Introduction to Legal Technology

Here, on the SPD Group blog, we have covered a lot of technological innovations, created to help businesses optimize their operations and ultimately increase revenue. This time we will cover an area we have never touched upon before – the technological advances used in the legal industry. You will learn about how exactly technology is impacting law firms and helps them survive the market challenges.

The Great Recession of 2008 altered the perception of technology for law firms. While the technology has been there for quite some time, this economic crisis served as a paradigm shift for law firms. The problem was that commercial clients significantly reduced their spending on the legal services of remote law firms after this recession. Commercial clients focused on building in-house law teams as much as they could, as it was much wiser in terms of cost-efficiency.

Nevertheless, there is still plenty of demand for the outsourcing of legal services, hence there is a chance to take over this market. At the same time, the rules of the game have changed dramatically. In 2022, it is standard to charge fixed fees for legal services, rather than hourly rates as it was popular a decade ago. Ultimately, law firms are forced to be more flexible, efficient, and less expensive than in-house teams. And that’s where technology comes into play. So, what is Legal Technology?

Legal Tech, or Legal Technology, is a single or set of technological solutions for law firms, lawyers, businesses, and organizations, built to simplify, optimize, and automate their operations.

“As computational technology and artificial intelligence matures, more people will be able to have better access to justice.”- Monica Bay, Fellow, Stanford Law School CodeX

If we take the use of Artificial Intelligence as an example, according to IndustryARC the offerings of AI services for businesses have increased by approximately two-thirds in 2020 as compared to 2019. It is no wonder because the word is spreading rapidly that AI-powered solutions can speed up the contract review process by 90% without any compromise on accuracy as compared with a manual review. These and other advantages we will focus on in greater detail later in the article, led to an astonishing $1.23 billion invested in Legal Tech by the end of 2019’s third quarter, according to Bloomberg Law.

As you can see, legal technology services are on the rise and are expected to be in even higher demand in 2022. If you are the owner of a law firm that provides services to clients remotely, or the CEO of an organization that can use some improvements for their in-house law team’s business processes, read on as we will cover all the benefits of Legal Tech for both the cases. The article will also describe the top 10 ways that the technology can help your business, as well as the most prominent technology adoptions by the top global legal tech companies. We will tell you about how SPD Group innovates legal processes by delivering custom legal technology software solutions and share some of the most realistic predictions for the future of the Legal Tech market. Are you ready to dive deep into the realities of innovative law firms in 2022? Let’s go!

Key benefits of Legal Technology for organizations

What exact benefits can Legal Tech innovations bring to traditional law firms and well-established organizations? Here are the most important ones:

Automation

It is a well-known fact that most of the tasks for in-house legal teams are performed manually. Why not let your lawyers focus on more important tasks than repetitive and routine actions? One can automate more than 60% of the work lawyers do in their day-to-day activities by introducing automated solutions.

Improved research

Legal experts still commonly rely on printed documentation, despite the popularity and capabilities of the Internet. They use printed-out documents mostly for reference in their cases. Technology can offer three ways to improve this situation. Firstly, an enterprise mobile app can be introduced to display the required documents on tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices. Secondly, it is possible to automate the searching process to keep legal staff updated on the latest changes in the regulations. Thirdly, some additional functionality can be implemented for searching for newly arrived information or additions to the existing regulations on demand. Here are some of the most popular legal technologies that can make this happen:

Technologies Uplifting Legal Research Work

Fewer risks

Automated technology solutions reduce the odds of human error. Even the best experts can misinterpret the facts, which leads to misjudgment and further reputational and financial damage to the organization. Do you need the risk of that type of error in your organization? You probably don’t. Furthermore, if you add capabilities that allow you to analyze legal situations from various angles, for example, those enabled by a Machine Learning-based solution, Legal Tech can become a great tool for helping human experts make the right decision.

Optimized resource management

You can imagine a junior legal expert taking over some routine tasks like managing and processing titles or keeping track of the daily schedules of senior lawyers. Why not let junior experts grow faster and engage in more meaningful activities by automating these tasks? The legal title management and calendaring apps can easily handle all of those activities for senior experts, letting the younger talent focus on learning the craft.

More transparency

This issue is based on the fact that there are still a lot of lawyers who overcomplicate their cases to earn more money from the client. As a result, clients often doubt the integrity of lawyers and can doubt your organization too. How can you prevent that from happening? It’s as simple as introducing legal practice management solutions that provide a transparent overview of all the procedures in your organization, both for you and for your clients. Additionally, you can build a marketplace for your experts, where your clients will be able to evaluate the track record of each of your lawyers and pick the best one for their case.

Better convenience for customers

Your clients could receive services much more conveniently with mobile applications or software solutions. A customer experience-focused tool can eliminate any unnecessary paperwork, improve communications, reduce the time required to get access to the desired legal services, and minimize the need to meet face-to-face with your legal staff for certain legal services. The latter is especially important in the times of the global Coronavirus pandemic. You will get a much more convenient and effective legal ecosystem with real-time updates as a result of such an innovation.

Technological edge over competitors

Last but not least is the edge over your competitors. If you are working in the field of legal services, the competition is tough. While some companies on your market are stuck in traditional ways of doing business, others are turning into innovative law firms, attracting more clients and building more trust with the existing ones. If you take the role of an innovator, embracing the technology to optimize your operations and improve the customer experience, you will get more chances to remain competitive.

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10 ways LegalTech can help your business

You can consider Legal Technology as a form of Digital Transformation for this particular industry. The set of technologies we will talk about includes software tools for workflow optimization, advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, tools for Big Data analytics, solutions that are aimed to improve the customer experience, and distributed ledger technology, and cloud technology. Let’s take one step at a time and focus on each particular type of solution that may be useful for your organization.

Document review with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI/ML is already revolutionizing multiple industries, and Legal is not an exception. This advanced technology can disrupt the traditional way business processes are organized by offering ML algorithms that can train on data (with or without supervision) and analyze multiple types of legal documents, including compliance cases and M&A.

Document and contract management platforms

These are essentially a set of legal tech tools that are able to automate and streamline the process of creating templates, providing content analysis, or negotiating clauses.

Workflow tools

You can use that name for those systems that operate inside the law firms to automate and digitalize the ways their lawyers run their operations. For example, this could be an application that eliminates a significant amount of paperwork.

Smart contracts

You can leverage the combination of Distributed Ledger Technology and the Internet as an instrument for smart contracts. These are essentially legal contracts with the ability to self-execute depending on specific conditions.

Data security

Another powerful application of the Distributed Ledger technology is to provide the highest level of security imaginable, which is essential for law firms and is probably one of the first things for them to consider during the process of digital transformation.

E-discovery tools

This name combines solutions that automate the different stages of e-discovery stages for lawyers. One can use Machine Learning algorithms to pick specific information on the internet about certain cases or to find the necessary information in large-sized databases.

Databases in the cloud

This kind of solution simplifies access for your employees to the information they need from any department or even location. If you move your database to the cloud, the overall speed of operations will improve dramatically.

Legal chatbots

Chatbots are another way to implement AI and ML to improve customer experience and free up your human resources. They have already proven capable of taking over routine tasks and inquiries in the industries like Retail or Banking. They can do the same in the Legal industry, letting your employees focus on more meaningful and sophisticated tasks.

Online marketplaces for finding lawyers

These are basically online platforms that can help your clients find the lawyers or legal experts they need faster. With a solution like that, your client can find a lawyer that has enough expertise and experience to solve their specific problems without having to make a number of phone calls to check the availability of your experts.

Read also: Building a Custom Marketplace Platform

Electronic billing

Artificial Intelligence can solve one more problem that companies handle manually with spreadsheets. Managing and automating legal expenditure is relatively easy if advanced algorithms are used. As a result of this Legal Tech innovation, companies will be able to mitigate the human factor, eliminate any unnecessary paperwork, and be more aware of their legal spending.

Top 5 Innovative Legal Technology use cases

We have discussed the use of Legal Tech theoretically, but what about its real-life implementation and the actual figures? Here is a list of the most prominent implementations of Legal Technology in companies:

PRIMER GRUPO

This is a real estate franchise based in Spain. The company offers such services, as property purchase and sale, real estate marketing, property management, property valuation, and legal assessment and advice. As the company grew, the amount of paperwork also increase. It was decided that the contract processes needed improvement. Documents needed to be drafted without errors and updated in response to changes in the law. They also needed to become more convenient overall for use by different teams. To achieve those results, PRIMER GRUPO joined forces with the document automation platform Bigle Legal. The automated contract creation and the ability to collaborate on documents both online and offline saves PRIMER GRUPO around $55,000 USD per year!

L’Oréal

The company’s Australian and New Zealand legal departments were struggling with the amount of routine work they needed to handle because both the departments served a total of around 50 brands. The legal team decided to use Plexus, a legal automation tool that can automate workflows, introduce self-service apps, and offer end-to-end contract lifecycle management. The tool can take over routine and repetitive tasks, alerting experts for complicated cases only. This move helped reduce the average time spent on an agreement from nearly an hour to less than 20 minutes!

Fredrikson Law

This American company with offices in the United States of America, Mexico, and China is using Machine Learning software named Kira for key provisions analysis in contracts. In one of the use cases, Kira helped save almost 50% of the time on the due diligence review for one of the clients. Fredrikson Law estimates that Kira has increased their overall efficiency by over 20%.

Salazar Law

The American firm focuses on reorganization and bankruptcy, corporate and transactions, trial and litigation, and data privacy and new media. Legal Technology has enabled this firm to stay small and become a quicker and more effective alternative to bigger companies.

Salazar Law uses a well-known legal research product named ROSS, which is based on Artificial Intelligence. This product helps lawyers get relevant law passages for arguments in cases. ROSS allows one to save time and reduce costs, eliminating the need to hire a team of researchers. These factors have led to a better Return On Investment for Salazar Law.

Tees Law

This British firm with over a century of history wanted to improve the production of documents. The problem was quite simple but impacted the final productivity. When the papers were submitted to the central production team, the attendance notes, as well as some other important documents were placed at the bottom of the pile. The lawyers had a hard time remembering the meetings that were conducted just days before.

Legal Technology provided a brilliant solution based on Natural Language Processing that was used for speech recognition functionality in the tool called BigHand. This tool allowed lawyers to simply dictate their thoughts, the speech recognition algorithms then converted them into a text. BigHand proved to be more effective than the software they had used before by more than a third. This tool also improved the overall workflow efficiency, in particular, by helping the document production team. The human experts, once again, could switch to more complex tasks, demanding their immediate attention. The use of BigHand by Tees Law has helped to reduce the turnaround time by almost 50%.

Honorable mentions: Legal Tech startups to keep your eye on

If you want to discover even more case studies, we recommend that you follow the progress of the following legal tech service startups, as they’ve already made a significant impact on the Legal Tech industry:

Legal Tech startups to keep tabs on

LuminanceUsage of AI and Machine Learning for document analysis
Ravel LawInvestigation of open-source documents using AI
EnoronInnovative management software for lawyers
LexooAn online platform that provides commercial legal advice

What is the difference between Legal Tech and LawTech?

As we have discovered, Legal Technology can offer significant benefits to law firms, other mid-sized businesses, and big corporations alike. However, one term we have yet to use in this article is LawTech. Why? Because LawTech is more disruptive than Legal Tech. It is focused on providing legal services directly to small businesses and individuals, helping them to self-service. Simply put, Legal Tech is for lawyers and LawTech is for consumers. Other than that, they are quite similar in mechanics, and both provide automation and workflow optimization by leveraging cutting-edge technology. LawTech is an interesting topic with a lot of things to talk about. It definitely deserves a separate article, so if you are interested, let us know, and we will make it happen!

The future of Legal Technology

Only last year, over $1.2 billion USD of investments were made via Legal Tech platforms all over the world, with $371 million USD in the United States of America alone. While 50% of the lawyers are expecting that Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Predictive Analytics will impact the industry, only 34% of companies are ready to keep up with the innovation, according to this survey from Wolters Kluwer. However, according to the same survey, that situation will change, as 47% of the law organizations are planning to make adjustments and adapt their processes for innovative technologies.

In 2018, the AI legal technology market was valued at $3.2 billion USD. By 2026, this number is expected to rise with a CAGR of 36%. In the next two years, 80% of the law organizations are expected to implement the following technologies:

The Future of Legal Tech

As for the future of Legal Technology, it is looking bright. The market is growing gradually and with more acceptance from legal practitioners, it is only going to be stronger. It is safe to say that this is the right time to partner up with an offshore software development company to build your digital transformation.

Our expertise in Legal Technology

SPD Group is a trusted software development company that provides technological solutions for our partners since 2006. We provide expertise from custom software development to complex enterprise solutions and implementation of innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

As for Legal Tech, in one of our recent projects, we have been involved in expanding a legal company’s contract management application with new features. The application is intended for Mexico-based lawyers and aimed to help them optimize their cooperation with their clients.

Currently, to finalize a contract there is still a need to meet in person, which is pretty risky in the times of Coronavirus pandemic. SPD Group’s project team has been tasked with building a document automation system for the client’s application to eliminate the need for legal experts’ personal meetings with clients. This task included developing the following capabilities:

  • Support for the full lifecycle of the document (from the document’s creation to its execution).
  • A custom API for document encryption.
  • Contracts’ signature with an Advanced Electronic Signature.
  • Provision of data retention certification (with NOM 151 certificate).
  • Creation of a process that allows 10-year-long storage of documents.

Additionally, our team is planning to port the mobile and desktop application from PHP to Java or Kotlin and introduce new features like Organizer. The Organizer helps lawyers track all their documents and make a search for documents of multiple types across the company’s multiple departments and audit system. The project is still in progress, and we are planning to publish a full-blown case study on our blog sometime in the near future!

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Summary

What is Legal Tech?

Legal Tech or Legal Technology is the name for technological solutions intended for lawyers, law firms, and businesses.

What is the difference between Legal Tech and LawTech?

The main difference is in the fact that Legal Tech is focused to help lawyers and law firms, while LawTech is aimed to provide individuals with technological solutions for legal operations.

What benefits Legal Tech can bring to organizations?

The benefits of Legal Technology for businesses include greater automation, improved security, fewer risks, more transparency, better resource management, an up-to-date level of customer experience, and an edge over their competitors on the market.

Are there any real-world use cases of Legal Tech?

Yes, there are plenty of real-world examples, and the number of companies leveraging Legal Tech is going to increase in 2021. Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Big Data, and DLT are the main technologies that drive innovation in this industry.

Conclusion

Is Legal Technology here to replace lawyers or minimize the number of them in an organization? No! It is just a set of tools to make their work better and help them become more productive with less time and resources. Entire businesses could benefit from modern legal departments empowered with the latest technology. Do you need legal technology consulting? Or, maybe, you already have in mind a project you want to implement and looking for an experienced software development team? Please feel free to contact SPD Group for a consultation and custom software development services and an estimate for your project.

The main difference is in the fact that Legal Tech is focused to help lawyers and law firms, while LawTech is aimed to provide individuals with technological solutions for legal operations.

The benefits of Legal Technology for businesses include greater automation, improved security, fewer risks, more transparency, better resource management, more transparency, up-to-date level of customer experience, and the edge over the competitors on the market.

Yes, there are plenty of real-world examples, and the number of companies leveraging Legal Tech is going to increase in 2021. Artificial Intelligence, The Internet of Things, Big Data, and DLT are the main technologies that drive innovation in this industry.

Further Reading

  1. 5 Companies That Mastered Legal Technology – https://blog.biglelegal.com/en/5-companies-that-mastered-legal-technology
  2. Top 8 Legal AI Use Cases including Leading Vendors in 2021 – https://research.aimultiple.com/legal-ai/
  3. Why do we need legal tech? – https://www.legaltechnologist.co.uk/why-do-we-need-legal-tech/
  4. Legal Tech Start-ups – https://vcvpaiva.github.io/includes/pubs/2016-legal.pdf
  5. 8 tangible benefits that technology is bringing to law firms – https://www.legalcheek.com/lc-careers-posts/eight-tangible-benefits-that-technology-is-bringing-to-law-firms/

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