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Introduction to Legal Technology

Here, at the SPD Group blog, we have covered a lot of technological innovations built to help businesses optimize their operations and ultimately increase revenue. This time we will cover an area we have never touched before – the realm of technology in the legal industry. You will find out exactly how technology is impacting the law firms and help them survive the market challenges.

The Great Recession of 2008 changed 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 legal services of remote law firms after this recession. The 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 outsourcing law services, hence there is a chance to take over this market, however, the rule of the game changed dramatically. In 2021, it is standard to charge fixed fees for legal services, rather than hourly rates as was popular a decade ago. Ultimately, law firms are forced to be more flexible, efficient, and cheaper than in-house teams, 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 usage of Artificial Intelligence as an example, the offerings of AI services for businesses have increased by approximately two-thirds in 2020, compared to 2019, according to IndustryARC. It is no wonder because the word is spreading rapidly that AI-powered solutions can speed up the contract review process by 90% without sacrificing any accuracy, compared to manual review. These advantages, as well as others we will focus on in great 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 expected to be in even higher demand in 2021. If you are an owner of a law firm that provides services for your customers remotely, or a CEO of an organization that can use some improvements for an in-house law team, read on as we will cover all the benefits of Legal Tech for both of these cases. The article will also include the top 10 precise ways in which the technology can help your business and the most prominent implementations by the top global companies. We will also share some practical experience on how SPD Group innovates legal processes with a custom software solution and share some of the most realistic predictions for the future of the market. Are you ready to dive deep into this reality for innovative law firms in 2020? Let’s go!

Key benefits of Legal Technology for organizations

What exact benefits can this innovation 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 legal in-house teams are performed manually. Why not let your lawyers focus on more important tasks than repetitive and routine actions? More than 60% of what lawyers do in their day-to-day activities could be automated by introducing automated solutions.

Improved research

Legal experts still commonly rely on printed documentation, despite the popularity and capabilities of the internet. The experts use the latest printed-out documents for reference in their cases. Technology can offer three ways to improve this situation. First, an enterprise mobile app could be introduced to display required documents on tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices. Second, the search process could be automated, keeping the experts updated with the latest changes in regulations. Third, some additional functionality could be implemented for searching for new information and nuances on regulations on demand. Here are some of the most popular technologies that can make that happen:

Technologies Uplifting Legal Research Work

Fewer risks

The chance of human error can also be eliminated with automated technological solutions. Even the best experts can misinterpret the facts, leading to misjudgment and further reputational and financial damage to the organization. Do you need the risk of that type of error in your organization? Probably, not. If you add in the capabilities to analyze the situation from different angles with, let’s say, a Machine Learning-based solution, the technology could be a great tool for helping human experts make the right decision and secure a fair final decision on each particular case.

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 issues 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, providing a transparent overview of all procedures in your organization, both for clients and for you. 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 the case.

Better convenience for customers

Your clients could receive much more convenient services with mobile applications or software solutions. Having a customer experience-focused tool like that will eliminate unnecessary paperwork, improve communications, reduce time to get the desired legal services, and minimize the necessity to meet face-to-face for certain legal services. The latter is especially important in 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 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 to traditional ways of doing business, others are turning into innovative law firms and attracting more customers, as well as building the trust of the existing ones. If you take the role of an innovator, embracing the technology to optimize your operations and improving the customer’s experience you will get more chances to remain competitive and stay on top.

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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 include software tools for workflow optimization, advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, tools for Big Data analytics, solutions aimed to improve customer experience, distributed ledger technology, and cloud technology. Let’s take one step at a time and focus on each particular solution that might 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. The advanced technology can disrupt the traditional way the 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 tools that are able to automate and streamline the process of creating templates, providing content analysis, or negotiate clauses.

Workflow tools

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

Smart contracts

The combination of Distributed Ledger Technology and the Internet of Things could be leveraged 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 usage of 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 e-discovery stages for lawyers. Machine Learning algorithms could be used to pick specific information on the internet about certain cases or find the necessary information in enormous databases.

Databases in the cloud

This one simplifies access for your employees to the information 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, and chatbots 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 will help your clients to find necessary lawyers or legal experts faster. With a solution like that, your client can find a lawyer that has enough expertise and experience to solve particular problems, instead of having 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 leveraging advanced algorithms. As a result of this innovation, companies will be able to decrease the human factor, eliminate unnecessary paperwork, and be more aware of their legal spending.

Top 5 Innovative Legal Technology use cases

We had discussed the usage theoretically, but what about real-life implementation and actual numbers? Here is the list of the most prominent implementations of Legal Technology in companies:

PRIMER GRUPO

This is a real estate franchise based in Spain, and it is offering such services as property purchase and sale, real estate marketing, property management, property valuation, and legal assessment and advice. With the growth of the company, the amount of paperwork had also increased, and it was decided that the contract processes needed improvement. Documents needed to be drafted without errors, be able to be updated along with law changes, and become more convenient for usage by different teams in general. To get those results, PRIMER GRUPO joined forces with document automation platform Bigle Legal. The automated contract creation and the ability to collaborate with documents both online and offline is saving PRIMER GRUPO around $55,000 USD a year!

L’Oréal

Australia’s and New Zealand’s legal departments were struggling with the amount of routine work they needed to handle because both departments were serving nearly 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 only for sophisticated cases. This move helped to decrease the average time for 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 to save almost 50% of the time on due diligence review for one of the clients. Fredrikson Law estimates that Kira had increased the 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 enabled this firm to stay small and become a quicker and more effective alternative to bigger companies. Salazar Law used a well-known legal research product named ROSS, which is based on Artificial Intelligence. This product helps lawyers to get relevant law passages for arguments in cases. ROSS allows saving time and costs, eliminating the need to hire a team of researchers. These factors 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 on 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, Natural Language Processing, which was used for speech recognition functionality in the tool called BigHand. This tool allowed lawyers to simply dictate their thoughts, and the speech recognition algorithms converted them into a text. BigHand had proven to be more effective than the software they used before by more than a third. This tool also improved overall workflow efficiency, helping the document production team in particular. The human experts, once again, could switch to more complex tasks, demanding their immediate attention. The usage of BigHand by Tees Law helped to decrease 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 you follow the progress of these legal tech services startups, as they already made a significant impact on the industry:

The most interesting Legal Tech startups

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 and businesses, as well as big corporations. However, one term we have yet to use in this article is LawTech. Why? Because LawTech is more disruptive than Legal Tech and is focused on providing law directly to the people and small businesses, 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 the mechanics, and both provide automation and workflow optimization leveraging the cutting edge technology. LawTech is an interesting topic with a lot of things to talk about. It definitely deserves its own 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 in 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 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 law organizations are expected to implement the following technologies:

The Future of Legal Tech

As for the future for 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 the offshore software development company to build your strategy of digital transformation.

Our expertise in Legal Technology

SPD Group is a trusted software development company providing 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 a recent project, we are involved in updating the contract management application with new features for the legal company. The application is for lawyers in Mexico and aimed to help them to optimize the collaboration with the clients. Currently, to finalize a contract there is still a need to meet in person, which is dangerous in the times of Coronavirus pandemic. The team from SPD Group is set to build a document automation system for this project which will include:

  • Support full lifecycle of the document (from creation to execution)
  • Building a custom API for document encryption
  • Signing contracts with Advanced Electronic Signature
  • Providing data retention certification (with NOM 151 certificate)
  • Creating a process for 10-year storage of the documents

Additionally, our team is planning to move the mobile and desktop application from PHP to Java or Kotlin and introduce new features like Organizer, which helps lawyers to track all their documents, as well as improved quick search within the company’s departments and document types and an audit system. The project is still in progress, so come back later to SPD Group Blog for a full case study!

Summary

What is Legal Tech?

Legal Tech or Legal Technology is a name for technological solutions 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, more transparency, up-to-date level of customer experience, and the edge over the 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 the organization? No! It is just a set of tools to make their work better and help them to 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 develop and looking for an experienced software development team? Feel free to contact SPD Group for consultation and custom software development services.

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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