New legal technologies have radically transformed law firms in recent years. At the same time tech has improved the services firms can offer their clients, it has also had an effect on the skills your legal professionals need — and will need.
In particular, we’ve seen increased demand for clerks and paralegals with experience working with electronically discoverable material. Robert Half’s new report, Jobs and AI Anxiety, explores the impact of digital change in the legal field, finding that technology is spurring the use of project teams assembled for eDiscovery and litigation support initiatives.
As standard practices and procedures within the field evolve, legal professionals are more dependent than ever on technology. To succeed, legal organizations need proactive managing attorneys, paralegals and legal administrators who are aware of the opportunities and challenges presented by technology.
Make sure you’re prepared to lead your team into the future by understanding and knowing how to leverage the following five legal technologies:
1. Cloud-based services
Most people have at least heard of “the cloud” or “cloud computing,” which refers to digital services delivered primarily over the internet instead of running on a local network, such as legal practice management systems like Clio and Rocket Matter.
Cloud technology solves several problems for legal managers and their firms. One is the issue of costly in-house data storage, including information that must be retained due to legal holds. Cloud storage providers offer secure, scalable solutions at a reasonable cost. Additionally, these applications make it easier for you and your teams to collaborate remotely.
Fifty-nine percent of chief legal officers and general counsel polled in the Robert Half Legal Future Law Office 2020 report said data breaches were a top concern, with 22 percent reporting having a breach in the past two years. Cybersecurity threats are continually evolving, requiring adaptable and up-to-date security procedures. This means legal administrators need to keep cybersecurity in mind at all times, regardless of how small a transition to a new process may seem. The most vulnerable part of any IT system is the user. Be certain your staff follow a strict security protocol, from selecting strong passwords to ensuring the physical security of their devices.
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Analytics — or the science of finding patterns in data — is key in an age when legal professionals have access to massive stores of knowledge and statistics. Firms now regularly rely on legal technologies like Westlaw Edge and Lexis Analytics to examine data such as a judge’s record or the profile of opposing counsel. This makes it possible to form a data-driven litigation strategy by identifying the approach with the highest probability of success.
You may want to consider cultivating an in-house analytics team or engaging outside experts to help you deal with the ever-growing quantities of data related to each case.
4. Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT refers to the growing network of smart devices all around us that talk to each other and interact without the need for human involvement. They range from wearables and webcams to industrial monitoring equipment, which produces data lakes — a vast amount of raw data that is stored until needed.
Because much of this information may constitute EDI during eDiscovery, your firm will need the ability to retain and process it. This is where leaders will find that an analytics capacity is essential, as it’s impossible to deal with this quantity of data using traditional techniques. Legal administrators will also benefit from having a general understanding of how the IoT works so you can instruct teams on where to look for relevant data.
5. Artificial intelligence (AI)
Although AI is already making waves in legal organizations, the technology is still in the early stages of development. Natural language processing is a branch of AI that focuses on turning unstructured data — such as piles of handwritten documents — into structured formats that can be stored electronically and analyzed. Likewise, machine learning, an application of AI, can take data and learn from it without human intervention. Contract review, for example, is an area where machine learning is widely used to automate jobs previously performed by legal teams.
Stay abreast of legal technologies
In the coming years, the pace of technology-related change is only going to accelerate. If you are a managing partner, paralegal or legal administrator, you should keep up with emerging trends in all of these technologies so you can identify ways to incorporate them into the firm’s operations and train others on your teams. When implemented properly, advances in legal technologies can help you improve the services you offer clients while lowering costs.