When we look around us, it is easy to see the impact of modern technology. From transportation to our digital devices, technology has become part of our daily lives. No other place has this become more apparent than in the business environment, where there has been a rapid movement towards digital transformation.
Numerous business sectors have benefitted by integrating digital technology into their processes, either by replacing manual processes with a digital counterpart or by upgrading older technology with newer versions.
The legal industry is not immune to the changes being forged by ever-evolving technologies. From maximizing efficiencies to leveraging AI to cross-reference case law, many law firms are adopting new technologies and finding new ways of working.
The Opportunities Created by Digital Transformation
The digital transformation has revolutionized nearly every industry, from entertainment to retail to communications. Its influence has reached even the more traditional sectors, such as law. Although the legal industry is still highly dependent on traditional practices and will always rely on interpersonal communication, digital technology has greatly advanced legal processes in many innovative ways.
Here are some of the technologies that are modernizing the legal industry:
- Document automation – The drafting of legal documents is normally long and tedious. It also tends to be needlessly repetitive because the legal verbiage used is usually boilerplate. By automating this practice with fillable templates, it will reduce the time and paperwork necessary to create the documents.
- e-Filing – E-Filing apps have made it possible for people to file their cases directly with the court. This saves money for the attorneys, as well as their clients. It also expedites the cases by making it possible to pay fees and penalties online, processing paperwork digitally, and eliminating the need to physically go to the courthouse.
- AI-Enabled Due Diligence – Due diligence, such as background checks, scanning documents for relevant information, or cross-referencing important case law, can take hours of monotonous work. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), all these tasks can be accelerated. This can give the attorney more time to focus on more critical casework.
- e-Discovery – Software has helped facilitate the exchange of documents and evidence in an efficient and organized manner. In addition, it allows the attorney to review and generate documents with ease. This reduces substantial time and cost.
- Video Conferencing – Video conferencing has been a versatile and useful tool for many businesses. It has been especially useful for the legal industry. Not only has it allowed attorneys to “meet” with their clients, but also to communicate with opposing parties. This tool has also been crucial during the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, it made it be possible for E-hearings to be held and prevented many cases from being held up.
- AI-enabled Chatbots – Chatbots are making it easier for law firms to assist visitors to their websites. AI-enabled chatbots can answer quick questions, engage online chats to further engage the visitor, or even schedule an appointment with an attorney. This can potentially lead to a client intake.
- Legal Case Management Software – Case management software centralizes the entire office environment so that everyone has access to documents and data. This protects against losing critical and sometimes confidential information. It also keeps track of case activity and deadlines. All of this helps streamline the workflow and increases productivity.
- eBilling – eBilling solutions have made the billing process more efficient by providing real-time case status tracking and averting billing errors. With clients increasingly requesting an accurate accounting of billable hours, this can be very useful to provide transparency and build their trust.
The Challenges of Digital Transformation for Law Firms
While there are numerous technological tools available to law firms today, the digital transformation of the legal industry is only just beginning. Following are areas to watch for or hurdles that need to be overcome:
- Limited research capability – Because law is heavily dependent on case history, there are libraries full of books that attorneys rely on for research. The challenge when converting paper-based information into digital files is archiving it so that it is still accessible through research. If the file is not properly named, or the right keywords or references are not used, finding the documents will be impossible. One solution for this problem is the use of optical character recognition (OCR). OCR can read and edit these documents, which can speed up the process of digitizing.
- Vulnerability to data hacks – With massive amounts of data being converted, there has been an increase in online security threats. Businesses that are known to hold sensitive, confidential information are being targeted by hackers. Because law firms often handle sensitive information, it makes them a target, as well. To prevent this, law firms should invest in security tools, such as firewalls and anti-virus software, which provide added protection against unwanted security breaches.
The Future of Digital Technology for the Legal Industry
Digital technology is constantly evolving. In a few years, more innovative tools will be available to further increase the efficiency of the legal industry. One possible concept that can pave the path for new technology is called “embedded law.”
Embedded law involves encoding the law into the system workflow or documentation. Once inserted into the system, it can then process the information using pre-programmed algorithms. Afterward, it can generate possible legal outcomes of the problem at hand. This can give the attorney a clearer insight into a case and guide them on how to proceed with a case in order to obtain the best outcome.
One thing is certain, technology is driving our world today. For a law firm to succeed today, they have to be open to change. The question is whether they will fully embrace the technology into their practices. Unfortunately, unless they do, many lawyers will soon find themselves phased out. Even larger firms are feeling the pressure to compete with smaller, more innovative law offices. Although smaller, technology has made these law offices more effective and better able to handle cases and service their clients.
If you are interested in discussing how Client Chat Live can improve the efficiency of your law office through digital transformation, call us today at (808) 495-0231 or visit our contact page. We can discuss all the options that are available to you and get you started right away.