind of research

Artificial intelligence is all the rage right now in the legal space — most importantly in the field of legal research and litigation analytics.

Enter natural language processing (NLP) into the picture. It allows lawyers to communicate to a computer as if talking to a colleague. In other words, you no longer need to craft complex search terms when going through an online legal database.

The computer accepts natural language queries and comes up with relevant results in a fraction of the time that would take a lawyer to navigate them using specific search terms.

The same technology can also be used to make educated predictions on future outcomes.

There is a lot of data available, so much that humans can’t analyze it alone. But with litigation analytics, this information can be quickly analyzed by AI, giving you an assessment of a multitude of things. For example, you can predict how a judge might rule on a particular case.

Lawyers no longer need to rely on their own experience to craft the perfect strategy. Rather, they can make the best call if they rely on historical data to guide them.

3.  New ways to interact with clients

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, most legal firms had to adapt Zoom as a replacement to actual meetings. However, this change was simply a means to an end.

The real power lies in a complete overhaul of the lawyer/client interaction.

Today, potential clients expect and demand more. A simple way to address this burning need is the introduction of legal chatbots.

Having a chatbot on your site makes your services available 24/7. The chatbot can answer simple queries, set meetings, but most importantly, it can complete a huge part of the client intake process. What’s more, new clients have grown accustomed to this kind of convenience, so having a chatbot is a great way to work more efficiently and fulfill their expectations.

Once the client is onboarded, however, the battle has only begun. Using any modern communication tool, such as Slack, can be a lot more useful than relying on phone calls or emails to discuss the progress of the case. The clients are on their phones all day as well, so they will most likely appreciate the fact they can simply instant-message you, whenever they see fit.

4.  Flexibility and collaboration

There is no shortage of law firms that lose significant amounts of money every year due to poor productivity. The use of cloud-based legal document management software remedies this.

This software safely stores your important documents in the cloud, providing you and anyone on your team access to these files anywhere, at any time. This allows for a more efficient document workflow and makes the entire document operation more organized and better communicated.

In addition to being an easy-remote work tool and a way of storing files, legal document management software also allows you to work collaboratively in real time with the powerful version-control feature.

There’s no need to open multiple email trees and look for the most recent version of the document because the latest incarnation of the file is always put upfront.

The rise of the underdog

The biggest impact technology has made on the legal industry is how it empowered small law firms.

In the past, larger law firms had all the manpower and resources in the world, which shifted the playing field in their favor. But with legal technology, the lack of those two factors can be circumvented. Thus, smaller law firms now have the opportunity to compete with their larger counterparts.

It’s also important to mention the rise of the virtual law firm. With all the technology available, law firms can operate strictly online without needing a brick-and-mortar office.

Technology has only opened up many more possibilities and changed the way lawyers operate in their day-to-day work.

However, moving forward, the adoption of the latest software is also the only way to stay relevant in a fierce and competitive modern-day legal market. Lawyers need to do everything faster. Otherwise, someone will provide the same legal service cheaper or better — or both.

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