The legal industry is under immense pressure to digitally transform its operations and services. Clients are juxtaposed, demanding digitalized experiences that offer more value than traditional legal services at lower costs and with greater accessibility throughout the day.
This is a hard ask for legal professionals, but with the Darwinian philosophy in mind: those who fail to adapt will fall behind.
Let us explore new paradigms that, in coming years, could transform the legal industry in terms of digitalization, legal technology trends, and online service provision.
1. Migrating From Traditional to Digital-First Service Delivery
The first area to explore is digital-first legal firms. Since 2011, when it was at $4.2 billion, the online legal services industry has more than doubled to $8.75 billion as of 2021. These companies make good use of digital tools such as LinkedIn, Google My Business, Facebook for Business, and others.
A digital presence is essential, and it makes sense as many customers are shifting online to seek out legal services. This online presence also evaporates geographical borders, opening new opportunities for legal firms in the national or international market. This is a fringe benefit of becoming digital-first — but mandates additional knowledge and certifications on legal frameworks overseas.
2. Greater Convenience and Transparency Within the Customer Experience
There’s no question, digital technologies enable a better customer experience. In the context of the legal industry, this includes video conferencing between clients and lawyers, digital documentation sharing, virtual signatures, and live chat conversations.
For legal firms, they must look at their existing communication methods and legal workflows. Everything from initial consultation through to sentencing has the potential to be digitalized, reducing travel requirements, expediting legal processes, and improving caseload transparency through the client lens.
3. Low-Level Administrative Task Automation in the Legal Industry
Low-level administrative tasks are a point of contention across all industries. The legal industry is particularly vulnerable to error when it comes to administrative tasks, making automation a worrying concept due to strict governance and privacy concerns.
In reality, the standardized nature of low-level administrative tasks offers an opportunity for legal firms to improve productivity and free up administrator hours via automation.
Legal document transcription and proofreading can be supplemented by artificial intelligence text-to-speech (TTS) engines to expedite the process. Traditional documentation processes involving faxing and postage can be replaced by online document sharing and signature platforms for immediate receipt and a lower carbon footprint.
Online court hearings can be orchestrated by online booking systems, reducing the number of reminder letters and telephone calls sent to clients. Any situation where a person must perform repetitive tasks is ripe for automation in the legal industry.
4. Client Support Availability in the Legal Industry
Traditional law firms have a group of partnered attorneys, administrators, and a reception team to handle client queries. Unfortunately, this also means customers have a limited time window — often nine-to-five — to communicate with their legal practitioner.
An important legal technology trend is digital service provision, which can improve client support availability through outsourcing. When the legal team leaves the office, a remote digital customer service team can step in to maintain contact and provide human support.
Clients have high expectations of availability and are less tolerant of a business being offline; to be digital-first is to be always-online and ready to help clients.
5. New Legal Business Operating Models in the Wake of COVID-19
The legal profession has always been synchronous, requiring the combined attendance of lawyers, defendants, the accused, and judiciary teams. While this ensures all sides have a voice and that all voices are heard, the reality is synchronizing all parties is difficult.
Digital services in the legal industry offer an opportunity for asynchronous legal proceedings. This means certain aspects of the legal process can go ahead without relying on the completion of other milestones, helping to expedite legal proceedings and reduce time spent per case for legal firms.
COVID-19 was a proof of concept, as many legal processes were adapted throughout the pandemic using digital technologies with resounding success.
6. Employee Performance Tracking for Legal Firms
All businesses track job performance to ensure employees are fulfilling their responsibilities. The legal industry is no exception, with all employees playing a role.
Sales legal departments market and promote legal services to customers, and key performance indicators (KPIs) — like client acquisition or movement towards the end of the sales funnel — can provide insight on performance.
Marketing legal departments can see click-through rates (CTR) and engagement metrics using digital marketing tools, monitoring the efficacy of expensive pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements online.
Attorney productivity dictates the caseload capacity of the business, and monitoring time spent per case with comparisons between team members can provide a sense of competition while improving the bottom line.
7. Client Data Protection After Digital Transformation
For law firms that undergo a digital transformation, they must consider cybersecurity and data protection. While data analysis opens opportunities for new legal insights, customer data is incredibly sensitive in the legal industry, as seen with the healthcare industry and personally identifiable information (PII).
Attorneys working for digital-first law firms will have a new and ongoing responsibility for cybersecurity. As more communication and documentation is delivered online, the responsibility for data governance, data protection, and data privacy will be greater than what is seen with traditional law firms.
The reality of digitalization has dawned upon every industry. However, given the pandemic and the recessionary environment, budgets are limited, legal teams are stretched, making it critical to get things right the first time. When you do not transform successfully it impacts the entire firm's ability to survive.
Trianz has helped law firms of all sizes develop, deploy, and scale the tools and processes needed to give them a competitive edge. Whether your firm is just beginning its digital journey or engaged in multiple transformation efforts, we are here to help you simplify your transformation and provide a superior customer and employee experience.
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