“Bigger, Faster, Stronger” is the motto of players in the National Football League. A lawyer could just as easily describe legal tech trends as being “More Efficient, Faster, More Competitive.”
And like the NFL, the urgency only keeps growing.
The importance of cybersecurity, with hacking and viruses on the rise, has not abated. Law firms face a marketplace demand for increased transparency and the ability to assure clients that documents can be easily accessed —while at the same time having to secure that same information against increasing threats.
Even the best law firms are experiencing the challenge of practicing law in the digital age.
The technology challenge for law firms
Cybersecurity is a particular challenge for small-to-medium sized firms that don’t have large in-house IT departments.
The evolution of legal technology continues to help attorneys do their jobs more efficiently though. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is speeding up the process of document research, e-discovery and finding appropriate case citations.
AI’s improvement will continue, with lawyers able to upload a simple pleading or brief and machine intelligence able to anticipate the questions that will follow.
Furthermore, AI can develop analytics that will predict the outcome of a case with reasonable accuracy. This helps firms manage client expectations and ensure the partners spend their time on the cases most likely to deliver a win.
There’s no shortage of challenges.
When you visit a law firm’s website, it’s common to be greeted by a chatbot, asking how they can help you. The dispensation of legal advice remains strictly regulated. The chatbots have to be programmed in a way that meets ethical obligations while still being helpful in the marketplace and on two contradictory fronts—on the one hand, to be helpful to the web visitor. On the other hand, to weed out cases the partners would not find attractive.
The legal system faces significant structural difficulties right now and many of them cannot be fixed by the industry itself. What they can control is using technology to do business more profitably.
There will be no shortage of pressure on IT departments at the big firms and on the smaller firms to simply keep up.