While the COVID-19 pandemic might have introduced a “new normal,” if you are a forward-thinking law firm, you were probably increasingly reliant on digitalization long before 2020 happened.
As you continue to work digitally in the coming years, ensuring you have an amazing legal tech tool or tools as part of your tech stack will keep you at the forefront of the legal industry.
Understanding which tech will have the biggest impact
As much as we love legal tech, we cannot sit here and tell you which tools to use in your legal practice. The answer will be unique to you!
However, we can certainly point you in the right direction!
Step 1: Understanding where you need assistance
Your practice will have things you do well, and things you do not so well. Like any business in any industry around the world.
While legal tech is fantastic, if you invest in a tool just because you think you should be using legal tech, it is not going to work out for you. Take an umbrella view of your law firm. What do you need help with? What challenges do you face that create bottlenecks or operational difficulties? Where you can embrace digitalization to an even greater extent?
We will explore what some of these challenges and adaptations you may wish to make shortly.
Once you know this, you can start to think about the type of legal tech tool that will work for you.
Step 2: Knowing the type of tool you need
Broadly speaking, there are two types of legal tech tools: all-in-one tools that allow you to do most, if not all, of your firm’s tasks in the same place, and highly specialized, focused tools that provide a solution in one specific area, such as compliance.
How do you know what you need? The answer might depend on where you are currently at in terms of using legal tech. If you only need help in improving one specific area of your practice, a specialized solution will do the trick. On the other hand, if you are not as digitally-led as you would like to be right now, an all-in-one solution might have the most profound impact and make the biggest difference to your practice.
What digital challenges does your business face?
To help you understand where your challenges around digitalization might lie - particularly if legal tech is new to you - let us take a look at some of the most common.
Storage and collaboration
We all know someone who still works in an organization that still saves its documents on a local network. What is even more common are law firms and businesses that somehow still manage to operate by sharing essential documents and contracts as email attachments. The volume of time wasted working this way is colossal. Finding the one person who has the most up-to-date version of a document is neither a sustainable way of working nor genuine collaboration.
Repetitive, often low-value, workflows and tasks
Think about all the admin-type tasks you perform in your practice. I would wager that most of them are repetitive, hugely draining on your time and that you would benefit massively from not having to do them.
Such tasks can be anything from performing legal research to writing and proofing documentation.
Cross-border challenges, including data security and integrity
Digitalization is helping firms to increasingly provide services on a cross-border basis.
While this offers a fantastic gateway to accelerated growth, it also presents a raft of potentially complex challenges. Unlike what may have previously been the case, these challenges are not so much related to logistics but around meeting legal requirements and data security and integrity standards.
For example, a practice offering services within the EU - or whose clients operate in the EU - will need to be GDPR aware and/or compliant, wherever they are based.
It might seem strange to say that being client-centric is a challenge for businesses. Still, it has been an interesting side-effect of the increasing drive towards digitalization.
Where services are being delivered remotely on an increasingly frequent basis, you must meet the challenge of marrying remote workflows to a connected, client-centric experience. However, the delivery of services remotely has not changed client expectations. As well as direct service delivery, there are also challenges around self-service requirements to meet.
Adapting to fast-evolving tech trends
Tech moves so quickly that you can go from visionary innovator to boomer with the release of a new app. While no one expects your practice to jump from fad platform to fad platform at the same frequency as Elon Musk tweets something weird, you must be ready to embrace new tech when appropriate, as your clients will hold that expectation of you.
Integrating apps and workflows
First came the rush among businesses and some law firms to build the biggest tech stack they possibly could. Followed by the vain lists of “check out our partners” like signing up for Basecamp was a worthy addition to a portfolio.
Thankfully, things are a little more sensible now. However, streamlining your tech stack and operations is still reliant on ensuring your apps and workflows can integrate effectively and take care of themselves.
What are the different types of legal tech solutions?
The one thing all these challenges have in common? They can all be met by investing in a legal tech platform!
Your storage solution should, by default, also become your collaboration solution.
The challenge around storage and collaboration are not around finding such tools, but finding the tools that work for you.
What makes a good storage and collaboration tool?
- Security features and version tracking.
- Simple organization and document hierarchies.
- Permission levels for relevant users to edit, view, or download contracts and other documents.
- The ability to work on a document and make edits without leaving the app, saving the need to download and re-upload documents.
Automation software has the potential to bring significant benefits to your business in a traditional legal sense as well as for service delivery.
For example, with automation software, you can:
- Automate contract and document creation.
- Create smart and self-executing contracts.
- Introduce self-service elements to your business, whatever you provide, and minimize how involved you need to be with direct customer interactions.
- Take care of other repetitive tasks like accounting.
There is even the opportunity to use solutions like chatbot software to automate a considerable portion of your digital service operation.
Research & eDiscovery platforms
In a traditional legal sense, tech-driven research & eDiscovery platforms are becoming increasingly prevalent and have the potential to save a business masses of time.
Think about the process for researching a specific case or needing to find precedents to give advice. Unless you had worked on something yourself in the recent past, this process might see you need to have a team of legal researchers working for days to find the data you need. Instead, an AI-powered research platform can do the job for you in a matter of hours. As well as saving you time, this also makes your business scalable to a vast extent as you can do far more with much less.
If you are using a legal tech platform that provides contract templates and document automation, these should have built in compliance tools to ensure you are not sending documents to a business in the EU, for example, that do not meet GDPR regulations.
However, if you are not using a legal tech platform on a broad level, you will also find specific compliance software that will enable your business to operate across borders without falling foul of local legislation.
AI review tools
AI review tools take care of all your contract and document review needs, typically working against a set of policies or guidelines that you upload. Doing this allows the review tool to check your contracts or documents (or those sent to you) for anything that contravenes your policies or that is unacceptable to you or your clients.
While basic AI review tools simply flag these contraventions, the best offer suggested edits in the same way a human would, meaning all you need to do is conduct a review, and return it to the other party. You can even automate that process if you wish!
One challenge around digitalization in the legal space is how often you may need to collaborate with other lawyers or stakeholders, particularly in arbitration cases. If each party is using different tools, collaboration becomes more difficult and may add further tension to an already complex or awkward case.
Arbitration software gives you a platform that either you can use for yourself or across which you can collaborate or work through arbitration with another legal firm or your clients.
Digital signature apps
Digital signature apps might be one of the first modern tech adaptations you started using in your legal practice. If you use any type of legal tech for document creation, then this will include the ability for the recipient to add a digital signature. However, it is still worth considering having a standalone app just in case you need to sign documents and you get people sending you the dreaded PDFs!
Client portals are ideal for long-term casework management, communication, and are brilliant if you act as an outsourced legal team on a retained basis.
They are also great for bringing some consistency to how you communicate and can be a gamechanger for productivity, especially if you have integrations that allow for automated document sending and updates or have junior team members and interns who take care of administrative client tasks.
3 awesome legal tech solutions to help you meet all your challenges
There are dozens of brilliant legal tech tools out there. Still, when you are looking to keep your tech stack lean and focused on what will make the most significant difference to your business, these are all you need.
Best for meeting which digital challenges? All of them!
Contractbook is an all-in-one legal tech solution that will take care of all your document automation needs while ensuring you remain legally compliant, wherever you serve clients and customers. Contractbook also makes collaboration hassle-free and effortlessly integrates with all the other apps in your tech stack via Zapier.
Best for automated document reviews
How much time and money does your legal practice spend on contract and document review?
LawGeex automates all your document review needs, using AI to check contracts and edit them as a human would. All you need to do is tell the platform your “rules” and policies, and it will take any contract you are sent and review, edit, and return it for you! Hours of poring over a document with your colleagues and internal compliance team turned into a finished job in a matter of minutes!
Great for legal tools with integrated CRM.
Clio is a useful solution if you want an in-built CRM as part of your legal tech stack. As such, it is suitable for legal firms who want to have all their client onboarding in one place, although again most other legal tech platforms will offer integrations with your existing CRM, which may be easier than migrating your data to a new platform.
Utilizing legal tech solutions in your business
Legal tech has the potential to help you meet all your digital challenges, probably way beyond what you thought was possible.
Learn more about how Contractbook can help you here, and sign up our newsletter to keep up to date with legal tech developments and thought leadership via our legal tech institute.