LawTech developments in 2019
by Heat Recruitment
With each passing year, digital technology continues to transform the legal industry to reflect shifting client expectations and service delivery in an ‘always-on’ society. Shaking off the historic reputation the profession has held for clinging to tradition, law firms are increasingly taking advantage of new tools to gain the edge over the competition.
Already, AI, automation and Cloud services have all played a key role in the technological evolution of the legal profession. This, coupled with regulatory change has inspired a new wave of alternative legal service providers to enter the market. As developments in LawTech come thick and fast, what can we expect from the year ahead?
Firms harness technology for a client-centric service
In a rapidly evolving legal services market, innovation is no longer a buzzword for law blogs but a fundamental necessity for any firm eager to fend off competition from new technology-led entrants. While the ‘Uberfication of law’ may be a concept that has been met with a certain degree of scepticism, the influence that digital technology has had in shaping the expectations of society with regard to service delivery has crept into the legal industry.
As such, organisations in this sector are increasingly exploring the ways in which technology can enable them to enhance efficiency, provide instant communication and make processes such as billing as quick and painless for clients as possible.
Assessing the use of chat-bots
Powered by developments in AI, chatbots have already been adopted by industries such as finance and healthcare to provide seamless communication and a highly responsive customer or user experience. As the existence of these chatbots becomes increasingly prevalent in the legal industry, leaders of innovative law firms are considering their use-cases and identifying areas in which chat-bots may not be the best solution.
For instance, while a chatbot might be beneficial to firms in helping clients or prospective clients to gather information, no client expects a complex legal issue to be resolved through the advice of a bot. What’s more, if a chatbot is convincing enough to mislead a client into believing they are receiving advice from a lawyer on the other end, the firm risks entering murky legal territory as it incentivises the customer to purchase their services.
In 2019, the question as to the appropriate use of chatbots will take centre-stage: some may avoid using them altogether while others will capitalise on AI to provide clients with useful information and responsive customer service.
Privacy laws influence data developments
With the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation in 2018, law firms have been increasingly tightening their security measures and seeking new technology-led solutions to assist in achieving compliance and ensuring best practice. Automated data protection solutions in particular are proving popular with firms; their ability to streamline processes and offer visibility of data flowing in and out of the company leaving leaders no excuse for non-compliance.
Similarly, data mapping tools are aiding firms to know exactly what data they’re collecting, where it’s being stored, and who has access to it at all times. This year, most leaders in this sector will recognise the need to choose suppliers who are GPDR compliant so as to minimise risk and ensure widespread awareness of what these regulations mean with regard to everyday processes.
Blockchain comes into its own
As cybercrime continues to pose a threat to any business responsible for significant client data, law firms are strengthening their defences to ensure it isn’t their name in the headlines of the next high-profile attack. One solution gaining traction within the legal profession is blockchain, the digital ledger technology upon which cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are traded.
Considering data and information on the blockchain is entirely traceable and impossible to hack, it’s easy to see how this technology is seen by some as a silver-bullet solution to cybersecurity. Beyond protecting their data, law firms will begin to look to blockchain for its ability to create smart contracts in which legal documents are verified and stored with authenticated signatures and chains of custody.
As we look to the year ahead, it’s clear to see a profession in a state of flux with regard to technological adoption and digital disruption. In 2019, we can expect firms to capitalise on recent developments in technology, exploring each potential application to boost productivity, enhance client experience and ensure regulatory compliance.
By Patick McMahon