The modern lawyer is keen on making progressive decisions, and lately, the focus has been geared towards implementing technology into the legal practice. In 2018, investments in legal tech reached a jaw-dropping $1 billion USD, with more interest and funding expected, as investors and VCs continue to dive into the legal tech space.
The idea of taking innovative steps can sound exciting at first, but for those who are not accustomed, it can appear like “more work” since any potential shift can impact the business as a whole. At times, some may hesitate between “We’ve discovered an inefficiency” and “We’ve implemented a solution”. However it is important, in any business, to be observant and make an effort to assess what is working, and what no longer delivers. At the very least, avoid having to implement major changes urgently due to a catalyst, or by having to give staff the dreaded “Well, we’re behind the times, folks” update. This includes keeping track of inefficiencies that arise day-to-day, especially costly ones.
With new technologies moving to surpass limitations, and governing bodies continuing to determine how rules of practice management will mesh carefully with technological solutions, time will only continue to bring more deliberation and opportunity. In order to be at the forefront of the legal tech wave, there is no better time than now to start researching solutions and become aware of recent trends and upcoming developments within the field.
Integrations that improve law firm processes (once finely tuned) can bring firm productivity to new heights, and can work wonders for saving limited time and resources. Lawyers spend an incredible amount of time drafting, reviewing, negotiating, managing, and revising contracts, but that’s no longer necessary, as contract management and review analysis have now cut down the process. Contract management platforms increase productivity and minimize costs in the creation, delivery, and storage of contracts; and as an advanced feature, utilizing automation. Similarly, contract review software makes it much easier to review key provision by use of machine learning for speed and efficiency.
It’s worth mentioning blockchain’s impact on contract management. Tennessee and Arizona have recognized the growing influence of smart contracts on the blockchain, via regulation. In the future, blockchain may make a significant impact on how lawyers create, sign, store, and view contracts in a permanent, permissionless, and secure distributed ledger.
Internal File Sharing
In the customary process of sharing files within the legal practice, there is plenty of room to improve from accidentally overwriting files in network drives. In addition to the large number of mass-market cloud storage options currently available (Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft One, etc.), there are other solutions specifically intended for lawyers that provide customized security with an interface catered to law firm processes.
With the right precautions, firm data can be safely stored and transferred, with highly secure passwords, two-factor authentication, and keeping user access limited to the relevant parties.
Creating and Sending Invoices
Invoicing can be a tedious process if you don’t have the right tools in place. There are options that are far more progressive than manual invoice creation (let’s not start about Excel) and delivery. Automation can lend a robot-like helping hand in streamlining these tasks.
While the details of this process may vary slightly depending on your choice of legal application, most commonly provide an easy way of creating, sending, and managing invoices in a simple-to-use interface. Plus, invoices can also be easily synchronized with existing accounting software. By enabling online billing, lawyers can reduce the time spent tracking payments, receive payments faster, and introduce new payment methods and greater flexibility for clients.
Most firms look to online legal research databases to source information, yet there are more advanced tools on the way. Legal research, traditionally a time-consuming task, can become easier and faster by implementing chat bots, natural language processing, and inevitably, high-speed AI-driven search tools.
Whether you’re at the office, at home, or even commuting, you can now access a comprehensive database of cases on your mobile device. Research tool options are available in both app format, and via mobile-friendly website, and offer capabilities that surpass the once time-consuming process.
Tracking Billable Time
Electronic legal tools have made their impact on the once chaotic experience of trying to backtrack billable hours. By logging billable time into an online timesheet, getting an accurate representation of hours is easy without having to estimate, or round – removing human error from the equation.
The ability to track time electronically allows for automation of invoicing and accounting processes, and can provide data analytics for your team. It’s good to see where time is spent, and improve productivity.
Recent growth in the availability of legal technology has made it easy to accurately perform various administrative tasks through automation. While most legal work remains hands-on (for now), implementing legal tech can reduce the time spent on tasks that are delegable.
It doesn’t end here as many other applications of technology can maximize efficiencies in the law firm. It starts with a primary step – narrowing down on the work process.