Everyone you know has a smartphone in their pocket. They use this smartphone or similar mobile device to work, relax, and live. Gone are the days of using the phone book to find lawyers or court reporters in Pittsburgh.
Now, it’s a quick Google search or even a voice search asking Alexa or Siri to help you find a court reporter or lawyer near you. This is just one small example of how technology is shaping the legal industry. If you’re not online – you simply don’t exist. Potential clients want to visit your website, read reviews of you and your firm, check out your posts on social media, and search for articles about you and your firm.
This is why it’s important to think about the future of technology in the legal industry. If you haven’t shifted how you work and communicate with clients to use the latest in digital technology, you’re missing out on taking advantage of the top trends shaping the legal industry.
Read on for our thoughts on how the legal industry is being shaped by technology and what the future holds for the legal profession.
Shifting Client Expectations
There is no denying that technology has impacted every aspect of the legal profession, particularly how clients communicate with legal professionals. A recent study about the role of technology in the future of legal professionals, emphasize these changes and more.
However, let’s dig into what your clients want from you now:
- Clients are more fee aware. They have a better understanding of how much time you spend on their case and have started to question the fees associated with representation. This is all down to the new level of transparency that the Internet brings to every profession, including the legal field.
- Clients are proactive. Gone are the days of clients waiting to hear from you. They expect you to be working for them and do not hesitate to reach out. Tools such as email, instant messaging, and software such as Skype or Slack make this much easier.
- Increased client expectations. Clients now want more from you. Because there is a boom in online-only digital law firms and apps that give legal advice, clients expect you to do more than just provide legal advice on a case or issue. They’re looking for real domain experts who can do more than an online search or app.
The data and information that you can use to build your case or to prove legal points has shifted dramatically. Now, with the recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, electronic information including emails, texts, voice mails, digital calendars, graphics, usage data, and even location identifiers are now available for discovery. This has created a whole new realm of discovery known as electronic discovery.
We’re seeing a boom in professionals who specialize in electronic discovery. As well, this has added a new layer of complexity to many cases, and in a way, making it harder for lawyers and legal support staff to collect all relevant information and facts. It is worth taking advantage of the expertise of people who specialize in e-discovery and the latest in digital trial technology.
Think of how you use social media. Now think of how you can use these same tools in your legal career. From recruiting, reaching out to experts, doing research, career management, witness investigation to client communication – are changed by social media channels. Don’t overlook the benefits of social media to your career development and in how your clients’ social media presence can impact their reputation or even supporting materials in a case.
Thanks to the Internet, everyone is local now. It’s super easy to communicate across time zones and locales with tools such as Skype, WebEx, Facetime, or Slack. This has created a much more intensely competitive legal environment – clients are no longer limited by relying on the lawyers in their community.
As well, many law firms are seeing a boom in their reach – making it easier for them to expand into unexpected locations. Boundaries no longer exist – clients simply care that they’re getting the best in legal representation. Globalization will only continue to have impacts thanks to the increased usage of automated legal processes, data security improvements, and technology that is changing the ease of access to information.
We have really on scraped the tip of the iceberg here when it comes to the future of technology in the legal industry. It’s an exciting time and we can’t wait to see what comes next.