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Legal Technology Trends That Will Take Over 2018

High Tech Lawyer’s OfficeTo have a truly modern and innovative law firm, technology needs to have a place at the table. This is true for your law firm for both your staff and your clients as technology has started to become more client-facing. But what legal technology offers the greatest opportunity for your law firm?

In 2018, there are three legal technology trends that hold the promise of a big impact. Representing three main benefits, these legal technologies can help you improve client relationships, efficiencies, revenue, and more. These technology trends will not only impact the future of law firm marketing, but also your firm’s business development and operations.

Below, we break down these three legal technology trends and how you can take advantage of them within your law firm.

Relationship Automation and Artificial Intelligence Enabling Greater Efficiency Than Ever Before

Part of providing a great client experience lies in your firm’s ability to improve communication response and turnaround times. One of the ways legal technology aims to address this is through new tools that improve your operational efficiencies. For example, legal technology is emerging that streamlines internal processes and reduces workloads, so lawyers can spend more time advising clients and less time pushing paper.

For example, attorneys spend an average of 5.5 hours a week manually entering information into their law firm’s CRM. That is 5.5 hours per week that is non-billable admin work. Now multiply that 5.5 by the 500 attorneys, 1,000 attorneys, 5,000+ attorneys you have in your firm, and try not to have a heart attack.

One of the three biggest technological opportunities for improving internal law firm efficiency is the adoption of automation tools to eliminate manual data entry for your lawyers. By equipping your law firm with tools like CRM data automation, you can remove time-consuming manual tasks like data entry and analysis. Additionally, automation provides your legal business development team with key prospect information through pre-meeting digests, new contact sync, social media profile scraping, and post-meeting automation of meeting notes, tasks, and activities. Automation delivers key business insights to your team when and where they need it, to provide an excellent client experience and build stronger relationships that close deals.

On the artificial intelligence (AI) front, according to the ILTA Technology Purchasing Survey, 3% of law firms invested in artificial intelligence technology in 2016, compared to 0% in 2014. Now, you may be thinking 3% isn’t a strong indicator of a growing trend, but we would challenge you to think about how that 3% plans to use AI to distance themselves from their competition (i.e. you).

Through AI and machine learning, more and more law firms are seeing the potential to automate many of their internal processes, as well as their client communications and correspondence. In addition, AI could provide more accurate risk assessment, conduct helpful research, and highlight document errors — all tasks that would otherwise bog down your legal team.

Sharpen Your Law Firm's Competitive EdgeRelationship Intelligence Holds the Promise of More Effective Collaboration

Two is better than one — we’ve all heard that saying before. And when it comes to collaboration, the more the merrier is certainly the motto to follow. With more brain power behind your law firm’s key client and prospect accounts, you can pool your firm’s legal, business development, and support knowledge to create a noticeable competitive advantage.

To increase collaboration among your internal teams, there are several tools your law firm can use that give your clients and other team members a more active role. Relationship intelligence automation (RIA) for example automatically identifies who in your organization has mutual connections with prospects or clients.

Once identified, your business development team can collaborate with the individual to deepen the insights and knowledge around an account and arrange a warm introduction that accelerates the sales process.

When is comes to client collaboration, the cloud is your friend. Now, we know what you’re thinking, “how do I know our information is safe, secure, and private?” But by following data security best practices, the cloud should not hold you back from automating process and increasing efficiencies. Through new legal technology including document e-signature providers (e.g. Docusign), cloud document hosting providers (e.g. G Suite), and intranets, you can work more closely with your clients on matter inception, document approvals, reviews, and more.

Relationship Mapping Is Changing the Business Development Playing Field

According to Thomson Reuters’ 2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market, demand for legal services has stagnated. Considering that demand has remained the same, more and more law firms are fighting to maintain, and ideally grow, their slice of the pie. Plus, with the introduction of alternative legal service providers (like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer), the competitive landscape is not only more crowded but also becoming more innovative. Because of this, law firms need to differentiate themselves through more impactful marketing and sales strategies to win more business and grow revenue.

To differentiate your law firm and approach clients with a unique approach to engagement, legal technology can help you better understand your client relationships and so you can showcase your expertise in a way that is relevant to them. For example, let’s say you have a database of 100,000 contacts. Through modern tools like relationship mapping, you can automatically map those contacts in your CRM to see relationship insights like your relationship type, status, strength, and potential influencers within the firm that can help build a stronger relationship. This sales intelligence has the power to transform your database from a stale marketing list to your most powerful business development resource.

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