The legal industry has undergone so many changes over the past twenty years. One of the most prevalent changes is in the way that we work: our entire workforce has gone mobile, and has necessarily embraced technology as our clients’ demands for better security and access dictate. The changes are unavoidable, as is the investment we must allocate towards it.
The debate seems to revolve around what solutions we are going to bank on: what’s going to work best for our workflow, and support us in our future development?
A recent panel discussion examined new technologies in the legal space that included artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics, and how each of these topics was going to influence our collective future. Some were deemed inconsequential, while others brought nods of agreement in terms of their potential to be around for a good long time. If your firm is having some of the same conversations, here are some trends you might want to consider:
No matter what platform you or your firm uses, mobile apps are now pretty consistent in user experience, performance, and functionality. There are no longer issues of platform-specific applications, so everybody can enjoy the benefits of these time-saving tools. Many are apps we use every day for activities like banking, booking travel, social networking, communications, and more. As time goes by, specialized legal applications are finding their way into the fray, giving law professionals the ability to practice anywhere and at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. This negates the need to be attached to a desk, which has served the dual purpose of giving us added flexibility, and helping us improve client communication and collaboration.
The cloud has been a major disruptor for just about every industry, including the legal profession. The trend is definitely growing, in large part due to the agility it provides. Firms have been able to greatly reduce or eliminate the costs of infrastructure and IT maintenance, as it is mostly available on a pay-as-you-go/pay-only-for-what-you-need basis. This not only saves time, but a whole lot of cash flow, which can undoubtedly be put to better use elsewhere.
Since we have less physical control of our servers and file systems, security has taken on an entirely different tone in the digital age. Even though there is no current legal standard for cloud security, the available tech in this realm is quite sophisticated. There are various ways in which a firm can protect their data, including encryption, two-factor authentication, and virtually deployed DRPs (disaster recovery plans) and backups in order to ensure file systems are always available.
The data involved within any kind of legal practice can be quite staggering. So much so, that if it was all being collected terrestrially, you would likely have to hire a whole staff to take advantage of all of your business intel – and even then, there is no chance you’d be able to leverage all of it. Consider this: the longer a client relationship lasts, the longer a case continues, the more data you collect – and that is in addition to court records, eDiscovery, and research. You could never hope to be able to manually search any of these data sets successfully, but analytic search engines have provided an efficient way to mine this data, producing results from millions of data points that might otherwise be overlooked. This translates to more money saved, and greater insights that lead to improved efficiency. It also provides an incentive to employ analytic solutions that comply with the law office’s information governance protocols.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
It’s still pretty early in the AI game, but this technology promises to push the boundaries of our current analytic capacities from being merely descriptive to being predictive. Consider AI’s ability to map out the predispositions of particular judges in order to better predict case outcomes, or to understand the habits of opposing counsel in preparing their arguments. Currently, the laws that regulate this sort of thing are generally friendly with AI, largely because of the dogmatic attributes it abides by, but as the technology learns and machines are finally able to reason more like an actual attorney, the prospects become pretty exciting.