2018 is drawing to a close and it’s been another year of technology-driven change for legal firms.
In this article, our technical director I'd like to examine the five areas of IT technology that our clients are investing in the most.
Artificial intelligence is, arguably, the biggest disruptor to visit the legal profession in years. AI can sort and sift through significant quantities of data and documentation – far faster than any barrister or solicitor, no matter how experienced or qualified. RAVN has actually created software to extract legal data although its capabilities are somewhat limited at the moment.
The biggest threat AI brings is to junior positions within legal firms. Speaking to ComputerWorld, Partha Mudgil, COO of Nakhoda, believes that juniors will begin to work on different types of projects and firms will “require less of them”.
AI will also make alter clients’ expectations. In the same article, Mishcon de Reya, the CTO of Nick West, explained how one client who was buying 77 properties at once each requiring two hours’ work on the lease found the time quoted for the work to be “unacceptable” and that clients are “demanding (that) law firms do it faster”. The firm involved ended up automating the process.
Chatbots, with the use of intelligent scripting and AI, offer firms the opportunity to engage with clients online and via mobile apps at any time of the day or night. Chatbots can be used by legal firms to respond to questions and requests made by existing and potential clients with the end goal of collecting the enquirer’s details for later follow up.
For legal firms quickest to react, applications which perform legal functions will provide additional revenue streams at very little cost following the initial investment. DoNotPay have been one of the innovators in the sector offering consumers the opportunity to challenge parking tickets automatically.
Sites offering legal documentation are beginning to offer greater personalisation and focus in the contracts they sell to clients through the application of AI and via clients answering multiple-choice questions on the situation they want the documents for.
Use and manipulation of data
Specialist marketing companies are beginning to offer highly bespoke services to legal firms based upon the content of their data when compared to wider legal market variables. This offers solicitors’ practices and barristers’ chambers the opportunity to find new selling opportunities within their existing customer data and to better source B2B and B2C data for the relevance of the particular services they offer to potential customers.
In a separate area, analytics platforms for solicitors and barristers dispensing advice on litigation strategies based upon previous cases are being developed with Lex Machina being one of the first to market.
Extra security through multi-factor authentication (MFA)
One of the main reasons behind law firms being arguably in the top three most popular targets for cybercriminals is the value of the data they hold on individuals and businesses.
Security has been uppermost on legal firm company leaders’ mind since the introduction of GDPR. Of particular relevance to the decision-makers is the fear that more than half of all cyber breaches are caused by careless or negligent staff, no matter how much has been invested in technological defences.
An increasingly popular extra layer of security is offered by multi-factor authentication (MFA) (read more about Sprout IT’s application here). Designed to both provide much stronger protection against cyber-criminality and an intuitive user experience, MFA offers additional simple authentication stages. For example, once a username and password are entered into a system, a one-time code is received on the user’s smartphone which must be successfully inputted before access to a system or a database is granted.
MFA’s can be configured to each firm and each user, whitelisting “safe zones” such as office, chambers, and home. For non-whitelisted areas, MFA is deployed to provide the additional system security.
International standards compliance technology
For larger firms, especially those with international presences or partnerships, technological solutions are being offered for the retention of email records (read more here).
Depending on the client and on the case, you may have to comply with one, some, or all of the following: Sarbanes-Oxley, CPR, FRCP, MiFID, HIPAA, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Both archived and live communication between your firm and others must also be protected against cyberattack, the deluge of spam, and internal bad actors without contravening the regulations in the countries from which and to which emails are sent by you and members of your firm.
Cloud computing – the ongoing rise
Technology is not only driving change in the internal workings of legal firms but it’s also changing the way that colleagues work and the expectations of clients. Cloud computing has driven much of this change because of its significant cost savings, its enhanced stability, and the reduced requirement for full-time IT staff to make sure everything operates as it should and so that a legal firm can successfully carry out disaster recovery if needed.
Clients more and more expect your colleagues to come to them rather than you come to their office – it’s becoming more and more of a risk not to offer this flexibility working as part of your overall service proposition. In addition, as the Law Society points out, cloud computing provides “more flexible working options for lawyers which can be a significant factor in attracting and retaining talent”.
Contact Sprout IT
Sprout IT works with solicitors’ practices and barristers’ chambers across London and the South East providing cybersecurity, communication services, and strategic leadership and direction on IT and computing. To speak with one of our team about making sure that your firm has the latest cyber security technology in place to provide it with a competitive advantage through 2019, please call us on 020 7036 8530 or email us.