27 MAR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM THE DIGITISATION OF THE LEGAL PROCESS Bringing a firm up to speed with the latest technology can be a slightly laborious task in the short term, but it can increase the attractiveness of a particular business for clients. It can also help with streamlining processes, which can pay dividends to a firm in the long run. By contrast, not having the kind of accessibility that technology brings can eventually become a barrier to business as people increasingly seek flexibility and move away from the constraints of traditional opening hours for ‘routine’ legal work such as residential conveyancing, probate and wills. There are, of course, some clients who still want to visit firms and appreciate talking to their lawyer face to face, but there is also a place for this new kind of interaction. At the far end of the scale, the largest firms are using more and more technology to both speed up and reduce the cost of legal processes. Machine learning technologies are now widely used for due diligence work, replacing teams of lawyers in data rooms, whilst document automation tools are creating more straightforward documents and contracts. As such, firms who cannot Pandemic accelerating adoption A technological revolution has taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic. In three months, businesses achieved what would have normally taken three years as everyone was suddenly required to work from home, leaving firms to wonder if their IT would cope. In the first few weeks, many firms went into ‘survival mode’ and adapted extremely quickly to this new way of working. Legal services got used to logging in remotely and working off the screen without access to powerful multi-function displays to print their output. E-signatures, using technology such as DocuSign, became the norm, as did hours that were spent daily in Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings with clients and colleagues. Since then, the profitability of many firms has in turn hit record levels as new ways of working were adopted simultaneously to costs in other areas such as travel, print or hosting clients being slashed. There is little doubt now that the firms that had invested in newer technology – and work in this way risk finding their clients choosing a firm that can. At best, their clients may choose to stay with them, but the business will see profits take a hit as they work in old manual ways rather than benefitting from the cost, speed and accuracy that the correct technology can deliver. Quite simply, without technology most firms would not have survived the switch to remote working caused by COVID-19.