The past few years have seen innovative solutions and techniques transform the legal industry across the board. Accordingly, law firms have had to shift their approaches and adopt new effective methods of operating, acknowledging that such an adjustment is essential for surviving the digital age.
As a result, various ‘trends’ have emerged within the legal profession, allowing it to stay relevant and cater to the current technological climate of 2019.
A brief peek at today’s legal arena is enough to see clearly – technology is the fundamental change that has altered and remodeled the legal field. In a world where everything and everyone has an online presence, so too should lawyers and law firms.
There are various elements that fall under ‘technology’ which law firms ought to emphasize and in which they should be prepared to invest. These include, among others, effective social media management, mobility, cybersecurity as well as artificial intelligence. The other ‘trend’ that is clearly apparent is the multi-generational workforce. All these will be elaborated on below.
Technology has greatly influenced not only our day-to-day life but also the legal profession as a whole. Law firms that embrace technology are not only more efficient in terms of their use of time and money, but are also more likely to survive the stiff competition. It has become clear that complacency is not an option; the legal industry needs to take that step and embrace and enforce various technological systems and devices.
(2) Social media and online presence
Social media and maintaining an online presence is the first vital component to law firms seeking to remain relevant in 2019 – this is one of the chief ways of connecting with the public and harvesting future clients. There has been an increase in lawyers who utilize various social media outlets, such as YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs and podcasts. All these not only provide a new level of legal access to people but they also offer legal professionals various aids to satisfy numerous objectives; that is, they allow them to create networks, recruit possible employees, job search and also advertise. They are afforded all these possibilities while using minimal time and resources.
However, in order to gain these benefits, it is vital that lawyers construct a meaningful and interactive online presence. These days, the search for a prospective lawyer begins online, where hundreds of thousands of results will surface with each search.
In order to stand out, it is important for a law firm to create a meaningful database, complete with reviews and testimonials from previous clients. It is also important to utilize appealing marketing strategies. These include alluring and interesting visual and verbal clues, such as videos and smart speakers. It is believed that this year, the use of videos will be a huge marketing tactic, specifically as a creative and appealing way to depict your story or brand. These include webinars, live streams, and interesting short films.
(3) Mobility and mobile services
We live in an age of instant gratification, where everything and anything is available at the click of a button. Lawyers should also have this level of virtual connection to their work. Clients expect lawyers to send documents and files on demand. It is therefore essential that lawyers have access to client files and legal resources on a mobile device and can communicate at any time or place with clients. Mobility includes the usage of cloud services, video conferencing and online services.
Similarly, if the same system were to be implemented in the courtroom, lawyers would be relieved of unnecessary stress and preparation. Prior to court, lawyers should have all essential documents loaded on either a cloud service or device. Such innovations can serve to avert courtroom disasters – such as, for example, misplacing the required documents – from occurring.
These points extend into the concept of ‘virtual law firms’. Mobile services are transforming the way lawyers traditionally practice and go about their jobs. It affords them the opportunities to use videoconferences instead of traveling – as well as have a more flexible work schedule. It allows one to work from home or from the office without compromising the standard of work. Overall, the usage of this technology eliminates a lot of pressure and work to which lawyers would previously have been subjected.
Along with the development and implementation of technology, so too has cybersecurity been a genuine concern and problem among various industries. It was estimated that 60% of law firms have experienced some sort of security breach during recent years. In 2019, it is crucial for legal professionals to focus on protecting sensitive data and materials. Cyber hackers can access legal databases and cause major security breaches, including cloud infiltration, phishing attacks and more. This is a serious matter as it not only breaks client confidentiality but also hinders the legitimacy and standard of a given law firm.
(5) Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence has also become an emerging feature in the legal profession. In the legal arena, artificial intelligence (AI) centers on machines conducting mundane, labor-intensive tasks, which would previously have taken lawyers hours to complete. These machines are capable of managing and reviewing legal contracts, powerful analytic components as well as legal research. It can yield more effective and accurate results than an experienced lawyer, as well as analyze an entire contract in minimal time. This technology allows lawyers to work smarter, and not harder. It affords them the opportunity to focus on other tasks, such as litigation, casework and attending to clients needs. In this way, it saves resources and promotes productivity. The introduction of this machinery in law firms is not only forward-thinking but it also gives a company the ultimate competitive edge, one that will no doubt redefine the future of the legal industry.
(6) Multi-generational workforce
2019 has seen millennials flooding the workspace, leading to an era in which four different generations are working side by side. In this multi-generational professional environment, it is important that all needs and perspectives are honored and honed appropriately. The Y and Z generation are infiltrating the working world, leading to the generation of new, fresh, and pioneering ideas.
This is a generation that grew up with tablets and iPhones at their fingertips – literally. As such, many are accustomed to almost everything being digitalized and are uninhibited to engage with innovative technologies. It is imperative that the older demographic also employ these new strategies. This will be a vital component in them, and the company, staying relevant in 2019. Many obvious challenges will have to be overcome. However, the truth is, that we live in a technological world, fast changing and ever improving – the industry needs to adapt accordingly.
Therefore, as 2019 progresses, it is clear that there are many different ‘trends’ that law firms need to prioritize and incorporate in their companies. Technology has worked its way into the professional field, and the legal occupation needs to not only take advantage, but also be at the forefront of these revolutionary transformations.