There are two camps when it comes to legal profession and technology – those who embrace it 100% and those who are slow-to-adopt change. Those who are embracing technology are on the winning side, realizing the benefits cutting-edge technology can have on all aspects of the law.
Whether you work as a lawyer, paralegal, or specialize in legal transcription – technology is changing how, when, and where you work. In fact, the impacts of technology on the legal profession are so widespread that a new term has been coined: legal technology.
In this article we explain legal technology, highlight the legal technology skills you need to thrive, and feature key legal technology trends. This is about more than the best mobile apps for legal experts – it’s about having a real comprehensive understanding of legal technology.
What is Legal Technology?
Legal technology or legaltech is a collective term for how legal firms are using technology and software in their day-to-day operations. This includes using software and technology to improve management, document storage, billing and accounting, electronic discovery, and even predicting the outcomes of legal cases.
Many new companies who specialize in tools and technology directly targeted at the legal profession fall into the legaltech space. Often these legal technology solutions can give clients exactly what they need on a digital basis without requiring a visit to a law firm. For example, connecting clients with lawyers who specialize in niche areas or in providing the legal research needed to settle a dispute outside the court system or in enabling lawyers to easily work remotely in a virtual law firm.
The Legal Technology Skills You Need
For everyone but recently graduated legal professionals, a lot of the new legaltech can be hard to understand, let alone use. For many, it comes down to trusting that the technology is as good as what has always been done.
The following legal technology skills can help you get comfortable with the technology that is becoming common place in the legal field:
- Small tech steps: get comfortable using email templates, voice search and voice assistants, electronic notetaking, and using online digital law libraries.
- Automated workflow templates: how many times have you faced delays due to process break-down and miscommunication. Start using automated workflow templates in the management of contracts to save you time, money, energy and to improve security and review efficiency. An automated workflow template for contracts is one of the best ways you can use legaltech to improve your day-to-day.
- Digital decision trees: gone are the days of hand-written decision trees. By using a digital decision tree, you can work through the complicated process of legal advice and thinking to help you take your mind maps and flow charts to the next level.
- Video and screen capture recording: everyone is busy and sometimes it takes a video or screen capture recording to really get the message across. Along with being a great way to record client communication, this technology is an ideal way to promote your firm, to on-board new employees, or to provide important news updates to the entire firm.
Having these basic legal technology skills will go a long way in making it easier for you to adopt and use the latest in technology and software. When you’re comfortable using the technology that improves your workflow and day-to-day tasks, it becomes much easier to understand AI-powered solutions or why more people prefer using a legal app over contacting a lawyer.
Key Legal Technology Trends
It goes without saying that the legal profession is on the leading-edge of technology adoption and usage. In fact, entire programs and research teams have been created at leading law schools to focus on the law and legal technology.
Make sure that you’re devoting time to stay up-to-date with these key legal technology trends:
- Legal outsourcing: learn which outsourced professionals such as paralegals and legal transcriptionists can help you improve your law firm offerings.
- Legal document support: get familiar with the new domain of online legal documents and forms. Things like wills, contracts, bankruptcy filing, and even divorce agreements can now be handled online, without ever contacting a lawyer.
- NewLaw: this is all about being flexible, creative, and adopting alternative ways of thinking and acting. NewLaw has created a new approach to work that steps away from billable hours and supports legal professionals who want a flexible and technology-centric work environment.
Remember, that the landscape of legal technology is constantly changing. The best way to keep up is to get familiar with what is being used today and to spend time weekly reading about and following the latest in legal technology news.