Law Firms have traditionally been characterized as being resistant to change, especially as it relates to technology. While law firms usually resist innovation, they’ve been getting warmer to the idea due to COVID-19. The recent pandemic has revealed itself not only as an opportunity for growth but has also forced law firms into uncharted territory. The days of running a Law Firm with outdated legal technology have passed. Recent innovations in legal technology have begun revolutionizing the industry – and legal practices that were previously resistant to change are now reaping the benefits of these new advancements.
Legal tech has made a significant impact on the legal industry. It has helped firms improve time management and work-life balance by providing solutions for everything from creating documents, automating client intake, to tracking client cases. Law firms are using tech to improve their efficiency and provide better services. This has led to an increase in productivity by allowing firms to focus on what they do best, and maximize their billable hours.
Law firms that have experienced the benefits of improved technology can look forward to even greater productivity in 2022. Below, we outline 7 Legal Technology trends to follow in 2022.
#1: Remote Friendly Law Firms
The COVID-19 pandemic surfaced the need for firms to establish remote working processes that allow law firms to continue to be effective, even in a hybrid environment like law. These changes caused many law firms to struggle at first, while firms that were early adopters of remote work flourished. The main issue was figuring out how to make remote work for them effectively and finding their way into this new normal.
Many companies have converted to a hybrid work environment, and the following statistics show the result after making the said transition:
- According to the calculation of Stanford University Scientists, working from home has been proven to be more productive and enjoyable for employees with an average annual $2,000 savings per employee.
- A Forbes survey revealed that 63% of employees are offered professional development benefits working from home, in addition to financial benefits.
- The American Bar Association has reported that 58% of lawyers are using cloud-based services. This is likely due to the convenience and flexibility in which they can work from anywhere at any time while also having access to data on client matters. This cloud-based service provision is winning legal practitioners over to the cloud.
- A survey from Mitratech’s White Paper on Legal Professionals’ Expectations of 2021 included 60% responding that they would keep more than half their workforce remotely.
The future of law is here. In 2022, an increasing number of legal practitioners will be meeting with clients through virtual methods like video conferencing. Virtual courts will be the new normal for clients, this is an outcome of remote hearings being more popular with lawyers who want to provide high-quality service from anywhere at any time as long as they have access to technology. Legal professionals need to take a new approach towards technology if they want their workforce to model the future – a future where people work from anywhere with any device – and do it efficiently and successfully.
Trend #2: Automated Client Intake for Law Firms
Client intake is a time-consuming process that takes place when lawyers are onboarding new clients and acquiring personal information for their cases. This can be an incredibly tedious and unbillable task! Unfortunately, it’s not a process that you can exclude from your law firm, it is a crucial part of the overall lifecycle for clients. The intake process is your opportunity to give a first good impression and convert prospects into paying clients, or in other words, it’s your law firm sales cycle and strategy.
The client intake process is more than just getting potential new clients to fill out a client intake form: It’s an entire strategy of attracting, converting, and onboarding them.
Whether you’re just starting your own firm or have been in the industry for years, the streamlined client intake is a great way to establish yourself and keep your practice running smoothly. The first impression you make on your clients is one that will stick with them for years. Imagine being able to greet every client with a smile, ask about their concerns and offer solutions. This is what it feels like when you have an efficient client intake process in place. The key to a successful practice is client intake. If you don’t have time for all of your clients’ needs, they’ll go someplace where they can get what’s needed from start to finish without any hassle or confusion on their end.
The four key stages of an effective client intake process are: acquiring and nurturing the leads, scheduling an initial consultation, gathering information, and securing the client. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s essential that your firm have a CRM that does the whole intake process like Lawmatics. It is a comprehensive, cloud-based client intake system designed specifically for law firms. It streamlines every step in the process and provides access to whatever you need at any time – on your desktop or mobile device. You’ll never fear losing a client ever again. You can easily view each stage of their journey and know who needs to be contacted. Your law firm can customize each stage as you see fit for your practice, delivering optimal customer satisfaction and ultimately boosting revenue by optimizing intake.
#3: Document Automation
The legal process is time-consuming and tedious, but you can significantly reduce your workload by improving your process of generating frequently created documents. Legal document automation software makes it easy to upload templated documents, which allows you to automatically create completed documentation for your clients and their case. This saves you time and money easily and quickly generating tailored documents with a range of customizations that meet the individual needs of different case types.
Legal document automation software, like Lawyaw, reduces the amount of time a firm spends creating court documents by over 50%. Additionally, you can request digital signatures for generated documents. With a good document automation system, you can say goodbye to the frequently used Microsoft Word-based documents, and hello to the modern-day documents with online templates. You can set up a cloud-based template bank and start auto-generating court documents from any device while being able to send documents directly from anywhere in just a few minutes.
#4: Cloud Data Management
The future is here and it’s on a cloud. In the next decade, lawyers will be able to collaborate with colleagues in one place through data clouds as legal technologies continue investing heavily into these types of services that are sure to give them more power when handling information from cases or files handled by other lawyers. It also enables users to access all of this data anywhere there’s an internet connection which makes them extremely convenient.
A Cloud Data Management platform, such as Microsoft Sharepoint and OneDrive, provides a single, cohesive interface for managing your law firm’s data on the cloud. These platforms provide features like document management, team collaboration tools, built-in security protocols, content management, backups & recovery, and much more. Additionally, cloud-based technologies remove the need to manage internal servers and an IT team to manage these servers.
#5: System Integrations
With the increased adoption of different legal technologies, a disconnect will also surface with the technologies used. For example, you may use Lawmatics to collect client data during the intake process but then you may use RocketMatter for Case Management, how will you get the data from Lawmatics to RocketMatter? Then throw in Lawyaw for document automation, how will this integrate with your workflow? And so on!
With all of these individual systems, it’s important to consider how you can limit the disconnect by integrating the way the systems work together as much as possible. For example, when choosing an intake and case management system, Lawmatics has built-in integration with Clio (case management software), making it easy to transfer the data collected during the intake process.
Zapier is an amazing integration tool most law firms don’t know about. Zapier allows you to create workflows to move information from one app to another. For example, you can create workflows that allow you to automatically respond and request information from new Facebook leads, all without lifting a finger! Once you’ve set up an integration it will continue to work for you in the background, reducing the time spent on repetitive tasks.
When planning to adopt new legal technologies, be sure to consider how the new system will integrate with your existing tools. New tools alone will not improve your daily workflow, how your tools work together will have just as much impact as the tools themselves.
#6: Increased Social Media and Blogging Presence
Law firms are increasingly turning to social media and blogging in order to build a connection with their audiences, build their reputation and inform customers about the work they do.
As social media and blogging become more popular and powerful tools for marketing and SEO, it is a must for lawyers and law firms to utilize them in order to remain up-to-date with the latest legal trends. This way, they can connect to their audience on an emotional level as well as provide value to their followers. Law practitioners can use Social Media and blogs as tools for educating people on topics that their firm specializes in. This provides their audience with valuable information, builds trust, credibility, and establishes your law firm as an authority of information.
The impact of social media on marketing is undeniable. With billions of active users, social media networking is an effective way to gain exposure. The 2018 survey by the ABA found that 42% of small firms surveyed had gained clients through social media networking.
#7: Increased Budgets for Automation and Marketing
The range of technology available to law firms is diverse and it is growing every day, each with the desire of increasing efficiency. As new tools are made available to streamline your day-to-day activities, it’s important to make good decisions on which applications and tools to adopt in your law firm.
Automation and marketing both play a big role in the way we run our business, it is the future of any industry. Investing in new technology and marketing efforts to increase revenue can seem daunting, but having a solid technology plan will not only maintain profitability but will also increase your profits. The more tools you have, the higher your technology cost will be. However, the increase in efficiency and scalability will make up for your investment by increasing productivity as well as allowing lawyers to work not just harder but also faster and smarter. In the end, your firm makes money by being able to bill for your hours of work. Spending too much time with non-billable tasks has a negative effect on the income of your law firm, however, firms are realizing that by increasing their budget for legal technology they are enabling their law firms to be more efficient, increase the time spent working on billable tasks, and scale their company to new heights.