5 Reasons Why Legal Tech Matters

Lawyer Monthly hears from Colin Bohanna, General Manager of legal software provider Clio EMEA, on why legal tech is so important for the legal industry. Colin is an accomplished sales and customer experience leader with a successful track record, delivering within large and scaling businesses across EMEA and North America.

When it comes to technology, the legal industry is undergoing a massive and historic shift. In the past few years, more and more firms have been turning to legal tech to support their businesses, especially since the pandemic. As of September 2021, $1 billion in private equity has been invested in legal technology companies, and many are realising the importance of tech – 71% of law firms are now prioritising remote interaction over in-person, enjoying the freedom tech gives them to practise the way they want. Clio is on a mission to transform the legal industry; in this piece, I’ll explain why legal tech matters so much to this mission, and what this shift in tech adoption means for law firms.

1. Technology can help to meet changing client expectations

The pandemic massively altered the way we all can, and want, to connect and communicate with each other. As consumer expectations have rapidly shifted to focus on ease of communication and instant access to customer support, firms need to be adopting tech throughout their business. They also need to have the right systems in place to adapt to future shifts. 

In 2018, Clio’s Legal Trends Report found that only 23% of consumers were open to the idea of working with a lawyer remotely. However, by 2021, 79% of respondents saw the option to work remotely with a lawyer as an important factor that would positively influence their decision on which lawyer to choose. Clio’s research also found that 67% said they would look for a lawyer offering both remote and in-person options, showing how the need for flexibility in choice has grown. 

The right tech can vastly improve the customer experience, leveraging online and automated processes to simplify and speed up work that in the past has been time and labour-intensive. Something as simple as getting a signature on a document can be problematic; you either need to wait for the post, or hope that everyone who needs to be present can get to the same location, at the same time. A massive two-thirds of legal practitioners reported they believed they were delivering better client experiences thanks to tech removing such barriers.

2. Freeing up lawyers’ time allows them to do the work that is most meaningful to them

During the pandemic, the majority of law firms adopted technology to a level never seen before in the legal industry – for instance, 83% were meeting their clients virtually. 

The value of freeing up time can make a big difference to any legal firm, especially a sole practitioner, and means they are able to spend their time working on what is most meaningful to them. They can focus more on getting the greatest results possible for existing clients, drum up new business or take on pro-bono work. This also pays dividends outside of the workplace, with 58% saying that technology had improved their work-life balance in 2021.

3. Technology can give a firm-wide overview so the firm’s resources and employees are better utilised

To build a successful firm, lawyers need to prioritise the type of business activity that will have the most impact for clients and colleagues. The right tools and systems will help them do just that and ultimately grow their firm and client list.

The technology that is now available means firms can introduce clear internal processes and strong organisation and be as efficient as possible. Tech can automate processes, increase ease of access to information, and enable firms to analyse performance. Using Clio, firms can get a strong overview of their utilisation rate, which measures the workload and productivity, the realisation rate, which measures the potential value of work performed, and the collection rate, which measures the ability to capitalise on work performed. This allows for clarity on firm activity and the ability to track progress over time. We also make it very user-friendly so there’s no concern over training time or initial investment in using the system for the first time.

4. Technology can increase document safety and cybersecurity

The legal industry has always been very mindful of the responsibility of protecting documents and client information, and with the growing use of tech, there’s been a focus on cybersecurity. Historically, lawyers have prioritised paper, but these were always at risk of being lost, or even damaged in a fire or flood. Additionally, the pandemic has proven that a paper-based system is often not ideal (or sustainable) in a hybrid or remote working environment, as multiple people may need access to documents from different locations.

Cloud-based solutions facilitate the growing need to work from multiple locations. Firm staff have access to documents from their homes and phones and are able to monitor progress, send documents for approval, and receive signatures with ease. Despite the benefits, concerns about security can hold many back from adopting tech in their firms. However, cloud-based software can provide a higher level of security than paper-based systems. For a start, in recent years, significant investment has been made by cloud-based software providers into cybersecurity. As a result, systems are constantly being monitored for potential vulnerabilities, while code is reviewed and updated accordingly to ensure that software is always up to date, which often provides a higher level of security than other document storage methods.      

5. Technology can improve access to justice

Using technology can help to increase access to justice in a number of ways. The increased adoption of videoconferencing technology seen during the pandemic has had a positive impact on those who have traditionally struggled to access legal services. That includes those living in rural areas, who may not live in proximity to a lawyer qualified to deal with their specific matter; those working in precarious situations that may not enable them to travel to meet a lawyer or who may have family- or elder-care responsibilities; and people with disabilities who may have mobility issues that make travel difficult.          

Tech can also play an essential role in the support of legal aid. We know there’s a perception that the level of paperwork, admin, and invoicing requirements means the burden of conducting legal aid is high. As Clio is committed to transforming the legal industry, we offer a legal aid solution as part of our practice management software at no extra cost in order to increase access to justice, for all. It helps to cut legal aid processes drastically so that legal aid providers can focus on their client work and make legal aid work more financially viable.

Conclusion

In my opinion, legal tech is vital in helping practitioners offer exceptional service, and also to positively grow and develop their business.  The benefits of tech can pay off in improving mental health and wellbeing and supporting a better work/life balance. All these benefits are then passed onto the client, ensuring they receive the best service possible. Technology adoption benefits all in society: from lawyers to legal clients.          

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