It’s no surprise that 2020 uncovered new challenges for a lot of businesses, including law firms. And we can likely expect the effects of COVID-19 to drive most of the industry changes and legal tech trends that we will see in 2021.
Many firms have already started to adapt their business practices to meet new work from home requirements and challenging economic conditions. This will likely cause a variety of long term changes, some of which will be temporary and some that will be permanent.
Here are some changes and legal tech trends that we might see in 2021-
Legal Tech Defined
Legal technology, or legal tech, is a term that refers to the introduction of technology and software solutions at law firms or legal service providers that are designed to support the legal industry. Many solutions already exist that were designed to help law firms increase efficiency and attract new clients.
Legal Tech Trend #1: Diversity and inclusion
Along with COVID-19, 2020 brought attention to the racial injustices in the US and the need for diversity and inclusion initiatives. Data shows that law firms are still struggling with improving their leadership diversity and inclusive cultures. It has become more clear to firms that they need to take steps towards these initiatives in the coming year.
So far, over 117 firms have signed the Mansfield Rule initiative which provides a program that helps firms create protocols around their hiring and promotion processes. These initiatives are designed to increase diversity in leadership rankings.
However, there are more factors that influence a lawyers success and likeliness to get a promotion at the firm than these initiatives. In a recent podcast episode we recorded, Joshua Fireman touches on the impact an attorney’s first case at the firm has on the rest of their career, as it sets the foundation for the rest of their time there. Here is an excerpt from that episode:
“For example, if two associates start at the same firm and the same time, and they both fulfill the same amount of hours, they are theoretically on a similar path. But it is common that one of those associates may have worked on 2 high profile matters, versus the other may have worked on 15 smaller matters. This directly impacts the rest of their career path. When the next big deal comes to the firm, one of them will have more experience working on higher profile matters and will be more likely to get assigned the matter.
Joshua said that he “understands that there is always a level of subjectivity and inherent biases, especially at law firms. And what that often contributes to is women, minority groups, members of the LGBTQ+ community often don’t receive the same work. And that sets these groups of individuals on a different path”.
And a lot of firms do want to look at their diversity, but they do diversity analysis after the fact. Asking “how diverse are we?” is the wrong question. You don’t need to run a report to know that law firms typically aren’t diverse, more specifically in leadership. And by the time someone is up for partner, it’s too late to make the changes needed. In this way a lot of firms are losing quality candidates along the way, simply because of the path.”
The conversation of how technology can both negatively and positively impact diversity initiatives will become more common as we see firms make diversity a priority.
Legal Tech Trend #2: The move to digital
With the recent move to more attorneys and legal professionals working from home, communication has had to completely evolve. Meetings have had to move online and a lot of clients have utilized virtual communication to discuss their case. Even something as small as signing documents has now become digital.
This new introduction of technology may seem temporary, but we will likely see an increase in demand for telecommunication from clients in the future.
In addition to communication channels, there has been an increased need for hosting legal documents in the cloud, something that a lot of law firms previously had prohibited. This has evolved the need for robust collaborative software and platforms for experience management, pitch and proposal generations, Chambers submission documents, as well as ways to share necessary information with clients.
Along with efforts to ensure the firm chooses the right software and platforms to accomplish their goals, with all these new technical solutions and practices, another change we will likely see is more demand for tech support within firms.
Legal Tech Trend #3 Cyber security
Cyber security has always been important for law firms, but in the last year the FBI reported that there was a significant increase in the number of cyberattacks committed in 2020, averaging 3,000-4,000 attacks a day.
Firms of all sizes will see an increased need to focus on securing their data as more and more of it is stored in the cloud. If firms haven’t already, they will likely soon need to hire cyber security professionals or allocate a portion of their budget to cyber security.
Legal Tech Trend #4 Automation of administrative work
A huge benefit of more firms adopting technology and cloud based products is that they are becoming more willing to adopt other new technology solutions that they otherwise would have been hesitant to implement.
There are many solutions out there designed to help law firms be more efficient and automate processes that were otherwise time-consuming, administrative work. Examples of these solutions are: experience management platforms, time and billing systems, proposal generators, Chamber submission tools, and so much more.
ikaun is one prime example of these solutions! The ikaun team has created a world-class experience management platform for the legal industry and we invite you to sign up for a live demo or start a free trial today!
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