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Digital Trends in the Legal Field: The Exciting and the Concerning

Technological innovations continuously change the way we work and interact with each other. Some of these innovations can lead to exciting improvements in both our personal lives and our careers, but others might be cause for concern.

What are law firms doing to capitalize on emerging digital trends, and how are these developments changing the practice of law?

The Exciting:

  • Virtual law firms – Laptops and increasingly sophisticated mobile technology and software services allow legal professionals to work from virtually anywhere.  More and more legal professionals are working remotely and choosing to operate a virtual law office instead of a traditional brick-and-mortar location. Virtual law offices provide an alternative method of practicing law and can allow for lower overhead costs, more flexible work hours, a better work/life balance, and a wider client base.
  • Client Relationship Management Software – When it comes to managing their personal affairs, clients want legal professionals who feel familiar and trustworthy. Keeping up with all the details of clients’ lives, however, can be difficult and time consuming. Client Relationship Management Software makes it easier to keep up with these details by updating client files and consolidating important information which attorneys can quickly brush up on before meetings and events. CRMs can help build relationships and improve case management.
  • Legal Process Outsourcing – Firms and other organizations are increasing their capacity to grow through legal process outsourcing (LPO). LPO is the exporting of the work of attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals to external vendors located domestically and overseas. LPO offers a variety of advantages including cost savings, access to outside talent, 24/7 availability, and the ability to quickly scale up operations for a big project.

The Concerning:

  • Artificial Intelligence – While some attorneys might feel excited at the prospects of increased efficiency from AI and computerized learning, others might be worried about being pushed out of a career. AI is not only transforming electronic discovery, but is also being applied to assessing litigation, reviewing documents, and drafting contracts. If you find yourself skeptical that a machine could replace an attorney consider a recent study published by LawGeex. In the report, 20 experienced United Nations lawyers were given common contracts to review for risks and their performance was compared to an AI system. The highest performance among human lawyers was 94%, the lowest performance was 64%, and the average performance was 85%. Compared to the AI which had an average 94% rate of success! Further, the average time required for the UN lawyers to complete their review was 92 minutes, while the time needed by AI was just 26 seconds.
  • Cyber Security – The legal field appears to be slow to keep up with cyber security needs. Studies have shown that 80 percent of the 100 largest law firms in the United States have experienced a malicious breach, and that nearly 60 percent of all emails directed at these firms were classified as phishing. Just last year, Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that has since shut down, had 11 million client files leaked on the internet. Addressing these cyber security concerns will likely continue to be a difficult task for law firms in the years to come.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay
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