Ian Oxman, Vice President, Marketing, Aderant
Despite its reputation as a slow adopter of change, the legal industry is beginning to implement new technology at an increasing rate. During our recent survey of legal professionals in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, we found that 98 percent of law firms undertook one or more technology initiatives in 2014. Also uncovered was that 37 percent of mid-sized and 49 percent of large firms reported increased IT budgets for the year.
So how are legal professionals implementing and using these new technologies? To explore this topic, we polled a panel of experts and influencers in the legal tech field and asked, “What are the top legal technology trends so far in 2015?” Here’s what we heard:
Common Legal Technology Trends in 2015
- Increased Use of Legal Project Management Software
While much has been discussed about legal project management and process improvement in the past, implementation and adoption remains sluggish. However, many experts believe new technology and automation tools will facilitate an increase in the utilization of project management tools. What’s more is that as clients continue to demand increased efficiency, fully adopting these solutions and getting the most out of them, becomes even more important.
As outside legal budgets shrink and the drive for in-house efficiency rises, technology becomes necessary to do more for less, making automation and workflow tools critical for attorneys aiming to remain competitive. Firms are increasingly adopting automation technology in the form of workflow efficiency, compliance tools and the automated drafting of documents.
More sophisticated firms are starting to move to the next level of project management and explore task management. With the growth of in-house legal departments and alternative service providers, task management is becoming critical to efficiency. Experts noted that some of the benefits of task management include providing assumptions of the length of time needed for various tasks, improved communications, better resource management and improved deadline management.
- Technology to Streamline Billing and Manage Alternative Fee Arrangements
In an era of escalating client pressure for top value, more and more firms are offering alternative fee arrangements and becoming more cognizant of client budgets. As firms are driven to change their thinking—and processes—around managing matters, a new class of legal billing software, process management and pricing is emerging to help firms.
As more firms streamline billing processes in 2015, greater accountability to clients is a natural byproduct. By implementing regular KPI measurements against targets and employing benchmark data, attorneys can make changes to improve overall profitability and increase client value.
- Integration and Collaboration of Legal Software and Devices
As legal software infiltrates the market, the need for collaboration and integration of products and devices is of utmost importance. Lawyers want simple solutions, so legal technology companies that encourage and facilitate seamless integration will have the most staying power.
With more and more functionality being added to our smartphones and desktops, lawyers are expecting everything to work together smoothly. Technologies (not just mobile) that enable a more distributed, off-site way of working will also become immensely important as law firms move away from firm-centric working. As lawyers increasingly work from multiple devices, platforms and apps, it is important for law firms to work closely with their IT departments to avoid inherent compatibility and cyber security risks.
- Increased Use of Business Intelligence
“Big data”, business intelligence and machine learning are undoubtedly having an increasing impact on the legal market, and many are exploring how the tools and techniques can help them better serve clients and manage their firms. This is already being evidenced by the growing number of firms implementing business intelligence systems. Proper adoption and utilization of BI systems will be key to the success of law firms, as actionable intelligence is needed for firms to realize guaranteed benefits.
While it’s highly unlikely that artificial intelligence will one day replace lawyers with robots, multiple simultaneous and disruptive advances in technology are fundamentally changing the practice of law. Speech recognition, eDiscovery and other interactive tools will be technologies to watch in the future.
We’d like to thank our panel of experts for contributing their insights:
CPA specializing in the legal industry, Publisher of Legal Practice Intelligence
Partner and Chair of the Technology Group, Morris, Manning & Martin LLP
Director of Strategic Pricing and Project Management, Pepper Hamilton LLP
Founder and CEO, Traklight, Co-Founder Evolve Law and legal technology writer
Legal Technology Innovation Architect, Norton Rose Fulbright
Consultant, Fireman & Company, Author of Prism Legal Blog
Head of Content and Community, Legal Support Network
Founder and CEO, Litigation-Tech LLC