Digital First: Embracing technology in your law firm

In our daily lives, technology is becoming increasingly ingrained in all that we do. From the way we receive our news, conduct professional networking and communicate, it has become the norm to think and operate in a digital-first way. If this is the case for society as a whole, it’s unsurprising that the legal industry should follow suit and embrace technology to enhance operations and streamline client services. Although still in its infancy, initial concerns have been raised around whether technology will eradicate some roles within the profession due to increased automation. Yet, research highlights that technology can help to improve efficiencies and increase profitability for fee-earning activity, helping to free up lawyers’ time to offer enhanced services and re-shape law firms of the future. For our blog this week, we’re discussing the ways in which you can embrace technology and the impact we predict it’ll have on the wider organisation.

Improve efficiencies
According to Thomson Reuters, law firms who wish to future-proof their services are transforming by embracing innovation, helping them to stay competitive and relevant. However, we need to understand the human side of change and the practicalities of introducing new systems or processes. If humans are able to understand the value of technological change and the benefits it brings to clients, it will be easier to engage teams in implementing new systems. The promise of improved efficiencies for lawyers and clients may be one way to foster this engagement and change. For example, AI enabling technologies including text analytics for contracts can help to process important contracts quickly, with smart analytics identifying and highlighting obligations quickly and easily for a more efficient review which is particularly helpful when working to short deadlines. Additionally, technology is being used in courtrooms and to track fee-earning activity, reducing time-spent on administration and improving efficiencies industry-wide. 

Enhance skills
Before digital platforms can be truly effective within an organisation, senior leaders must first understand the current situation and the level of skills held by its team. Firms may turn to digital for short-term solutions, however if they truly wish to see the benefits, it has to be incorporated as part of the whole process, with support from the team. According to PwC, 63% of Top 100 firms are concerned about the speed of technological changes in the legal industry, however 97% of 15-24 year-olds in the UK are said to have basic digital skills already, ready to embrace and utilise this technology effectively in their daily practices. We predict that developing IT skills alongside technical legal skills will be a crucial part of the learning process for all lawyers  regardless of seniority, particularly as digital processes continue to be integrated within law firms. Swansea University has already turned its attention to digital education in the legal industry with the introduction of its LegalTech Master’s degree, focusing on topics including AI and Blockchain. Expect to see more educational organisations follow suit as these skills become the expected norm.

Future-proof careers
According to Altman Weil, 85% of legal professionals said that technology replacing human resources is a permanent trend affecting the legal market, with 21% of law firms admitting that they are threatened by clients developing technological solutions to previously chargeable legal advice. Undeniably, technology may be set to innovate the industry as a whole and although we don’t fully understand what this will look like yet, research demonstrates that clients will always want a lawyer’s human touch. By implementing new technology such as e-billing or electronic case management to free up time for the personal touch, it can help to future-proof careers by making legal professional even more indispensable to their clients by enhancing levels of professional consultancy.

Embrace virtual learning
Another key way to incorporate technology in law firms is through virtual learning. Still a relatively new concept for the industry, online learning helps to reduced time away from the desk and increases accessibility for  all law firm employees.. Research shows that this type of delivery can also help to improve retention rates by 60%, helping delegates to utilise information more effectively and reliably, using technology to benefit individuals and firms. At Altior, we pride ourselves on being one of the first in the industry to introduce a blended learning approach, creating programmes which incorporate both digital and physical classroom environments. However, it’s not simply about creating a replica course that can be delivered online – our expert trainers work tirelessly to deliver interactive and engaging modules in this way.

In the digital age, we cannot afford to ignore the growing importance of digital systems and online learning programmes in the legal industry. So far, we have seen many developments being met with some apprehension due to the growing concern that it will impact the number of jobs within the sector, with Deloitte reporting a 39% estimated reduction in legal sector jobs over the next two decades due to automation. However, despite its opposition, the growth of technology continues to accelerate and has cemented itself into the legal industry which is why at Altior, we believe it should be an essential resource, particularly when it comes to training and development. Try as a we might, we cannot fully predict what the future of the digital-first legal industry will look like, but technological developments are here, and we should embrace them. So, if you’d like to speak to us about our upcoming Live Online courses or to talk to a member of our team about taking your learning online, contact us today on 02920 451 000 or email us at infoaltior@barbri.com

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