The changing face of legal – the impact of digital transformation

The legal landscape is shifting fast. A profession once known for its resistance to change, the last decade has set the legal industry on a transformational journey to reflect the modern business environment. Faced with increasingly cost-conscious clients, rapid technological advancement and an influx of innovative competitors, traditional law firms have been forced to rethink their approach.

Fortunately, the tools at their disposal are vast, and increased research and development in the field of legal technology has brought new methods to revolutionise service delivery. From automation of legal processes to the adoption of artificial intelligence in contract review, lawyers are shaking the chains of their reputation to explore the potential that cutting-edge digital tools have to offer.

Already, the adoption of such technology is changing the game for both lawyers and their clients in a number of ways:

Streamlined communications

For most newly-qualified lawyers, it’s hard to imagine a world in which both client and internal communications aren’t quick and painless. Today, legal professionals have a variety of methods to choose from should they need to communicate with their colleagues and clients on urgent matters. No longer do they have the frustration of having to wait for days for paper documents to arrive or for an email to come through with a response that could be given via instant messaging apps or an automated customer service bot.

In an always-on society, law firms who have harnessed the potential of unified communications within their business have naturally benefited from an improved client service: now, wherever they are in the world, legal consumers can meet with their lawyer via a web conference to discuss their issues with just a couple of clicks. What’s more, many law firms today provide their clients with an online portal in which they can gain instant access to critical updates in their case.

Enhanced efficiency

In a recent study from Olive Communications, one in three legal consumers surveyed would like their solicitors to offer digital services. Perhaps more alarming is that 70% of consumers stated they would choose a ‘lawbot’ – an automated online system – to handle their legal affairs over a human lawyer because it’s “cheaper, faster and simpler.”

While on the surface, the results of this study are ominous and suggest potential job losses for lawyers, the reality is that the introduction of such digital tools has allowed professionals in this sector to place more focus on improving the client service rather than performing manual processes that technology today is more than able to handle. For example, the time-intensive process of reviewing thousands of documents has inspired a new host of litigation database management tools that allow lawyers to quickly draw relevant information from colossal volumes of data.

Proactive advice

With the introduction and subsequent adoption of automation in the legal industry, corporate and commercial lawyers are increasingly finding themselves able to focus more time on pre-empting the needs of clients and devising proactive solutions to mitigate risk.

Thanks to the digitisation of case management, professionals in this sector are able to automate many of the processes that previously required more of their time: scheduling meetings, organising contact lists, entering billing data and managing documents. Web-based case management platforms have further adapted to meet the needs of a modern lawyer, allowing for the digital storing and sharing of documents and in turn, the opportunity of remote working.

Law firms may have resisted change in decades gone by, but today, adaptability is a competitive advantage in the sector. As customer demands shift to meet cultural change and technological advancement continues to disrupt the industry one process at a time, firms can no longer afford not to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the digital age.