The industry of law resisted the adoption of technology for as long as it could but now, the dam has broken. Some might consider it an exciting time; others consider it concerning because technology is changing the industry forever. Modern lawyers must adapt quickly because technological evolution won’t stop.
Let’s take a look at the innovative software and technology used by lawyers in 2021.
Document Creation AI
Paperwork and documentation are the bedrock of the entire legal industry and a primary focus of emerging technology. For so long, the enormous time cost of writing, proofreading, reviewing, and adjusting new documents has been tolerated by clients. However, that is not the case anymore. Legal clients’ expectations are changing with the advent of increased transparency and rapidly improving software.
For lawyers of every seniority, an AI contract review software solution is essential. Speed and accuracy are greatly advanced by using pioneering AI and eradicating inexcusable mistakes. The old methods of line-by-line edits from a paralegal or junior counsel don’t cut it anymore because it takes too long.
Days spent walking the aisles of the impressive libraries at top law schools should be behind forward-thinking lawyers by now. Digital libraries have come a long way from the previously difficult-to-use models. Even the Office of the Law Revision Counsel has revamped their site for a better UX.
Law libraries and research tools like Fastcase, LexisNexis, Nolo, ROSS Intelligence, and Westlaw are all competing over how advanced and accessible they can make research. For example, Nolo offers thousands of free do-it-yourself guides that even experienced attorneys refer to. Fastcase and LexisNexis provide lawyers with their own research dashboards that give case alerts, analytics, and insights on opposing counsels or judges. The advancement in efficiency and access is unparalleled.
ROSS Intelligence is the best example. Using the supercomputer, Watson, built by IBM, ROSS is the most advanced AI in legal research. Watson understands non-legalese and can provide search case summary results related to the query. It will even let lawyers know if there were disputes or criticisms. Having this level of knowledge allows lawyers to prepare better case strategies whilst also preparing to deconstruct opposing counsel arguments.
Billing in the legal sector has always been a headache. Ill-conceived systems, a lack of transparency, and unpredictable invoices meant clients were slow to pay at best. This was a huge challenge, especially to smaller and growing firms.
Thankfully, digital billing has all but eliminated debt collection as a major hurdle in law. Software such as TimeSolv, PC Law, and LawPay ease the worries of lawyers by creating predictable cycles and accessible methods of payment.
Lawyers can easily track their billable hours with transparency for clients, especially with the help of software like PracticePanther. Most systems will have the client upload credit cards or other payment methods to ease collection. Invoices issued to the client are automatically charged and paid efficiently. There’s no longer any need for waiting for checks, enduring excuses, and redundant accountancy reporting practices.
For something as simple as a signature, it shouldn’t be such a nuisance to get. Lawyers have traditionally had to post, fax, or pass legal documents to the necessary stakeholders for signatures. At best, it would take hours and prove to be costly. At worst, it would take days and disrupt significant legal proceedings.
DocuSign, Adobe and, PandaDocs have all resolved this problem. What used to take hours can now take minutes, and the hitch of getting signatures no longer exists. Like all the best solutions, e-signature software makes lawyers forget that it was ever a frustrating problem.
Cloud and Case Management
Since the rush to remote work in 2020, we have witnessed just how crucial management platforms are.
Clio, Ruby Law, My Case, and OneTapp are the most popular cloud and case management platforms on the legal market. Each one offers unique features, allowing lawyers to automate and augment their productivity.
Similarly, Clio and Ruby Law have inserted AI and automation right from the legal receptionist to case preparations and management. Prospective clients can navigate their preferred service and fill out intake forms that generate a profile before a lawyer is used. These non-billable tasks usually cost small firms income-generating capacity and eat into profits.
Once a client is onboarded, the lawyer can use cloud platforms to enhance client relations. Bespoke portals allow the lawyer to share and request files from their client, meaning more communicative and transparent dialogue. Furthermore, busy lawyers can easily maintain an overview dashboard that highlights progress and pressing tasks. Savvy platforms are reducing inaccuracies, oversights, and mistakes which is essential for any legal professional’s credibility.
Lawyers in 2021 operate in a rapidly changing environment. Technology is constantly evolving and disrupting different practices, and lawyers have no choice but to keep up. In some states, they are even obliged to. Both North Carolina and Florida have now mandated 12-hour annual technology CLE courses which is a testament to the growing influence.
For emerging lawyers and growing firms especially, technology fluency is a route to gaining a competitive advantage quickly, and the pandemic proved this fact. Firms and lawyers who were able to serve digitally with the most agility made the biggest dent in the markets. Fortunately, as big firms play catch-up, the clients will be the ones reaping the rewards of the consistent technological improvements.