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How you can grow your law firm with legal tech in 2020

The legal industry is at a pivotal moment to rethink the traditional way of working. For many legal firms, this means using technology to drive their businesses forward and to remain competitive.

New trends are emerging within legal analytics, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence to help your firm reduce costs, improve data management, and automate workflows. Let’s explore a few of these trends below.

1. Legal analytics enables data-driven decisions

Legal analytics is the use of data to anticipate the outcomes of legal cases. It enables your law firm to boost operational efficiency, increase profits, and remain competitive. Andy Johnston, senior managing director at FTI Technology explains: “Legal teams are increasingly relying on analytics as a central and integral part of document review.”

Attorney Page A. Poerschke of Levin Papantonio mentions using legal analytics in duplicate detection to help eliminate the review of irrelevant documents, as well as email threading to focus on particular email chains for the document review process.

Firms using legal analytics may benefit from:

  • Reduced costs
  • Easier pricing projects
  • New clients
  • Case predictions
  • Expert selection

Legal analytics is also introducing machine learning and language processing to the industry. As detailed in a Trellis Research article, legal analytics complements existing legal knowledge, builds on it, and offers swift answers to questions. Lawyers then can pinpoint insights and behaviors for their case strategy.

2. Cloud computing enables collaboration and security

Cloud computing allows businesses to use a network of remote servers to store, manage, and process data. Many law firms like this approach because it’s a simple way to protect their data. Cloud storage also allows easy collaboration among team members, lowers IT costs, and enables remote working opportunities.

The adoption of cloud computing is still in its infancy for the legal sector. A survey from the International Technology Legal Association shows promise. The report found an “increased trust in the cloud as more firms move certain portions of their IT infrastructure into the cloud.”

Law firms can reap several benefits to help their businesses grow, including improved data management, disaster recovery, better scalability, and extra storage space. For example, redundant data storage ensures that if your local devices ever crash or data loss happens due to a digital and physical threat, your cloud backup will recover the data for your law firm. 

Moreover, cloud computing offers law firms an opportunity to reach a new demographic of clients, such as millennials. Research shows that 30% of millennials who have had a legal issue say they prefer to use technology to share legal documents.

3. Artificial intelligence protects sensitive information

A 2019 American Bar Association survey noted that 49% of law firms had already used artificial intelligence (AI) in the past year. Experts agree that 2020 will be the year that AI transforms the legal industry. As Cat Casey, chief innovation officer at the legal software firm CS Disco Inc. told , “2020 will be the year that true AI enters the legal market, moving us beyond antiquated 50-year-old machine learning methodologies.”

Johnston also expects greater use of AI in 2020. Johnston says we’ll see an increase in reliance on AI and machine learning. Specifically, he thinks AI will be used to identify privileged material to further control the costs of privilege review. 

AI is also helping lawyers perform legal research quickly. ROSS, an artificial intelligence system, analyzes cases while matching them to specific laws. So, lawyers don’t waste any time sifting through hundreds of cases; instead, they can focus on crafting a flawless argument for their clients. 

As a consequence, law firms that don’t adapt to AI may find themselves left behind. The ABA warns that “law firms that do not use AI or analytics tools will scarcely be able to compete for new business.” 

Legal tech predictions for 2020

Stephen Allen, head of innovation at Hogan Lovells, expects four emerging trends for 2020 and beyond. Allen outlined the following predictions through an email interview:

  • Cultural change projects: Law firms will move from ‘buying stuff’ to ‘cultural change projects’ to drive the adoption of technology.
  • Market consolidation: Consolidation will leave the best products and services to adapt to the market.
  • Platforms: Legal tech companies will integrate with one another to help law firms serve their clients.
  • Process automation: Law firms should explore using standard robotic process automation tools to increase efficiency and reduce the ‘human error’ risk of mundane administrative tasks.

Another prediction is the launch of technology specifically for solo lawyers. Kristin Tyler, co-founder of LAWCLERK , states, “Historically, a lot of tech tools have been geared toward big law. I predict we’ll see a shift with more and more tech tools being aimed at solo attorneys and small firms. Solos and small firms make up a huge segment of the legal industry and are becoming increasingly sophisticated in implementing tech to better serve their clients.”

Integrating legal tech into your law firm

2020 is being described as a year of opportunity for legal technology businesses. Allen says one mistake law firms make is using legal tech as an additional step to their old way of working. Instead, Allen says legal firms need to:

  • Plan: Develop a new process for your law firm to implement the technology, ideally increasing efficiency without increasing risk.
  • Standardize: Build processes and playbooks for project stakeholders to work in a new way.
  • Manage: Explore legal project management to hold lawyers accountable. 
  • Communicate: Discuss with your team how the technology will benefit clients.

Technology can also open doors to free your team from monotonous, manual, administrative work. By enabling easier collaboration, legal technology allows law firms to work alongside specialized experts to use their talent to reduce workload and manage routine tasks like document review. 

Legal tech is shaping the future of law firms

Despite an initial reluctance, law firms are increasingly realizing the benefits of technology. Legal analytics, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence are just a few trends shaping the future of the legal industry. While understanding the technology is valuable, planning and implementation are the keys to actually using it to grow your law firm.

Learn more about QuickBooks Online Advanced for law firms.

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