Over the past several years, the legal sector has undergone some of the most substantial changes in decades, prompted by several factors including technological advances and client demand. However, there’s no doubt that the past two years have accelerated this shift further still. With the pandemic not yet over, and technology forever growing smarter, and client expectations ever-evolving, there’s one key question that should be sat at the forefront of every legal professional’s mind: what’s next?
Here are 5 major legal trends to look for in 2022.
AI is gaining huge momentum in all professional sectors, with the legal sector being no exception. Law firms are increasingly realising the value of smart AI managing particular tasks. As data volumes continue to expand, it is becoming increasingly necessary for firms to use technology to supplement manpower to speed up and streamline data management, filing, and storage.
IndustryARC’s LegalTech Artificial Intelligence Market Forecast for 2021-2026 predicts that AI will speed up the contract review progress of law firms by 20-90% without sacrificing accuracy. Meanwhile, a report by Zion Market Research suggests that the global AI legal technology market is expected to generate over $37.8 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate of almost 36%.
Similarly, workflow automation is set to be another leading legal trend for 2022. According to a 2018 study by researchers at the McKinsey Global Institute, 23% of a lawyer’s work is automatable. Meanwhile, Deloitte predicts that 100,000 legal roles will come to be automated by 2036. Automation is already becoming increasingly popular within the sector as firms recognise automatable tasks to boost efficiency and reduce expenses. A reduction in manual work and repetitive tasks, ease in record-keeping, and usage metrics are amongst the key benefits reported by firms that have already made the shift.
In recent years, cybercrime has increased dramatically in the legal sector. A 2018 report by the National Cyber Security Centre revealed that 60% of law firms reported an information incident, while a survey by the Solicitors Regulation Authority found that 23 of the 40 law firms they spoke to had over £4 million of client money stolen in attacks.
In the UK alone, cybersecurity breaches account for half of all crimes, and as law firms increasingly shift toward remote and hybrid work models, the risk of cybersecurity breaches is only exacerbated. As such, 2022 will undoubtedly see improved cybersecurity become a key goal to safeguard legal data from cyberattacks and unauthorised access.
4. Client-led change
Many changes within the legal industry are client-led, with the sector’s increased adoption of technology serving as a prime example. “The consumer demand for more remote legal solutions is undeniable,” says Jack Newton, CEO and Founder of Clio.
According to the latest Clio legal trends report, only 23% of consumers were open to working with a lawyer remotely in 2018. However, Clio’s report reveals that 79% of consumers now see the ability to meet with a lawyer remotely as a key factor in deciding who to work with. 58% of people said they wanted the option to have a consultation via a video call.
In addition to pushing firms to more widely adopt technology, clients are also now much more focused on areas such as sustainability and diversity and inclusion than they were in years past. Clients want law firms to be able to demonstrate their own future-focused approach as well as being able to provide learning and development on how they can manage these factors in their own businesses.
5. Alternative Legal Services
Alternative Legal Services is a pre-pandemic trend that has continued to gain momentum throughout 2021 and is set to gain even greater momentum in 2022. Providers of Alternative Legal Services are solution sellers, undertaking specific legal tasks and processes to boost efficiency. Law firms are increasingly outsourcing niche tasks to these providers as they complete the tasks quicker and at a lower cost.
In a 2021 report by Thomson Reuters, the use of Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia showed a high market penetration with E-Discovery being the dominant service sought by law firms. According to the report, the ALSP market is currently valued at $14 billion.
Thanks to technological advances and client demand, amongst other factors, the way law firms operate is shifting at a rapid pace. These 5 legal trends will have a significant impact on the legal sector in 2022 and beyond.