The magnitude of how technology has changed the landscape of the legal profession so far is quite astounding, considering how legal professionals used to be insistent on sticking to the status quo.
The digital revolution made practicing law significantly easier by supplying lawyers with tools that streamlined parts of their previously outdated workflow, from researching case files to client relations.
As law firms are working remotely and switching to a client-centric approach, now is the right time to consider how the latest IT developments will further impact the legal industry.
1. More automation in the workplace
With clients demanding law firms to be faster, cost-effective, and more flexible, law professionals have embraced automation and law firm software as solutions for growing customer expectations. Automation, in particular, helped law firms save time and deliver more productive results.
As one of the more obvious examples, the client intake process used to involve a series of tedious tasks, from client interviews to conflict checking. However, automated client intake digitalizes data collection while automating the key process components. This effectively saves up a lot of time for the attorneys and other legal professionals they can spend on other important tasks.
Since automation is currently one of the best ways to increase efficiency and profitability, we can expect more developments in the future as this trend becomes even more widespread across the legal industry.
2. New technology leveraging artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is finally becoming an integral part of legal technology. As an illustration of this fact, AI is influencing the way legal professionals do legal research with the increased use of natural language processing (NLP), where through human language AI uses context and previous searches and results to predict what users need.
AI is also playing a major role in streamlining the process of contract review through the applied use of machine learning for scanning and identifying key contract details, as well as providing suggestions for better writing.
Another noteworthy development is Intelligent Process Automation (IPA). Using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data, IPA allows intelligent bots to learn and improve over time. This means bots aren’t limited only to the programming conditional statement of ‘’if this, then that’’ but play a bigger role in eliminating repetitive tasks and simplifying interactions and processes.
With the legal industry going through a period of innovation, it will be interesting to see how IPA influences automation in the legal profession.
3. Virtual assistants and AI chatbots
The growing popularity of virtual assistants in the legal field shouldn’t come as a surprise since they offer a solution to the increasing number of internal questions law firms have to deal with. Hence, virtual legal assistant (VLA) services geared specifically to law firms. These route calls to a virtual receptionist that answers them, takes messages, or even handles appointments and client intake.
To illustrate how important these are becoming, Gartner estimates VLAs will account for up to 25% of internal legal requests by 2023.
Another practical tool being used more and more in the legal sector is AI chatbots, used to enhance customer communication and add an interactive element to it. After adding it to a website, the chatbot can schedule appointments, capture leads, and do client intake. As a result, law firms can direct their attention to more challenging work.
4. The emergence of voice technology in the legal industry
Even though lawyers haven’t yet embraced modern voice technology, this might change in the future, as voice recognition software made for legal purposes is starting to get implemented more frequently.
Legal professionals still use typing as a primary data input method while also relying on manual transcriptions. This is, of course, very time-consuming.
Speech-to-text is undoubtedly faster, especially today when speech recognition harnesses the power of AI to accurately translate natural speech to ‘’paper’’. Certain solutions in the market are also made for legal purposes, and contain specialized legal vocabularies, allowing lawyers to dictate legal documents faster without any errors.
5. Virtual reality in the legal profession
Implementation of this technology might seem like a stretch right now due to limited content and relatively high cost. But using virtual and augmented reality in the study of legal can offer major benefits.
There are at least two reasons to look forward to seeing the implementation of VR technology. For legal teams working apart and maintaining social distance, VR could be key to increasing team spirit and collaboration by simulating a traditional working environment.
But the biggest benefit VR would bring to the table would be improved presentation of evidence during litigation. Imagine showing the virtual crime scene to the judge or the jury. With VR, everyone in the courtroom would have better accessibility to the evidence presented.
A further shift towards digital
In 2020, law professionals showed their eagerness to adopt new technologies and innovate. This spells out good news for the ongoing legal tech boom. More professionals and law firms on board give tech companies more incentive to innovate even further.
In the future, we can expect more tasks to get automated, while at the same time, widespread use of new VLA’s and chatbots will help save money and time, and give clients a faster, more accessible response. There will be no objections this time around.