What will it take to succeed as a lawyer in 2022? In the context of the global pandemic and the implications it will have on industries worldwide, staying current with legal technology trends is now more imperative than ever. Here are our top ten;
A rapid adoption of digital technologies
Consumer behaviour is shifting to digital at a faster pace. Those firms that embrace digital and meet their clients where they are searching are most likely to thrive in this new reality. Ideally, this means placing yourself on Google My Business or other tools where potential clients conduct their research. Keeping your information accurate and up to date is therefore crucial.
Increased focus on client experience
The greater the ease of use, seamlessness, and transparency of the client experience, the more clients law firms will attract and the greater the quality of those cases will be. Consumers' digital expectations have been raised by an increasing number of companies prioritising and providing a convenient customer journey and clients are seeking the same from the legal sector. The only question is whether law firms will continue to evolve or get left behind.
Setting a higher standard for communication
There is little doubt that we have permanently changed the way we communicate and meet post-pandemic. Lawyers who have not already switched to a new approach to engage current and prospective clients need to do so. Firms need to engage clients across the entire lifecycle of the relationship, from inception to invoicing, with innovative new channels of seamless communication and collaboration.
Automating administrative procedures
Lawyers and law firms need to follow and adopt the technology that is revolutionizing the way basic administrative work can be automated. The legal industry remains burdened by labour-intensive work that is better handled by technology than by people. Any use of technology that allows lawyers to serve a much larger market has the potential to revolutionize the one-to-one model of legal practice.
Interest from government agencies and courts in digital interfaces
Those lawyers who regularly work with courts and other government agencies should pay attention to the digital interface providers, both for legal professionals and for the general public. There are only a few vendors doing this right now, and the Pandemic has forced many courts into online worlds they had not intended to join and stressed many systems, for example online Universal Credit applications. There is a real need for more competition in the market, which means more open source adoption, as well as more knowledge surrounding government purchasing decisions like data ownership.
More thoughtful, deliberate approaches to remote work
Embracing how technology can improve the efficiency of the distributed workforce model will be crucial for legal professionals. A large number of firms simply adopted the "just make it happen" mentality when it came to collaboration, mobility, and telecommuting during the Pandemic.
Now is the time to take a look at the tools firms are using, as well as the training legal professionals need to utilise the technology and make the experience equal to, or better than, when everyone was working out of the office. When done well, the return on investment will be high with long-term benefits for the firm.
Empathy as a priority in technology
Increasingly, consumers are wary and anxious; they want answers to their concerns quickly, but in a compassionate and empathic way. In order to stay competitive in today's market, lawyers always need to be on hand and accessible, available to answer questions, ease client anxiety or grab new leads, all while juggling their own lives.
Firms have already started investing in solutions that provide that personal touch and that trend is expected to continue in the coming year. Lawyers cannot work 24/7 but phones, social media and websites do, so identifying ways and means for other partners and members to 'be there' when you are not is imperative to a client's perception of your service. We are set to observe in the coming years that the success of a company will depend on its ability to provide clients with empathetic support and how accessible they will be 24/7.
Enhancing document automation
One of the single most significant trends will be continued improvements in document automation. With expedition from Covid, lawyers are already moving beyond 'wet-ink signatures'. There is a plethora of document signature software available now being widely adopted by lawyers. Firms now need to take a step further and move toward automated paperless document preparation too.
Continued adoption of industry-wide technologies
Video conferences, remote hearings, depositions, and mediations are likely to become unpopular when the world, particularly courts, reopened fully following the Pandemic. But this is a temporary state of affairs and it is expected that by the end of next year, we will begin to observe the positive outcomes of the recent tidal wave of technology adoption in the way court procedures and other legal events are conducted
This year's lessons will pave the way for distributed legal proceedings, which if done well, will have a far greater positive impact on access to justice than any other. Those who have been denied justice because of financial, physical, intellectual, or even emotional barriers in the past may need not continue to face such barriers in the future.
Delivering easier experiences through technology
Despite the inevitable fact that technology will become increasingly important, tech alone wil not be enough to save the practice of law. It will be the lawyers and firms that use technology effectively in harmony with human service to give their clients the best possible experience who will gain the most.