While traditionally in-house legal teams are slower to adopt change, the COVID-19 pandemic has started a tech revolution, with many departments embracing new technologies to aid revenue generation. More so, in 2021, the legal industry is projected to become a global market worth $1,011B. One of the slowest sectors to go digital is now coming online, driven by more technology-friendly legal departments.
As the GC/CLO role is changing and legal departments grow in size, the need for effective operations within their departments increased threefold. As General Counsels become more strategic, the day-to-day responsibilities shift to a relatively newer function: legal operations. These internal teams focus on implementing new and more effective systems, tools and processes to ease the daily struggles of in-house legal teams.
The digital revolution of the legal industry began in 1973, when Lexis Nexis developed the UBIQ terminal to allow attorneys to search case law online, rather than books. What followed was the introduction of a microcomputer by Wang, that was included word processing.
The legal tech market has travelled a long way since towards a complete digital overhaul, with the introduction of other innovative software to automate and improve operational efficiency in areas like:
Manual research is, in general, a tedious and error-prone process, which gets more complex as the projects develop and quick decisions are needed. However, with the advent of automated legal research platform, this time-consuming process is significantly improved.
Legal research remains as important, whether done manually or automatically, but how attorneys conduct it is constantly evolving. Tools not only get smarter, but also more comprehensive thanks to a new generation of tools powered by Artificial Intelligence and NLP.
Technology-assisted review (TAR) automates document review. It is a predictive coding system that uses machine-learning technology to give computers the ability to learn from human input and make educated guesses surrounding document classification.
This type of technology is usually used in the legal industry to dramatically reduce document sets – sometimes from several million down to a few thousands. It finds information during the review phase of a case, altering the discovery process for attorneys and the courts.
Whether accessing invoice data from the cloud, digital invoicing solutions help legal organizations save time by implementing accessible billing systems available from anywhere, on any device.
Nowadays, automated and digitized invoicing processes are becoming indispensable for attorneys and other industries professionals alike. The shift to eInvoicing enables savings of up to 80% compared to paper invoices. In addition, resources such as personnel, time and raw materials can be saved and errors minimized.
Legal case management software like FLightONE have been developed to assist in-house legal teams with meeting today’s market challenges for project management and case tracking.
FLightONE is First Law International’s proprietary Case and Matter-Management platform that enables clients to follow case updates, plan project process, track current project updates from start to closure.
Law firm clients and employees in corporations expect better, faster service, including a rapid and accurate provision of various documents and agreements. Contract Management software usually employs Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology and allows attorneys and legal teams to quickly check digital contracts. Contract Automation software allows teams to deliver documents and build templates stored in the cloud for easy access. As a result, log in and interaction with cases and sharing between team members is made easy and eliminates most bottlenecks.
Legal technology is changing how professionals in the legal sector are serving their clients. Quality service alone is no longer enough, as law firms embrace new technology and shift towards offering an entirely new customer experience focused on easing the burden on both clients in-house legal teams.
Without a solid and sustainable integration between technology and customer experience, the key interaction points that clients have with legal brands both offline and online can lead to inconsistency.
Quality service alone does no longer suffice. While the legal industry has historically been slow to adopt change, the events in the past year cannot go unnoticed and law firms are forced into adopting state-of-the-art customer experience programs that deliver consistent levels of interaction across platforms.
The outcome early adopters in the industry have seen is already showing higher customer retention rates, a growing customer base and higher CLV.
On one of our GC Channel interviews with Evan Slavitt of AVX Corporation we touched upon the shift brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just 12 months ago, it seemed inconceivable to run multijurisdictional M&A projects happening on one continent without leaving your living room. The world was forced into dealing with physical restrictions that forbid international movement, thus the use of various web services like Zoom or Cisco started becoming the norm. Realizing the effectiveness on both time and costs, redefined the way legal teams will approach such projects in the future.
One of the top trends of 2020 was the approach of remote work and digital platforms that support this working model gained popularity. Managing distributed legal projects teams was facilitated by platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack or FLIghtONE, FLI's proprietary technology for case management.
Additionally, it seems generally accepted that the market has been permanently changed. Increased remote working and less on-site project teams are likely to remain a feature not only for the legal services environment, but across all other industries.
Gartner, Inc. predicts legal technology budgets will increase threefold through 2025 as General Counsels face increasing pressure both in terms of managing legal workload and driving efficiency in their departments.
With restrictive budgets limiting hiring more headcount, increasing workload will force in-house legal departments to find new ways to automate repetitive legal work and digitize internal processes. Thus, developing a comprehensive, multi-year strategy will be critical to success.
When looking to onboard a new technology partner, in-house legal teams should consider expertise, location, technology stack but also understanding of local markets and jurisdictions. Regardless of the strategies and technologies firms choose, however, it is important to remember that all competitors in the market are evaluating the same set of tools and making decisions to gain or preserve advantage. Those who make these decisions hastily or without a formal strategy put their practice at risk in an evolving market. Without a clear competitive strategy, law firms risk winning a race to parity rather than advantage.
Looking for additional information? Download our detailed white paper that covers trends in Legal Tech and the outcomes we can expect by 2025.
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Raluca specializes in corporate branding strategy & activation, digital media, data storytelling, crisis communications, reputation management and inbound marketing. She joined FLI as a marketing and communications expert with 10+ years of leading rebranding strategies across various verticals and extensive experience restructuring organizations evolving through dramatic branding change. Raluca has worked for leading global brands such as Audi, Volkswagen Group, Goodyear and Nokia.
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