Technology has caused massive disruption in the legal sector, one of the oldest professional services of all. These transformative changes have introduced both risk and opportunity, and they’ve changed many facets of the industry beyond recognition in recent years. Among these are the rise of online legal services, electronic discovery, and remote working.
While the role of a lawyer is never going to be replaced, technology has changed the way they do their jobs, affording them opportunities to resolve cases faster, onboard more clients, and increase billable hours. At the same time, the risks are increasing as cybercriminals and state-sponsored attackers target the sector for the vast treasure trove of valuable data it holds.
Here’s how the next decade of technological advancement will continue to reshape law:
The changing face of legal discovery
Traditionally, the bulk of the work involved with running a legal practice would go into putting together cases by collating documents from a vast range of sources. That’s still the case, but lawyers are no longer dealing just with paper documents. In fact, they probably shouldn’t be dealing with paper documents at all anymore when it comes to case management.
Electronic discovery platforms continue to advance, pulling together information from an ever-wider range of sources. These include paper documents spanning years or even decades, which can be scanned into a computer and made searchable through optical character recognition (OCR) technology. Modern case management systems allow lawyers to search for key data in minutes as opposed to hours and days. It even tags and indexes unstructured information for easier searchability later on. Combined with the rise of AI-driven insights and powerful search functions, innovation is only likely to make the lawyer’s job easier in the years to come.
The rise of online legal services
The digital world presents new business opportunities in every industry vertical, and law is no exception. Recent years have seen a rapid growth in the number of legal services provided exclusively online. These grant clients easier access to legal representation, while opening up new lines of business for practices. In the United States alone, online legal services represent a $8.6 billion market, with a sustained growth of 5.9% every year. The next decade will no doubt see fewer visits to high-street legal offices and a wider range of services being provided online.
The future of work applies to lawyers too
The stereotype has long imagined lawyers sitting in front of sprawling desks surrounded by a vast library of books, piles of documents and, of course, the obligatory green desk lamp. But today, lawyers are starting to embrace workforce mobility, with more practicing at home to deliver services online. Even traditional law firms are rapidly catching up as employees go away from the office and take their work home or on the move. This increased mobility creates a better work-life balance, which results in happier, more productive employees.
Compliance and security take the spotlight
Unfortunately, all the technological advancement and disruption in the legal sector comes with a dark side. Owing to the sensitive nature of the data in their care, combined with the need to uphold client confidentiality, law firms often find themselves extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks. Cases of law firms closing their doors for good following a data leak or breach are becoming increasingly common, and the risk only continues to grow as hackers develop more sophisticated attacks. More than ever, information security, privacy, and compliance must be at the very forefront of legal innovation.
Umbrella Managed Systems provides IT services and expert guidance specialized to meet the unique demands of the legal sector. If you need more details, read our free eBook: 5 Big Ways IT Outsourcing Can Boost Your Company’s Productivity. You can also call our team of experts today to inquire about our services.