To keep up with ever-evolving developments and growing competition within the legal sector, leading professionals increasingly rely on technology for law firms.
In this article, we explore the main advantages of using this type of tech while also walking you through the technology that lawyers today have in their toolkits. After that, we share some tips and best practices, so you know exactly how to get off on the right foot when investing in technology for your law firm.
But first, let’s go back to basics and begin by explaining what law firm technology is.
What is law firm technology?
Whenever you introduce new technology to your law office, especially if it’s been specifically designed for the sector, you’re bringing in law firm technology. In simple terms, it’s tech that ensures a law firm can operate more efficiently and effectively.
The best law office technology has a tangible impact on how your practice operates. For example, if you’re using tech aimed at improving productivity, this should free up more time in lawyers’ schedules while helping them complete more tasks.
Since law firm employees use a wide variety of workflows, there are plenty of different types of law firm tech (we’ll cover these in more detail later). For now, all you need to know is that technology in law firms can be used to help with everything from data handling to project management and more.
The benefits of legal technology solutions
We’ve established that law firm technology covers a wide range of functions and aims to ensure your practice is running optimally—but what does that mean in practical terms?
Using legal tech solutions comes with many benefits. The sections below give an overview of some of the advantages gained by using the right pieces of tech and provide insight into how this can optimize your firm.
Artificial intelligence is something of a hot topic in global media at the moment, and it has been for a while now. That’s because AI represents a significant leap in technological advancement—and because nearly every industry can benefit from using it in one way or another. The legal industry is no exception. Using AI-based automation tools, legal firms can take repetitive, time-consuming tasks from human employees’ hands and turn them over to computer programs. This both eliminates the risk of human error and streamlines workflows that would otherwise eat up a large chunk of a lawyer’s daily employment.
In particular, document automation is hugely valuable for anyone working in the legal industry. It helps with filling out, processing, and storing important documents accurately. It’s also able to automatically verify and validate information, so you never have to worry about typos again.
Even the best, most experienced lawyers in the world can’t be expected to memorize every last detail regarding the case law they deal with. This is why legal research is so important.
On its own, legal research is often as time-consuming as the manual tasks that document automation eliminates. However, the right tools can make a significant difference.
By choosing appropriate tech solutions, law firms can give their employees access to enhanced research tools. These support lawyers by letting them view important documents on their electronic devices, as well as giving them the option to automate some of the research processes.
We’ve already touched on the importance of eliminating human error, but it’s worth highlighting again here. People are subjective beings; depending on the circumstances, we can misread, misinterpret, or misjudge a situation even if we’re approaching it with the best intentions. Tech for law firms helps reduce that risk. When you increase visibility and control over your cases using modern tech tools, you give lawyers the support they need to apply their expertise without risking clouded judgment or misinterpretations.
The more transparent and open you are with clients about what they’re paying for, the more easily you’ll be able to win (and keep) their trust. Tech solutions can help with this.
For example, a tool aimed at increasing your practice’s transparency levels might show clients a breakdown of how each procedure your practice offers works. This helps them make educated choices while knowing they’re receiving the precise service they’re paying for.
A tech solution might also give clients an overview of each of your experts, including details on their specialties and past clients. This can help give them the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.
Better customer experience
Maintaining great client relationships does more than give your firm a good name; it shows new and old clients you can be trusted and that they’re spending their money wisely. That’s why providing the best possible client service is always worthwhile.
There are plenty of ways in which tech solutions can support you in this. For example, tools geared toward improving your calendaring processes will prevent the chances of double-booking, so you never have to let customers down or reschedule at the last minute. This improves the client experience by showing you value their time and commitment to your firm.
Edge over competitors
Whenever clients find themselves in need of legal services, you want them to think of your firm before anyone else’s, and tech tools can help you accomplish this.
Suppose your competition still relies on completing workflows manually without any help from automated tools. In that case, you’ll be able to outperform them in terms of efficiency by employing automation and using it to good effect. Likewise, you can become more productive with the help of specially designed tech.
Technology for law firms empowers you to stay ahead of competitors by ensuring you perform as optimally as possible. This means you’ll shine brighter than the competition and seem like a much better option.
What technologies do lawyers usually use?
If the benefits listed above sound attractive to you, you’re likely wondering how you can incorporate more tech into your legal work. The following list of technologies used by lawyers will help you get started.
Note that fresh legal tech trends crop up all the time, depending on which new tools are available. It’s always worth staying on top of these so you can outperform your competitors—all while keeping customers as happy as possible.
Case management software
This is perhaps the most commonly used type of tech. Every lawyer has cases to deal with, which means there are always related workflows to optimize, making tech tools valuable and necessary.
There are plenty of different types of case management software out there. You might come across single-purpose tools built to help with specific workflows, as well as all-inclusive solutions that let you manage most aspects of a law professional’s work from a central hub.
Generally speaking, cloud solutions, like Assembly’s case management software, are generally the best option. There are several benefits of cloud-based case management software in particular, which is why we’re confident in recommending this type of technology to just about any legal practice.
Billing and tracking tools
There’s more to legal invoicing than merely determining which services are billable in which instance. Legal professionals have to be particularly careful about ensuring they’re operating in accordance with regulatory laws and data protection schemes. For example, they have to secure ABA compliance, and if they operate within Europe, they must be mindful of GDPR.
This is where billing and tracking tools come in. They ensure you’re always compliant with regulations while speeding up the bill generation process. At the same time, they track time spent with clients and services rendered, so you never have to scour your notes to figure out what you should be charging for.
Document management software
Lawyers must see, read, process, and analyze many documents in their day-to-day work. This can quickly get overwhelming, especially if all of these documents are printed and, therefore, neither searchable nor easy to duplicate or automate.
Document management software resolves this problem. Lawyers can use purpose-built document management solutions to ensure their important documents are stored securely. These documents can also be automated, sorted, scanned, searched, and annotated more easily.
Online payment solutions
It can be tempting to think of tech solutions as highly advanced tools that are only necessary when completing complicated workflows. However, this is not accurate.
Online payment tools are a great example of how law firms can start using tech solutions in every aspect of their daily operations.
These tools can give customers access to online payment options, so they don’t have to bring cash or cards into the office. Also, the right tool will provide plenty of choices, so customers can pay in the ways that feel most comfortable and secure to them.
A secure password will always be difficult to remember. Instead of coming up with complicated mnemonics to recall them or, worse, writing them down on a piece of paper that can be stolen or lost, consider using password management tools.
These tech solutions keep your passwords completely secure without asking you to remember them yourself. That’s especially useful if you want to avoid reusing passwords across locations. With a password management tool, you can focus on generating highly secure passwords without worrying about forgetting them.
Consistency is key when it comes to your file types. Also, ensuring documents can’t be edited without permission is often important in legal work, which is why the PDF format serves lawyers well. It’s why you’ll need PDF conversion tools too.
Many of them, like Adobe Acrobat, operate on subscription-based models. There are also free versions available, though these will often come with caveats like non-removable watermarks or a limit to the number of documents you can convert daily.
Great PDF converters should provide you with document layout templates to make your formatting work easier.
Not everyone can type at the speed at which they talk, let alone think. However, in your legal career, you’ll often need to record information quickly, without time to stop and write it down.
Dictation tools are the ideal solution. These allow you to speak your thoughts aloud and record them in a format that lets you replay them later on. The best ones come with transcription options, so you don’t have to manually type out what you’ve said.
Secure communication platforms
It’s always important to be able to connect with others, whether they’re clients, coworkers, or other legal experts. Since legal professionals often have to discuss sensitive matters, these communications must be fully secure at all times.
Opting for a secure comms platform helps you improve your firm’s client communication and reputation and protect relevant data when you speak with other legal workers.
Additionally, modern, all-inclusive comms solutions include options for plenty of communication channels. These include text messages, social media, phone calls, video conferences, and more.
How to choose technology for your legal practice
Any new technology you bring to your legal practice must be both useful and fit for purpose.
The following tips will help you choose the tech that best suits your business and its unique needs.
Think about compatibility
If you’re already using particular tools and systems, you’ll want to be sure any new tech is compatible with what you have. New tools also have to be able to communicate with each other, so you don’t create data silos and isolated teams or functions.
At the same time, compatibility extends beyond making sure the tech meshes. Your solutions have to be compatible with your practice’s daily operations. If a tool is geared toward supporting a style of work your office doesn’t use, it’s probably not appropriate for your needs. This is a vital consideration, as tech has to suit the people who are using it.
Go over the costs
Even a generous budget must be adhered to. Solutions that give you everything you need at prices you can’t afford are as incompatible with your practice as those that won’t work with your resources. Costs shouldn’t be the first concern, but at the same time, they mustn’t be the last.
When calculating costs, be sure to include any add-ons you can’t do without. The little things add up, so you can’t ignore a bonus fee just because it’s small.
Prioritize compliance and security
We’ve touched on the importance of maintaining compliance with regulations; good cybersecurity protocols are just as vital.
While safety should be important to any business, cloud security for law firms has to be particularly good at performing its intended function. This makes cloud-based options a great choice for law offices.
In short, you’ve got to be sure your tools explicitly support compliance and provide excellent security features.
Consider data migration
Anytime you choose a new tech solution, you’ll have to feed it your company’s data so it can help as intended. This process of data migration can be smooth and easy or, depending on the tool, labor-intensive and time-consuming.
That’s why you’ll be doing yourself a favor by sparing a thought to the data migration process before beginning it. If your tools have specific features to help with this, it’s good to be aware of them beforehand. This lets you plan accordingly.
Best practices for a smoother legal tech implementation
By now, you likely want to start adopting some new legal tech. Before you do, however, we recommend knowing how to make sure the process of doing so progresses smoothly. In other words, we want to help you optimize how you implement your new legal tech.
The following tips and best practices should guide you on your way. By following them, you’ll ensure your firm is fully prepared for the solutions you choose to be implemented and that you’re selecting the best possible options for your needs.
Define the problem
What are you trying to address, streamline, or resolve? The clearer you are about the nature of the problem, the more easily you’ll be able to figure out whether a solution will work for you.
For example, say the problem is that you want to start moving to cloud-based case management. A tool that automatically moves all your case data into the cloud would help with this. You’d know this because you’re clear on where the data should go and what type of data it is.
Learn about the solutions
You’re likely to have at least a few options. Being aware of the differences between them helps with comparisons, so you can ensure you choose the one that suits you best.
For example, say your problem is that you want to improve practice management. Are there any in-house practice management software tools already being used? Do you need a tool that works for the whole practice or only for specific teams or individuals?
You’ve also got to know who the solutions are for. Tools created for small law firms and startups won’t suit a large corporation and vice versa.
Involve key stakeholders
The people who have a stake in how your practice is run should have at least some say over which service providers you choose.
Aside from avoiding conflict later down the line, this ensures you’re able to reach balanced conclusions. That, in turn, means you’re unlikely to end up with solutions that don’t work for the people who use them.
Also, stakeholders will often have thoughts to share on what a solution should be able to do or how it should support the company. This feedback is valuable in helping you choose the perfect tool every time.
Designate internal resources
Which teams will be responsible for implementing the tools, and whose budget are they coming from?
You need to know exactly which internal or in-house resources are being put toward which tools so the implementation process is as seamless as possible.
Maybe you’d like certain teams to test different providers’ products, or perhaps you know some departments will be using a tool more than others, in which case their budget will likely contribute more toward securing it.
Seek continuous improvement
Implementing the ideal solutions in the here and now doesn’t mean there’s no room for growth. As new tools are developed, their capacity for promoting better productivity, increased efficiency, and greater profitability increases as well. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change tools every year, it does mean you can hold providers accountable for giving you the best possible experience.
By always improving the way your law firm runs, you’ll never fall behind the competition. This also helps you stay on top of new trends and ahead of the curve, delighting clients and supporting employees at every turn.
Streamline workflows with law firm technology
From customer relationship management to the automation of repetitive tasks, technology for law firms helps optimize how your law practice runs. As well as giving you an edge over your competition, this ensures you provide the best possible experience to customers. They’ll know to come to your firm if they want their issues resolved quickly, efficiently, and satisfactorily.
At the same time, law firm technology frees up time in your employees’ schedules to fight off lawyer burnout. This allows them to contribute more meaningfully to the firm’s success, which in turn helps customers even more and boosts your office’s reputation.
Assembly supports your practice in all these regards, so your firm can streamline workflows while boosting productivity. With us as your law firm technology provider, you’ll never have to worry about falling behind again.