The Digital India initiative is a nationwide programme to digitise Indian industries and businesses and create a digitally-empowered society. Many industries in the country are digitising at a rapid pace, adopting cutting-edge software and technology to modernise their strategy and operations. Unfortunately, the legal industry is a bit slower to digitise than many other sectors.
In India’s dynamic legal sector, younger, tech-savvy professionals are already making a mark. Some are becoming partners sooner and working side-by-side with experienced professionals who are more used to legacy methods and technologies. The infusion of young blood is a welcome development since they bring newer ideas and better ways of working into their law firms. But this will only happen if they are to work with digital frameworks, streamlined workflows, and automated tools.
Digitisation will improve process efficiencies and allow legal professionals to do more with less. Over time, it will transform India’s legal industry.
The need for technology in India’s legal industry
Young legal professionals are unwilling to work with old-fashioned paper-based processes and manual tools. They demand work environments that augment their skills and are powered by digital capabilities. They also want tools that allow them to offload boring, low-value tasks and focus on high-value tasks that add meaning to their work lives and increase billable hours for the company. And for all of this, digital technologies are vital.
The entry of foreign players in the sector is also creating an impetus for firms to adopt modern legal technology. Many mid-sized law firms are exploring expansion opportunities via partnerships and mergers. The success of such collaborations heavily depends on the adoption of global practices, automation, and digital solutions. In the face of such developments, technology will be a game-changer for Indian law firms.
The right tools and LegalTech software will help them leverage industry best practices to retain top talent and expand their operational footprint. Through automation and digitisation, they will improve their processes and increase the speed of work. They will also enhance collaboration among stakeholders and enable more efficient case management. All of this will create benefits for the firm, its employees, and its clients. On a broader scale, it will take India closer to its goal of creating a trillion-dollar digital economy.
Government of India’s digitisation efforts for the legal sector
Digital India is just one of the many nationwide digitisation initiatives implemented by the Government of India. The government is also making a sustained effort to digitise individual industries with the support and participation of industry stakeholders.
For instance, in 2017, the Supreme Court digitised a staggering 1,05,00,000 (one crore five lakh) pages of civil appeals. These records went back to the pre-independence era and all the way to 2002. This effort is one of the recent reforms undertaken by the Indian judiciary with the support of the central government.
Another reform is the Integrated Case Management System (ICMIS) launched in 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of then Chief Justice of India, JS Khehar. The system will enable litigants to access essential data online. They will also be able to understand the costs involved in the litigation since the court fee and process fee will be automatically calculated online. The ICMIS is also part of the government’s effort to digitise Indian courts and make the proceedings of the Supreme Court paperless.
These facts show that digitisation is gaining ground in India. It is also moving from the private to public spaces in many sectors, including law. But for India to have a well-functioning, fully digitised legal system, private law firms must also participate in the effort. They should be more open to adopting digital frameworks to manage their practices and handle a bulk of manual legal processes.
The benefits of technology in the legal industry
The right digital technologies will help law firms to effectively deal with huge volumes of information more efficiently. They will also be able to gain crucial insights that will help them make effective and profitable data-driven decisions.
One solution that is likely to bring huge benefits to India’s legal sector is practice management software. In India, the adoption of such software is still very low. More law firms must implement and use practice management software to set the stage for an effective and profitable digital framework.
This software automates legal workflows and simplifies collaboration. It enables legal teams to cope more easily with their tasks. They can also remotely access and edit files and historic case information through the software’s user-friendly search feature. Further, team members can easily and instantly share files with each other and with third parties such as clients to streamline their case workflows and processes and create mutually-beneficial outcomes for everyone involved.
Digitisation and automation can also help law firms to scale up their operations, increase billable hours, and earn more revenues. Currently, there is a big gap between the hourly rates of Indian lawyers vis-à-vis their international counterparts. This gap, along with competition-led pricing, is hindering the entrance of global firms into the Indian legal sector. It is also curtailing the growth of the sector and the growth of individual firms within it.
By digitising their operations, law firms can make their processes more efficient. More importantly, they willl bring their processes closer to international standards, which will help them grow faster, maximise returns, and place India’s legal sector on the world map.
I empower law firms enterprise legal departments, Startups, SMEs, and Corporates to tap into these solutions in order to a) Increase billable hours, b) Grow revenues and profits, c) Reduce dependencies on junior staff, d) Minimise paperwork errors, e) Make Office Paperless
If I had to sum myself and my passion in one sentence, I would say that I am enthusiastic about converting IDEAS into REALITY through TECHNOLOGY.
Authored by Lion Amir Virani