The state of technology marches onward and the legal profession needs to find how tech advancement makes the most sense, for both the law firm and the client. Here are 4 key legal tech trends to keep an eye on in 2020.
Trend #1: Automated billing
Billing is the lifeblood of any law firm, but making certain that all the hours get clocked and billed can be a challenge. Legal tech firms are reporting that as much as 30 percent of billable time goes untracked if the attorneys are left to their own devices.
That statistic might go a long way toward debunking the perception of every lawyer as a greedy shark, trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the client, but it’s also a lot of money for any company to leave on the table.
It’s imperative that attorneys be able to easily “clock in” like any other hourly employee and do so as easily from the road or the courtroom as they would in the office.
Trend #2: Virtual legal assistants
Most law firm websites have a chatbot set up, one that prompts users with the question of what kind of help they need. This is a terrific trend for strengthening your digital marketing funnel and it’s good for customers who might feel more comfortable sharing information with an anonymous chat box than with a live person.
But VLAs, as these virtual legal assistants are called, are still only as good as the programmer. As the comfort level of website users rises, the questions being asked are getting more varied. This means more legal expertise required in the tech department or attorneys giving more time to the techies in providing answers to the questions.
It requires creativity on the part of the programmers to understand the nuances of each question. With the mere presence of VLAs no longer a novelty, marketing wins are going to go to the law firms that get the most done with their chatbots.
Trend #3: The expertise gap
On a somewhat related point, the expertise required of IT departments in law firms is growing more complex. For smaller shops with 2-3 partners and someone running IT on the side, it can be even more challenging. The portion of the population that has real expertise in both tech and law isn’t high to begin with and the need for their skillset is growing.
Trend #4: The virtual law practice
Like the rest of the economy, law firms are needing to allow people to work remotely more often. If for nothing else, to offer the quality of life benefits necessary to retain talented people. Figuring out how to keep team members connected is something that will matter to your firm’s chemistry. Fortunately, video conferencing tools continue to advance and make this a manageable task.