The past decade was the period where we’ve seen the most significant changes happen in the history of the entire legal profession.
Historically speaking, this industry was always impervious to change. However, even it couldn’t hold its ground against the juggernaut called technology, especially when technology was the key factor in changing the expectations of regular clients forever.
We’re going to look at the most significant changes in the legal industry that happened this decade. By the end, you will get an idea of whether you are the trailblazer or a legal professional about to be left behind.
1. The rise of AI-powered legal technology
Once lawyers abandoned the ‘’machines will conquer us’’ narrative and accepted the notion that artificial intelligence is just another tool at their disposal, the market for AI in legal tech blew right open.
AI became a go-to solution for speeding up time-consuming processes such as e-billing, e-discovery, contract reviewing, and legal research.
You can observe the most apparent game-changer when considering the impact of AI legal tech on the backbone of the law profession — legal documents.
Software for legal documents is the prime example of how technology rendered ‘’manual labor’’ useless. For instance, reviewing and editing contracts used to be a time-intensive endeavor that would take too much effort, requiring a lot of back and forth to make sure everything checks out.
But now, AI-based contract review tools such as Loio automatically scan legal documents, then highlight the key details and group them for easy access. This feature alone can ensure your contract has no errors at a fraction of the time.
The same machine learning algorithms also let you make rapid changes to your contracts by fixing formatting issues, or even editing numbering and lists with minimum effort.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what AI can do. It helps conduct more quality research or uses analytics to help you predict future outcomes, so we are eager to see how far AI legal technology can go in the future.
2. The client-centered approach
The biggest side effect of the digital transformation was the shift in client expectations. Similar to the way Amazon set new customer standards when it comes to shopping online, so did the legal industry as well.
Businesses today need to be tailored towards the clients’ demands. Law firms had to adjust their services to meet the demands of the market and stay relevant.
That meant addressing customer’s legal issues fast, at affordable prices, akin to ordering items on Amazon. Legal tech again swooped in to save the day, enabling forward-thinking law firms to consider things such as client journey and client experience from a new angle.
A prominent example of this transition is the growing use of chatbots. Having a legal chatbot on your site allows your clients to get introduced to your services before even making an appointment, and it can help you complete the client intake process automatically, outside of regular business hours.
All the other legal tech on the market that facilitates faster processes allowed lawyers to devote more time to clients, rather than spending hours reviewing contracts.
3. The accessibility of legal services
Another huge disruption in the industry happened when legal services became more affordable and accessible.
Despite never losing their jobs, lawyers did experience a price drop as a result of these changes.
Paralegals and legal professionals began offering services for a lower price than lawyers. As a result, clients now have access to cheap legal services, and lawyers have to find ways to compete with these new rivals.
The same thing happened with online legal services. A service like LegalZoom provides businesses and individuals with legal assistance for a fraction of the price of traditional legal counsel.
4. Reaching for the cloud
While cloud-based platforms for lawyers were gaining traction over the last few years, the final push happened quite recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When faced with the need to work remotely, many law firms switched to cloud-based platforms as a means to an end.
Almost overnight, both the delivery and operations of legal services changed. It became obvious that cloud-based legal technology such as legal practice management solutions can improve productivity and organization at a lower cost than their on-premise counterparts.
The first advantage of cloud storage is that the files are accessible from anywhere, and they can be accessed from any device.
In terms of price, these solutions are quite scalable and do not require a substantial investment in infrastructure. It’s a straightforward way to future-proof a law firm.
With that said, the widespread migration to the cloud has raised a lot of security concerns, and it became a buzzword in the legal community. It’s likely we will see a new wave of legal tech innovation addressing the aspect of cybersecurity.
5. Digital presence became a norm
Back in the day, the larger law firms had one massive advantage: they could always rely on massive advertising campaigns and billboards to increase their traffic. It took time,, but the Internet eventually leveled the playing field for smaller firms and solo practitioners who could finally compete with their larger counterparts.
Most people find lawyers these days through Google, so it quickly became important for law firms to become more visible online in order to grow their business.
Digital marketing for law firms is now a necessity in a world that has become more digital. Online presence is a norm, and digital marketing is making it possible to stand out in a market where competition has never been fiercer.
Everyone’s a winner
As you can see, technology was a primary driver in the transformation of the legal industry. The digital era made it possible for everyone, regardless of their financial power, to receive services that were previously largely inaccessible, such as legal counseling, for example.
While it took time for legal professionals to get familiar with the changing landscape of practicing law, technology also made it possible for them to adapt and even grow in the face of these new challenges.
In the end, everyone wins.