When COVID-19 disrupted the legal processes and operations across the world, law firms had no option but to make a shift to remote working. It is not just the law firms who have made this shift as almost every business that has been impacted by the pandemic has opted for remote working solutions. But as they say, you must lookout for opportunities within the challenges; so is becoming the scenario for law firms.
This immediate shift has made law firms realize the potential/benefits associated with remote working and technology usage. While a majority of law firms have transformed digitally, others are fast-acting upon the same. So, let us dig deeper into the ways technology is and will be re-shaping remote working for law firms in the future.
Essential Stats and Facts about Legal Technology
- According to Global Workplace Analytics, 7 million professionals in the U.S. work from home for at least thrice a week.
- As per a Zion Market Research report, in 2018, the value of the worldwide AI legal technology market was approximately $3.2 billion and is expected to reach $37.8 billion by the end of 2026.
- The Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory study revealed that almost 53% of lawyers throughout Europe and the U.S. are of the view that technology investment will multiply in the coming 3 years at their legal firms.
- According to the ABA Technology Survey, 17% of lawyers use some sort of litigation support software.
- The same survey revealed that 89% of attorneys now use their mobiles to check and respond quickly to client emails.
Top Technologies aiding Legal Remote Working
- eFiling: With e-filing, lawyers can file papers electronically since the Federal and State courts are now posting filings over online databases, permitting attorneys to receive and use court credentials remotely.
- Video Conferencing: With the video conferencing technology, lawyers can communicate with their team members and clients remotely. Apart from this, instant messaging, voicemail, and email also serves multiple communication purposes.
- Cloud: Various project management and collaboration technologies like Microsoft Office 365 help the entire legal team to work on the same page, along with letting them communicate with each other in solving queries related to cases and otherwise.
- Digital Case Management: Law firms are now using digital case management solutions to organize, schedule, and store essential dates, documents, contact lists, billing data, and more in a centralized database that provides easy access to the legal teams.
- eDiscovery: Attorneys are using eDiscovery or electronic database discovery to research valuable and related case information after reviewing a plethora of electronic documents. Also, automation and advanced analytics help speed up the process through keywords and phrases.
- Outsourcing: It doesn’t really matter for lawyers from where they are working; office or remotely as they will always have a plethora of non-core tasks to handle. These unproductive back-office tasks come in the way of lawyers in serving clients in a timely and efficient manner. The best way to resolve this issue during remote working or otherwise is to opt for legal process outsourcing services. The outsourcing technology enables lawyers to save time/efforts and utilize the same in devising strategies for growth and scalability while the third-party professionals take care of their legal back-office tasks.
- Smart Contracts: Smart contracts are fast taking over paper contracts through the use of blockchain technology. Even client signatures can be collected digitally, using retina-scanning as a witness, and verifying the same with blockchain to form legal contracts.
- ChatBots: Lawyer chatbots can easily understand the concerns of clients using artificial intelligence and resolve the same spontaneously using automation.
Remote Working Set-Up Requirements
For lawyers to make a shift to remote working partially or completely, the following set-up requirements are essential:
- Highs-Speed Connectivity: Of course, this is the first requirement for going remote. Without high-speed internet, working remotely is not going to be highly effective as it can be.
- Operating System: You must choose between Apple OS or Microsoft OS as per your requirements and budgets.
- Processing Speed: If your law firm has a plethora of work to do, you should go for a faster processor (having a minimum of 3.2 GHz processing speed) that can execute tasks with high speed.
- Memory (RAM): For fast data access, higher RAM is needed, with 8GB considered to be the traditional choice for business purposes.
- Essential Software: You can use popular software such as Clio, Bill4Time, legal files, Amicus attorney, LexisNexis, Westlaw, PC law to make the day-to-day legal operations easier.
- Financial and Accounting: If you want to focus on legal matters and not on your businesses other chores like accounting; install top financial and accounting software to take care of the same.
- Billing and Timekeeping: Layers need to bill against every hour they spend working on a case, and for this, having a billing and timekeeping software is a must.
- Data: Legal trials involve large amounts of data collection and storage. Cloud software is considered to be the best option when it comes to storing data in a safe, easily accessible, and shareable manner.
#Data Security Tip: When choosing a data software, make sure it is high in SSL, encryption, and other security features.
- eDiscovery: There are a lot of eDiscovery software options out there that can take care of the legal research work on your behalf. A must-one for attorneys!
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Every successful legal firm knows the importance of maintaining and using client information from Day 1. So, having a robust CRM system installed in your system is recommended to increase client retention and acquisition.
Legal Remote Working Benefits
- Time-Saving: Time gets saved tremendously for both clients and lawyers as with the remote working option; there are no more parking and traffic issues.
- Cost-Saving: A huge amount of cost gets saved with remote working due to the reduced/minimal expense of administrative staff and overheads.
- Working Flexibility: With remote working, legal professionals (especially women) get flexibility in working that leads to a better work-life balance for them.
- Enhanced Productivity: When lawyers and junior staff are able to maintain the perfect work-life balance as per their individual lives, it leads to increased focus and productivity in work.
- Increased Security: Just as we discussed above, investing in robust security solutions will help secure your law firm’s data against the rising cyberattacks. The only thing that is imperative here is that you must teach your employees to use it responsibly.
Undoubtedly, technology is changing the way legal firms operate in current times. Due to corona pandemic, law firms have realized the importance of keeping the remote working option open even after the pandemic is over due to the multiple benefits associated with it.
New trends will surely emerge in technology with the passing of time, but as of now, the present technologies being used in the legal industry are refining every internal as well as external process of the law firms. So, if a law firm wants to outshine its peers, it will have to invest in technology at the earliest and incorporate its use to keep employees and clients happy, satisfied, and associated for long-term.