With the rate of modern development experienced in the past decade, the word “new” has been practically synonymous with the concept of digital technology. There is almost something new every day, either in terms of totally new inventions, updating and improving software, or finding new ways to utilize existing technology. The entire world has simply transformed at an unprecedented rate due to the emergence of innovative digital technology. It is mind-blowing when you think about the gradual stages of development that the world has experienced in the past century. Sending a simple message to a person in a distant location used to take weeks in the past, as opposed to the split seconds it takes today. It may also be hard to imagine that illuminating a moderately sized room also used to take multiple persons’ efforts to light up hundreds of candles compared to the fact that only takes nowadays is “Alexa, turn the lights on.”
But that is simply how development works. Even professionally, the extent of improvement experienced by various fields worldwide has been almost difficult to keep up with. Productivity has increased at an unprecedented rate, and collaboration staking dimensions never-seen-before.
THE LEGAL PROFESSION. WHAT’S NEW?
Unsurprisingly, the legal profession has experienced its share of technological growth over the years. Many developed software tools have been adopted by lawyers and used to advance much of their work. It will be sporadic, for example, to see a lawyer that prefers the use of a typewriter rather than a modern-day computer in preparing documents. You are also likely to see a transactional lawyer using contract drafting software to prepare contracts rather than manually.
Throughout 2020, the world has adopted digital technology faster than any other year this century. It was due to the pandemic in which different professions transformed how they worked and stayed relevant. The legal profession was no exception. Lawyers improvised quite brilliantly and brought about new trends in utilizing technology to perform legal services. This article discusses some of these innovations below.
DIGITAL CENTRIC PRACTICES
It is the first and most apparent legal trend that has erupted and spread in the past year. There is a high level of acceleration towards digital practices by more lawyers and law firms. The new covenant in the pandemic has shown how unexpected things can turn out and how important it is to be always prepared. Being as digital as possible in your practice reduces the types of risks posed by the pandemic and has proven to increase efficiency if appropriately utilized. It all starts from making your method discoverable on digital platforms (for example, Google my Business), where potential clients conduct their research. It is also vital that the information provided on this platform is accurate and updated. As stated by Ben Patterson, strategic partnership personnel at Google:
“We are seeing an acceleration of consumer behavior to digital. Businesses that are best suited to thrive in this new reality are those who are embracing digital and meeting clients where they are searching.”
PLACING MORE FOCUS ON THE CLIENT
The activities of lawyers have always focused on satisfying their clients. But after the past year, lawyers and law firms have leveraged technology to maximize client experience and satisfaction. The behaviors of consumers and clients in different industries have become heavily based on convenience and comfort due to the natural difficulties already experienced by everyone in 2020. Given this fact, it is only reasonable that law firms invest in technological tools that generally make it easier to work with clients, either in terms of communication, document sharing, and other relevant services between legal practitioners and their clients. Some law firms and legal departments have excellently adopted this model in the past few months.
AUTOMATING ADMINISTRATIVE WORK
Suppose digital technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have come to do in the legal profession. In that case, it is to ease the burden on lawyers by exponentially reducing their workload. Certain law firms in advanced legal industries have always leveraged this concept, utilizing AI and digital technology for research, filing and storage, and communication activities. However, with the hit of the pandemic, the importance has become even more glaring. Lawyers are now taking routes that speed up their efficiency and productivity. For example, a lawyer can consider his available time and the difficulty of the work on the ground and weigh his options (for instance, Microsoft Word vs. Google Docs, in determining the better and less tasking approach).
Lori Gonzalez, the CEO of RayNa Corp, summed up the importance of this trend in a simple statement:
“Any technology that changes the one-to-one model of lawyers to allow lawyers to serve a much larger market will be a game-changer.”
DIGITAL COURT SESSIONS AND PROCEEDINGS
For the past 18 months or thereabouts, circumstances have compelled the world to find ways to bridge the gap created by physical restrictions. Like most other issues in life, digital technology has come to the rescue in this regard. There has been an unprecedented level of use in web applications like Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco, and other similar platforms. Naturally, courts have adopted this trend in conducting minor or urgent hearings and proceedings to save time and ensure practicality, given the circumstances. As it continues to be effective, lawyers and courts have begun to integrate it into more severe and lengthy sessions, thereby creating another legal tech trend that has come to stay.
The trends in the legal profession are numerous and will be too much to mention within a single article. Lawyers will continue to innovate and utilize technology in adjusting to the new realities faced by our world today. Perhaps, an acceleration in digital technology is one positive outcome to be noted from the pandemic.