The development of the legal technology industry has advanced significantly in recent years. This has led to the need to adapt the provision of legal services and legal practice accordingly.
Legal professionals have had to ensure that their services remain inventive, applicable, and available to their diverse customer base as their practices become increasingly technology dependent.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies in many industries have been negatively impacted, and law firms have not been exempt from the same effects.
An overall decline in customer business activity has been observed and several M&A deals have either been postponed or canceled.
In addition, courts and other legal centers have been closed to contain the spread of the disease. Research also showed that law firm incomes fell 15 to 20 percent in 2020 compared to reports from last year.
What is the future of legal tech in 2021 as the industry tries to find new ways to deal with this pandemic?
The change to digitization
With new regulations, lockdowns, and social distancing rules enforced by most governments, law firms and practices have had to update and digitize their services, otherwise there is a risk of losing businesses. Law firms have been forced to take inventory of potentially obsolete systems in order to adjust to the new normal.
Meetings, briefings and customer interactions needed to be moved from the traditional personal environment to a digital arena where the use of video conferencing tools and software increased dramatically. Social distancing will largely stay with us for the remainder of the year and possibly longer.
Another big change the virus brought with it was the sudden switch to remote working. The traditional legal industry was not known for making remote working possible. In certain cases this was simply not practical. The pandemic has forced many law firms to use remote or hybrid methods and adapt their infrastructure much faster than expected.
All of these changes will persist through 2021 and beyond. This is despite the very real cybersecurity threat that is expected to cost the world $ 6 trillion a year by 2021. Working remotely, opening up on-site servers has also paved the way for an increase in data breaches and other cyber attacks. Off-site workers who have traditionally used weak passwords on their corporate networks could now easily become the source for an account takeover.
Companies had to mix and match to adapt and update their systems and to close security gaps as quickly as possible. Employees also had to be retrained in the most effective and secure ways to work remotely. In fact, cybersecurity automation itself is another rising trend to watch out for in 2021 and beyond.
The age of automation
The digital transformation has increasingly been implemented in various aspects of business processes. Legal tech companies have begun to see areas where certain tasks can be automated to cut expenses and increase productivity. This makes good business sense and appeals to progressive mindsets.
For example, automated mailing systems could eliminate a lot of manual administration and make record keeping simple and accurate. The reports and statistics provided by automated systems can also help decision makers understand various trends and customer actions.
This, in turn, could lead to more targeted marketing efforts and leads, which then generate a much higher ROI. As automation is increasingly integrated into the daily tasks and processes of a company, the documentation must be improved at the same time.
Accurate and comprehensive records must be kept to ensure continuity. Detailed documentation on all aspects of an automated process should contain the following points:
- The motivation behind the automation – What loophole or administrative task was addressed? · The processes and platforms involved – Which employees are involved in managing the process with complete details on software, login accounts and access levels?
- The results or reports are generated – What is the expected outcome of the automation and who is responsible for addressing the results?
- The support available – this is often overlooked; If automation fails for any reason, who is the person or company responsible for fixing it, and what is their support offering or service level agreement (SLA)?
These are important considerations that cannot be overlooked. Once the above documents are in place and continuously reviewed and updated, a law firm can rest assured that it can provide legal services without disrupting processes. This is even more urgent during the pandemic, where efficiency is of the essence. Accurate and comprehensive records will no doubt remain here through 2021.
Effects on industry and customers
When legal billing is automated and standardized, law firms increase revenue, meet their operational goals, and identify and remediate internal inefficiencies.
However, it is the company’s responsibility to keep customers updated on best security practices. In this way, they avoid falling victim to ransomware attacks and other types of cybercrime.
Automation can still pose a risk to businesses and customer information. The infrastructure, platforms or software must come from a reputable provider and be securely set up to protect the customer’s privacy. The lawyer-client relationship is based on trust, and the legal industry is certainly expected to have the means to protect that trust.
If the platform has security vulnerabilities, it could result in a serious data breach, which in turn could have serious effects, such as: B. an account takeover or ransomware attacks. The reputation failure will be too bad. Similar to financial institutions, the public perception is that a client’s data should be most secure in the hands of a law firm.
In the course of 2021, we can continue to expect rapid trends in both digital transformation and automation. Artificial intelligence will continue to change legal advice, with numerous consequences and advantages. The legal technology industry needs to keep pace in order to provide the best experience possible for its clients and to keep them for future business. The alternative is to take the risk of being left behind.