It wasn’t long ago when law firms were a few and they held all the cards. They demanded an hourly rate for their services and catered to loyal clients. This was the traditional law firm business model that existed. Today, times have changed and law firms are operating in a buyers’ market with a plethora of options available to clients right at the click of a button. A newly established generation of millennial lawyers and the great use of technology has made legal services much more affordable and will continue to become cheaper.
Accelerating the pace of change
For better or for worse, the legal industry has transformed rapidly in this century alone. As technology continues to dominate, the pace of change accelerates as well. Client businesses that are already ahead when it comes to digital technologies demand their lawyers to have a certain level of digital competency to award a case. In such a fast-moving and highly dynamic environment driven by technology the firm that responds quickly and with agility is the one that is likely to thrive and make the most of the situation. Spotting new trends and identifying varied risks are the first steps to transform into a highly agile and responsive firm.
Data is the key
According to legal experts, the difference between a law firm of the future versus the law firm of the past is relevant data. A solid understanding of the client and their challenges are very important as this would help a firm add value to its proposals and pitches. This will help law firms bring in revenue, retain clients, and also look for new clients. A lot of the traditional and even modern law firms regard themselves as client-focused, but their failure to bring in business clearly shows that they haven’t done enough homework before a proposal.
Shared leadership for traditional law firms can help bring about a culture shift. A culture shift is extremely important if a traditional firm needs to compete with the modern ones. With shared leadership, the firm benefits through the skill set, experience, expertise, and perspective of two varied leaders. Shared leadership also means stability in succession and avoiding power struggles among other common pitfalls.
Building a future-proof firm
Working efficiently and cost-effectively will be a key feature of a future-proof firm. Especially with the advent of outsourcing and automation available to clients, this is going to be a challenge for law firms. A great Legal Project Management (LPM) system must be implemented seriously to ensure work is done on time and within the stipulated budget. Larger firms that have already adopted the LPM system still receive complaints from their clients that progress is slow. Future-proof also means meeting the expectations of the new generation, such as remote working, automation, virtual offices, and even virtual secretaries. According to legal experts across the world, some progress has already been made with regard to collaboration with man and machine. This collaboration can deliver better justice and create a robust legal system.
What legal tech startups are transforming the legal profession today?
The legal industry so far hasn’t seen a lot of innovation and creativity. The use of technology until recently to has been minimal. However, seeking legal solutions and advice can be a very expensive affair. Startups are now entering into the legal field to bring about a change in this. Startups are going to be at the front when it comes to making legal solutions more affordable, accessible, and help the common man seek justice better.
Below are a few legal startups to look out for.
1. Luminance - This British legal-tech startup makes document analysis extremely fast and productive through the use of AI and Machine Learning algorithms. The great thing about the platform is that it works for any language and any jurisdiction. This technology saves lawyers an immense amount of time by conducting document searches and spots abnormalities in the text. A task that took a lawyer hours, now just takes a few minutes.
2. Farewill - Farewill is not for the lawyers but for the common man himself. Farewell as a startup is changing the way people deal with wills and death. It makes the process of writing wills easy and accessible. Since the entire process is done digitally through their website, legislative updates are automatically reflected on the wills. This service is extremely affordable and doesn’t require the presence of a lawyer. Cremation can also be arranged through the website.
3. Aalbun - Aalbun is a network-based intellectual property service provider, helping clients around the world file patents, designs, and trademarks. The startup works on an IP platform and AI patented software. It aims at improving the digitalization and efficiency of the IP service offerings for multinationals, IP firms, law firms, and technology companies.
4. Ravel law - Ravel law is a legal tech startup that exploits AI’s potential to its fullest. Ravel’s law offers an all in one software providing research, analytics, and data tools to investigate open source court documents to predict the possible outcome of a particular case. The software uses natural language processing combined with machine learning algorithms with the current and historical legal documents available at Public Access to Court Records (PACER). The software can find all relevant documents according to the judge, similar cases or attorney. It can also make predictions on the possible judge’s decision based on their decision made in similar cases previously.
5. Priori - Priori calls themselves the global legal marketplace for in-house legal teams. They use data and technology to connect in-house legal teams with top lawyers from across the globe, thus saving companies huge amounts of money and time. Their client base mainly includes Fortune500 companies who seek legal support from boutique law firms that require specialized legal expertise, local counsel, overflow, or temporary support.
The above are examples of just a few of the startups that are toiling away to innovate within the legal system. There are several startups that are doing similar work. Legal-tech startups especially have been on the rise and are truly paving the way through for the use of path-breaking technology.
The fierce competition between law firms and the increasing use of technology in the legal industry means that we as consumers stand to benefit immensely from this arrangement. We can seek legal advice at affordable rates and get justice quicker and better. On the other hand, law firms should avoid unsustainable growth, maximizing short term profit, and keep an eye out for future long-term prospects. Those who seek meaningful change along with their clients will succeed. As far as the future is concerned, it is difficult to predict what might happen. However, for those who remain agile, responsive, and receptive to technology the future favors them. Traditional law firms need to gather and rethink their business models, hierarchy, and their growth plan, if not they will be soon replaced by modern tech-savvy, cost-effective, and agile law firms.
If you’re reading this and are not a part of the legal industry, sit back, relax because we are in for justice that is long overdue.