Technology is changing the world in the blink of an eye. All industries see tie-up with technology, and the legal industry is no exception. The sudden prominence of legal technology is attributed to the great benefits of remote working, adding efficiency and flexibility. From conventional court hearings to video call-based sessions, from physical signatures to e-signatures and from work at the office to remote working, the legal industry has come a long way and continues to evolve.
Legal professionals often state that they are under immense pressure and spend time on mundane and repetitive tasks. Technological development plays a crucial role in effectively utilising time for productive and higher-value activities.
Implementing legal technology
The impact of legal tech (legalleadership.co.uk) summarises the processes that the legal tech applications have penetrated:
- Document and contract management automation
Legal tech can simplify the process and efficiently manage the control, creation, termination, and various contract aspects, providing two benefits to the organisation; firstly, the organisation will have streamlined contract management, reducing risks such as security and error. Secondly, time management will allow the lawyers to focus on other essential tasks and support the business development.
- Spend analysis and e-billing
The organisation needs to evaluate the legal spending. Having an automated tool to interrogate and report on expenditures, errors, and trends is necessary for any legal team. Having such insights into the spending may help organisations plan for budget, targets, KPIs, external relationships, etc.
- Data security
Organisations maintain a large amount of personal data of their clients, and compromising the data deters the organisation's credibility and subsequent growth. Legal tech protects systems from possible cyber threats while keeping the GDPR compliances intact and data safe.
- Smart contracts
Other than in cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology has found its use in other areas, such as smart contracts that enable monitoring, execution, compliance, and enforcement automation without legal input requirements.
Legal Practice Intelligence's article on Legal Operation: Future of Legal Industry?, states that the success in the legal industry will hinge on the adoption of efficient operation. The Corporate Legal Operation Consortium (CLOC) is one of the leading industry groups working to increase efficiencies for in-house legal so it can keep pace with modern business. CLOC provided a framework of 12 competencies that utilise technology explicitly. These frameworks include:
- Financial management
- Vendor management
- Cross-functional alignment
- Technology and process support
- Service delivery and alternative support models
- Organisational design, support, management
- Data analytics
- Litigation support and IP management
- Knowledge management
- Information governance and records management
- Strategic planning
The article also emphasises the rise in legal operation with non-lawyers invading law space in coming years. Adoption of technology is inevitable in such cases. Need-based legal tech will help streamline processes. Technology supports functions, and legal operation professionals can draw on the improving methods with the technology to reap maximum benefits.
Just the beginning
Australian Legal Technology Association's (ALTA's) Global Legal Technology Report (GLTR) 21/22 states a net positive revenue impact and client retention during COVID-19, indicating thriving legal tech businesses during the pandemic. The technical product yield demand has increased significantly in the wake of the digital environment. These facts point to the increased acceptability of legal tech in the legal industry.
Researchandmarket.com's report on legal analytics states the legal analytics market would see a rise with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.8% during the forecast period 2021-26. North America will be at the forefront of the market, with maximum market share.
Legal tech has indeed paved the way with its benefits as more and more law firms are exploring and adopting legal tech. Australasian Law Academic Association 2020/21 Volume 13/14 Tomoshanko and Hart's research, Teaching Technology Into Law Curriculum, shows that law schools are training the students with the latest legal tech, so the future of legal tech looks promising.
The new breed of law students will be tech-ready by the time they graduate, adopting technology right away at their workplace. More adoption will follow as more integrated legal tech products evolve, catering to the organisation's needs.