They say that every business is a technology company. What is being said is that every successful business employs technology to its advantage. Businesses that don’t are eventually overtaken by competitors and fall by the wayside. The legal services industry is no exception. Law firms and legal departments are adopting technology to great success or are struggling to do so.
In 2019, the top technology trends that changed how law firms and legal services do business were:
- A Heightened focus on security and fraud prevention due to the rise in data breaches, ransomware, and corporate espionage;
- Increased workforce mobility due to cloud and real-time collaboration technologies;
- Greater adoption of or involvement in data governance programs that help firms comply with strict laws and regulations on data security and privacy;
- The use of automation in the legal services industry to handle risk assessments for personal data, risk-based business acceptance, consumer and client self-service portals, contract life cycles, and work process templates; and
- Greater tech and data fluency.
Building on from last year’s trends, law firms and legal departments will see the following technology trends playing a big role in their offices in 2020.
Privacy program management tools
Compliance with one or more data privacy and security regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a tricky business. Organizations often look to law firms and legal departments to navigate through these regulations and develop privacy programs that greatly help in compliance.
Developing privacy programs is an equally complicated process that includes creating a company vision, structuring a privacy team, creating and implementing a privacy program framework, communicating with stakeholders, measuring performance, and managing the privacy program operational life cycle.
Privacy program management tools have recently become more popular in the market. They help organizations increase efficiency and accuracy in compliance processes by automating complex or high volumes of privacy management activities, including privacy impact assessments (PIAs), data protection impact assessments (DPIAs), and data inventory.
Vendor management technology
Just like compliance, vendor management makes up some of the many legal responsibilities of an organization. It is a major component of data security and is essential in vendor contracts, whether they be requirements, terminations, and intellectual property (IP), and M&A.
Tech solutions in vendor management have arisen due to increasing compliance requirements of legislation like the CCPA. They help in tracking required compliance items or in judging proof of vendor compliance, as well as provide the most robust insight and oversight necessary to oversee vendors and protect confidential data.
One of these notable vendor management technologies is contract management systems (CMS), enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI). They allow legal professionals to extract robust and in-depth insight that addresses vendor onboarding, going, termination, and M&A needs. Possibilities include automated risk review, AI-guided remediation of legal contracts, and processing terabytes of data to easily and accurately extract data from contracts.
Other innovations in vendor management technology include processing requests for proposals (RFPs), completing security questionnaires or comparing them across vendors, updating renewal dates, reviewing risk management, monitoring analytics, and managing individual contractors.
Virtual work environments
Remote work is increasingly becoming popular among legal professionals, supported by technologies such as mobile devices and driven by work-life integration, travel requirements, and better cost of living. With advantages such as better business continuity and more efficient workload management, remote or virtual law practice will become more common.
These virtual environments will bring about changes that include policies and technologies that support the configuration and protection of non-corporate devices, acceptable use and responsibility policies, and collaboration and communication software. Also, expect cultural norms to shift to the adoption of technologies and practices that encourage relationships and a personal touch in virtual law practice. Required video conferencing during meetings is one such change.
Alternative legal services
Once exclusively offered by law firms, alternative legal services are being made possible by technology. Non-lawyers or non-law firms are starting to specialize in legal services such as document review, litigation support, legal research, IP management, and analytics. These alternative legal service providers offer reduced cost and increased speed, flexibility, and expertise through specialization.
Currently, many of them focus on low-risk, high-volume, repetitive tasks. However, the growth of technology will only make these services more sophisticated. And as many of the over-40 lawyers don’t possess the capability to learn and effectively use tech solutions quickly, these services will transform more and more into specializations in specific software or technology essential to legal practices.
Life integration tools
With technologies making it possible for lawyers to work anytime and anywhere, expect more technologies that help busy lawyers manage and integrate their work and personal lives. Many of these lawyers are digital natives who have experienced natural assimilation of technology into their workflows. As a result, expect technologies that help improve their quality of life to become essential in achieving work-life balance.
For instance, virtual assistants can now add tasks and calendar slots based on email or oral statements, eliminating some of the drudgeries and giving more time for non-work activities. The work-life balancing act will become more streamlined as smart homes integrate with cars, phones, and emails. Think of phones displaying wait line time for your flight or home devices ordering groceries to be delivered as soon as you arrive from work.
SpectrumWise has a long track record in supporting technology and innovation for law professionals. We keep their networks reliable, secure, and private. We also help law firms grow by providing tech that can scale with their growing practice. Want to know how our solutions meet your firm’s technology needs? Set up an appointment.