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Present-day technologies afford law businesses a unique opportunity to dramatically improve their business processes through lawyer app development

Going high-tech has become mainstream in most industries. The game-changing advances in technology have over recent years made it a stark necessity for businesses in them to dump their legacy business processes in favor of more efficient automated alternatives. However, even among the major adopters of tech there is unlikely to be a vertical that can benefit from the rise of technology more lavishly than the $ 901.8 billion dollar-worth (2021, Grand View Research) Legal industry.

This happens because the newly arrived technologies create a synergy that is uniquely suited to disrupt the key legacy business processes of law firms, offering them solutions that dwarf these legacy processes in terms of efficiency and cost-efficiency. This, In turn, has made the development of an advanced legal software application not only a way to automate a legal business, but often also a way to fast-track years of growth. Furthermore, lawyer app development allows law firms to gain a tremendous competitive edge it’s impossible to gain otherwise. In this regard, the size of the Legal tech market (that constituted $ 27.6 billion in 2021 according to Statista) is indicative of one thing: many law firms have taken stock of the new-fangled opportunities and are embarking on the trend, but there is still plenty of room presently to benefit and profit from the relatively early adoption of Legaltech.

In this article, we will look at how one can create a law firm app so as to harness the modern technology more optimally and gainfully. We’ll take a close look at the core functions to include as you develop a law firm app, the ways to benefit from any relevant new tech, and the resources you need to develop a law firm mobile app. Lastly, we’ll share some interesting bits and pieces we’ve garnered as an R&D team as we developed an innovative and large-scale enterprise-oriented legal software solution for one of our North-American clients. As part of this major lawyer app development project, we were tasked to develop a law firm mobile app too.

How developing a law firm app can improve the business processes of legal firms

Regardless of its type, size, or location, any law firm processes vast volumes of information and needs to do so with utmost accuracy and precision. In addition to the many related tasks being extremely effort-intensive, the risks of a costly human error here run all too high. How can developing a legal app help curb these risks, relieve the workload on lawyers and junior legal staff, and facilitate law firms’ interactions with clients?

A well-thought-out legal software application can:

  • Facilitate document management and expedite a law firm’s document turnaround severalfold.
  • Facilitate the signature of legal documents by clients.
  • Ensure a much higher level of document storage security and a much higher speed and security of document exchange.
  • Speed up lawyers’ search for documents – both locally and elsewhere on the Web.
  • Help process a much larger volume of legal documents with much greater accuracy.
  • Take document analysis to an entire new level by providing AI-enabled search for information.
  • Reduce a law firm’s employment costs related to junior legal staff, and dramatically improve a number of other legal companies’ business processes.

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Functionality of law firm apps and some of the more optimal ways of implementing this functionality

The functionality of a law firm app can vary to some extent depending on the precise purpose it is intended to serve. Overall, there are three types of legal software solutions:

  • Legal apps for lawyers – these legal software applications comprise mostly scheduling, chatting, networking, document sharing, and billing and invoice management functionality.
  • Legal apps for attorneys – these legal software applications comprise mostly contract management, expenditure and duty management, scheduling, and time-tracking functionality.
  • Multi-tenant legal platforms – these legal software systems represent complex solutions that allow innovative legal services providers to automate various companies’ legal business processes and render legal assistance to them. Multi-tenant legal platforms comprise document storage and sharing, document-related collaboration, document e-signature, and other legal functionality.
Functional Module/Capability
Documentation Management
Legal Research and Analysis
Client Management
Task Management
Expenditure Management
Invoice and Payment Management/Billing
Central dashboard
Time-Tracking

Documentation management

Documents underlie the Legal industry. They are vast in number and diverse. They need to undergo frequent changes, be collaborated on by multiple stakeholders, exchanged, and submitted for approval. The frequently rampant paperwork and information excesses create high workloads and bottlenecks. The odds of missing a costly deadline or not attending to a document in time become extremely high.

To curb paperwork, mitigate the risks, and get rid of the hefty part of the costs your legal software needs to provide a document management module. This module must serve as a single point of access to, and the central location of all your documentation. The module must enable authorized users to organize documents into files.

The main functional capabilities of the documentation management module of a law firm app include:

Document creation

To create a document they need, the user must be able to select a template from multiple readily available options. They must be able to easily modify any of the available templates or create a custom one from scratch.

All the templates you make available to the user must be searchable by type of document. Additionally, it might be quite useful to automatically recommend to the user several specimen or real-life documents based on the template that they have selected. Such documents must be made available to them solely in accordance with their access clearance. In this case, your documentation management functionality should also enable easy document reuse: the user must be able to copy from the recommended documents or use them as the basis for the creation of a new document.

Document-related collaboration

The documentation management functionality of your law firm app must include an advanced annotation capability. This capability must allow the authorized users a document is shared with to add comments or edit the text of the document. It must be possible to add comments to photos and write over separate photos or those ones that appear within documents.

Analysis, updating, and modification of legal documents

In theory, it is certainly possible to locate documents by using a legal app’s conventional advanced search capability, and then simply update or juxtapose them manually. In real life, the process is way too time-consuming and hugely effort-intensive. So much so, that at some point you realize it can no longer be viable.

Fortunately, with the advent of AI, this kind of operation can pose a major difficulty no longer. The AI technology of Natural Language Processing (NLP) can help you locate and collate two similar documents, or locate all documents that contain a reference to a certain fact, and then modify part of the wording in them – either manually, on a case-by-case basis, or in parallel, with one click.

Document sharing

The functionality of your law firm app must enable sharing legal documents with both external and internal actors. Besides, authorized users must have the ability to share entire sets of documents pertaining to a specific case.

It should be possible to set the system to preclude the sharing of documents with those system users, who lack the access privileges to access these documents. Some of the additional limitations that you could implement include sharing a document without the ability to download, email, print out, re-share, or modify it.

It is also possible to implement notifications that would signal to designated users that a document of a certain type is being shared outside the system.

The user must be able to share sets of documents linked by case or some other criterion, as you see it fit. In this case, the system must also check whether all the documents within the set can be shared with the recipient in accordance with their access privileges.

Document review and approval

While working with legal documents, one may have to frequently submit them for approval. Correspondingly, the document management module of your legal app must include a capability for submitting a document for approval with the possibility to indicate the precise nature of such a request.

The ways to approve or finalize a document that your law firm app supports must include adding an electronic signature – an encrypted hash of your message that can only be decrypted by a recipient in possession of your public encryption key. You can add this capability by integrating your application with a specialized certificate-based document security solution. However, we are of the opinion that it is by far more preferable or even necessary to further enhance the level of security this approach provides. How?

Some of the document security solutions provide an enhanced level of document security due to the use of 2FA in securing access to the documents that have been e-signed or are about to be e-signed.

In the event that for some reason you do not want to use 2FA as one of the sufficiently secure means of legal documents’ signature, you can employ some robust enough Identity Verification technology to verify the identity of your signors and then reliably log this information.

You can use Identity Verification either as an alternative, or as one of the components of a complex authentication combination, for example, one containing a log-in, a digit-based password, and some user biometric.

Please note, that due to the growing and diverse number of quite sophisticated ID-based scams, it is important that you choose a truly reliable Identity Verification solution, for example, one that uses Iris Scanning or Fingerprint Scanning. And yes, you can use these techniques in mobile applications too.

Document storage and anti-meddling functionality

Storing your legal documentation in a secure Cloud is probably the best and most preferable storage option.

All your legal data at rest can be protected by using strong encryption, like AES-256. You can additionally secure internal access to the more sensitive areas of your documentation storage by password-protecting them or employing two-factor (2FA) authentication already within the system. Sometimes, it could make sense to implement real-time access notifications, indicating the username and the name and type of the document being accessed. Additionally, it is possible to video-record some of the user sessions.

As we have mentioned previously, certificate-based security and strong encryption means can ensure the authenticity and integrity of your legal documents in certain ways and to a significant extent. However, one can achieve an even higher level of document security by bringing Blockchain technology into play. The digital tags you can add to your legal documents with Blockchain make any counterfeiting attempts futile from the start and counterfeits easy to detect.

In addition, the Blockchain technology conveniently allows you to display the history of changes for all your digital assets. This ability of Blockchain allows to make contract lifecycle management a great deal more secure – once signed, a contract remains intact and cannot be altered in a clandestine manner. Furthermore, Blockchain eliminates yet another major risk: it allows you to make sure for absolute certain that it is the authorized document senders and recipients indeed you exchange documents with, and not some malicious actors. This often makes Blockchain essential in dealing with regulators and government bodies.

Legal research and analysis

The sheer number of documents law firms deal with while making legal research make the process immensely labor-intensive and its result prone to incompleteness. A law firm app with AI/NLP functionality can both take the drudgery out of the legal research process and make its results a lot more comprehensive.

Such legal software can locate and encompass a much larger volume of relevant documents. Furthermore, it can process them with much higher accuracy than humans. It becomes easy to locate and analyze documents related to similar past cases, find similar patterns in past cases, find information pertaining to a specific entity, situation, or place, for instance, a specific judge, location, location, court decision, or circumstances.

One more pretty mundane, but truly colossal task a law firm app can automate to produce a much more reliable result is searching for patents. In fact, not only patents – locating and checking registered trademarks and registered products becomes a breeze too, as compared to the traditional search.

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Client Management

Law firm apps take the hassle out of legal firms’ dealings with their clients, often significantly expediting the turnaround time for many tasks and procedures. For each client, the application must provide a client profile that contains their basic personal data, case history, client activity, and contact info. Sometimes, it is beneficial to expand this functionality with invoice management, so that you can easily display the client’s paid and unpaid invoices.

The bulk of the Client Management functionality of a law firm app consists of scheduling and contact management functional capabilities. The scheduling functionality includes an integration with the application’s calendaring capability to make client and other appointments. This function must also include a reminder feature to display reminders about the forthcoming appointments and other events to the user and send reminders to clients in a way of their preference. The contract management capability of your legal app should enable clients to access their contracts, collaborate on them with you, and then e-sign them. Again, as we have mentioned previously, here it could make sense to employ 2FA-based e-signature functionality and Blockchain in order to ensure the security and integrity of your client contracts.

Similar to Document Management, you can employ AI in the design of your legal app’s Client Management functionality too. For example, you can do so to be able to gain insights into your clients’ legal spending patterns and adjust your budgeting in accordance with them.

Task Management

The Task Management functionality of a law firm app must allow one to create various tasks and assign them to the law firm’s employees. The task-related information must appear on the calendar and the central dashboard. The user should be able to create assignable to-do lists with detailed instructions for both themselves and other users and prioritize tasks on them. All the tasks must be searchable by status, date started, deadline, progress, priority, assignee, and any other appropriate multiple criteria.

Sometimes, it makes sense to implement Task Management and Calendaring capability as a single functional module.

Expenditure Management

To facilitate payment management, it makes sense to add a separate module that would be responsible for the management of expenses. For example, in the case of app development for lawyers such expenses could include stamp duty and court fees.

Billing, Invoice Management, and Payment Collection

Your law firm app must generate editable invoices automatically. It must be easy to search both paid and issued invoices by multiple criteria, including the date of issue, the date that invoice must be paid, and client.

It is also essential to provide ways for the client to easily make payments for legal services against the issued invoices.

Central Dashboard

It may be difficult for a lawyer to keep tabs on all the events taking place during the day. To facilitate this, it is advisable to implement a dynamic dashboard that would display all the different current and forthcoming events.

For example, these events could include the forthcoming client appointments, court deadlines, recent, current, and forthcoming tasks and their execution dates/deadlines, status (for example, completed, overdue, the date that the task must be started), as well as any outstanding bills and their status (for example, overdue, the date that the bill must be paid).

The central dashboard of your law firm app must also allow a quick overview of all event-related cases.

Time-Tracking

In some cases, for example, in attorney legal apps, implementing the ability to quickly and easily check in work hours, indicating the client case, date, rate, and other relevant information, is an absolute must.

It should be said that nowadays a full-blown legal solution is barely thinkable without a full-fledged and user-friendly mobile app. This goes for both lawyers and attorneys themselves and their clients. It is essential to enable them to use your legal functionality on the fly quickly and efficiently. Some of the features, for instance, the ability to communicate with clients, view and manage the calendar and appointments, and check in work hours are imperative to implement as part of mobile apps for law firms.

The Client-side functionality of law firm apps

Although the functionality of the Provider and Client parts of most law firm apps largely overlaps, there are several functions that are imperative to add to the client side.

More specifically, your clients must be able to use their version of your law firm app to select a specific lawyer, request and schedule an online or in-person appointment with them, monitor the progress made on their case, and receive various case-related notifications.

Multi-tenant solutions

Unlike other law firm apps, multi-tenant legal solutions equip legal service providers to offer legal services to other companies.

The bulk of such solutions consists of legal document management and document signature and exchange functionality. Нowever, they could include virtually any other set of functions conventional law firm apps provide depending on the kind and extent of the legal services rendered by the provider.

Simply put, a client company can use a multi-tenant legal solution to store their legal documentation, e-sign and exchange legal documents with their counterparts, and securely make them available for signature by the latter. Besides, they can enlist the legal service provider’s professional support in relation to their legal documents whenever required. It is also possible for them to search for documents based on multiple criteria, share both single documents and entire document folders, and invite other users to collaborate (review and sign) on their documents.

Multi-tenant legal solutions are based on a complex user hierarchy that supports client companies’ legal dealings with their counterparts and the receipt by them of legal advice from the legal service provider, i.e. the solution’s owner.

For instance, the multi-tenant legal solution we have developed for one of our North-American clients included such user roles, as:

  • Super Admin – the legal provider’s expert who has full access to all companies and their document libraries in the solution’s database.
  • Full-Access User – a user who has the same user rights as those of the Super Admin role, but only for a specific company.
  • Client User – a user who has access to some of their company’s document folders and single documents, stored in the solution’s database.
  • Client Admin – a user who has the privileges to grant access rights to their company’s Client Users and Guests.
  • Document Manager – the legal service provider ‘s legal expert who helps Client Users manage their documents and supports the process of documents’ signature.
  • Guest – a user role that allows a user to participate in reviewing a legal document on a temporary basis via an invite. Guests have view-only access to some specific folders and documents. They can sign such documents if they are granted the corresponding permissions.

Multi-tenant legal solutions represent a convenient and efficient means for businesses in various verticals to cost-effectively and conveniently manage their legal business processes. Such solutions can also provide a much higher level of security and documents’ integrity, especially if they use Blockchain technologies.

It should be noted that the development of a full-blown multi-tenant legal platform takes not only a fair amount of Legaltech expertise, but also the skills and abilities normally required in enterprise software development. Your lawyer app development provider must be able to create a viable and scalable solution architecture, as well as ensure a sufficient processing power and robustness of the solution. Talking of instances, the multi-tenant legal solution we’ve delivered allows one to manage some 800 million legal documents for around 50 companies.
Besides, if you want to develop a law firm mobile app as part of your multi-tenant legal solution, the ability of your custom software provider to create mobile GUIs for enterprise-grade applications could well come in handy here too.

Mobile tech stack you can use to create a mobile law firm app

You can basically use either of the two mobile development platforms – either iOS or Android, to develop a mobile app for law firms. Basically, neither of the two can give you any pronounced advantages specifically in relation to lawyer app development.

However, you should still be aware of how one can leverage some of the important development means these mobile development platforms provide. This will help you discuss with your mobile developers the level of implementation that you would prefer to have for some of your mobile application’s features and characteristics.

For instance, if you want to achieve a much higher level of legal data storage security, you should opt for the Keychain in iOS and Android Keystore in Android. To ensure the best performance of your mobile GUI-wise across the different operational systems and mobile devices, you should opt for Alternative Layouts as opposed to Responsive Design regardless of whether you’ve chosen iOs or Android.
You can learn a lot more about some of the important mobile app development-related nuances in this article.

How much does it cost to develop an app for lawyers, and a law firm mobile app, in particular?

Certainly, the price of a law firm app varies depending on the specific set of features it provides, the level of the legal app development provider you engage to build it, and their location.

It should be said upfront that it makes all the sense to go with a software development company that has sufficient experience in the development of law firm apps and is based in a favorable software development location (as you will have probably known, the latter alone can cut your development costs by a factor of 2 at once). So, given you opt for this kind of a lawyer app development arrangement, you should be able to implement a legal software solution to fulfill your legal company’s needs for $ 50000 -200000.

If you’re a technology-driven provider of legal services that wants to develop a multi-tenant legal solution with a view to catering for corporate clients, this kind of a solution can cost you $ 200000-1000000.

In the event that you want to develop a law firm mobile app, the investment you will need to make will be within the range of $ 50000-200000.       

Conclusion

Application development for the Legal industry and, in particular, that of a mobile lawyer app, is a way for most legal businesses to dispose of a multitude of problems, achieve much better KPIs, and open a host of opportunities for business growth.

Regardless of whether you are considering lawyer app development or app development for attorneys, either of these moves can help you raise productivity and gain more flexibility and mobility.

As far as multi-tenant legal solutions for the provision of legal services to corporations are concerned (similar to the one our Legaltech team has developed for the NA market), here lawyer app development becomes a total game-changer, creating an entire new and immensely promising business niche.

Summary

What are the main benefits and advantages of building apps for law firms?

The main benefits and advantages of building apps for law firms include the ability to process a much larger volume of legal documents with greater accuracy, locate documents both internally and elsewhere using multiple criteria, and easily collate and update them. It can also be possible to make an entity-based search for various legal documents and promptly and securely sign them.

In addition, law firm apps expedite lawyers’ search for patents and registered products, making it a great deal more complete and reliable.

Those who make a decision to create an app for lawyers can also count on optimizing their expenditures by cutting down on their spend on junior legal staff and expediting their document turnaround.

How can new technologies add value when it deals with app development for lawyers?

The AI technology of Natural Language Processing allows one to quickly locate any legal documents associated with a specific entity or circumstances. Talking of examples, one can find documents related to a specific person, court, judge, location, or circumstances and use them in legal research.

The Blockchain technology rules out the possibility of counterfeiting legal documents and allows one to ensure their absolute integrity and secure storage. Besides, Blockchain allows making sure you exchange legal documents with their intended recipients and not anyone else.

Why should any project associated with mobile app development for law firms include the development of a lawyer mobile app?

Mobile apps for law firms allow legal businesses greater flexibility and facilitate and improve their client interactions. Clients can easily access their law firms’ solutions to schedule an appointment, converse with their lawyer, or check the current status of their case.

How to tell a software development company that knows how to make an app for lawyers?

Well, you should definitely pick a software development provider that is in possession of some solid previous experience in building apps for law firms. However, whenever it deals with larger-scale lawyer app development, some other skills and expertise can be of assistance too. For example, it could make sense for you to look for a company whose R&D team is versed in building enterprise-grade solutions with a complex user hierarchy, as well as in creating dynamic dashboards.

As far as mobile app development for law firms is concerned, the ability of your developers to implement complex functionality in a compact manner, normally associated with enterprise software development providers, can be of use here too.

Lastly, in case you want to create a sizable law firm app, it might be smart to start your lawyer app development effort by developing an MVP. Correspondingly, you should incidentally look for a custom software development company that is versed in MVP development.

If application development for lawyers or app development for attorneys is something you are planning or looking into, and some of the aspects of the process still seem a little obscure, our Legaltech experts would be eager to lend a hand.

We’ll gladly discuss your lawyer app development needs with you and the ways that they can best be fulfilled. Just send us an email to [email protected], and we’ll be sure to be in touch with you shortly.

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