2020 marked a turning point for many businesses to learn about the benefits of technology, especially the Legal world. As more legal services open their doors to the opportunities presented by technology, many are itching to capitalize on the latest and most advanced legal practice tech trends going into 2021.

Being able to identify, acquire, and implement the right legal practice management technology for law firms and legal departments is essential for adapting. There is now an expectation for businesses to provide and streamline technology for their clients and employees. If law firms do not adapt, they will lose out on future opportunities to make more profit as each quarter passes.

Meeting and satisfying security and compliance is another piece of the puzzle that needs to be in place when it comes to embracing new technology.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the top law practice management trends to follow for 2021.

1- Cloud computing 

The use of cloud computing systems and services is increasing and becoming more prevalent as legal practitioners in law firms and in-house legal teams discover how effective and streamlined they can make their legal work using cloud computing. 

Public cloud services end-user spending worldwide from 2009 to 2022

31% of legal practitioners have used cloud computing solutions, and of those practitioners who regularly use cloud computing services, more than 80% said that they would continue to do so. These are some of the results that came out of The American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Survey Report, which determined that more attorneys—particularly at the partner level—are becoming more comfortable and confident with implementing cloud computing within their law firms.

In many respects, it’s a key shift in both thinking and control of your resources. The benefits that accrue from making the shift include:

  • Cost savings

A reduced initial investment in infrastructure such as servers, storage devices and expensive virus protection applications.

  • Overhead savings 

Cloud reduces the amount of money you will have to spend on maintenance and upgrading of your hardware.

  • Accessibility 

Your team is not confined to the office. They can access the cloud from home, court, client premises or anywhere with a decent internet connection.

  • Efficiency

Modern practice management software is geared to collaboration, automation and workflow management.

  • Flexibility 

Most cloud software is purchased by subscription. That means you can buy as many or as few licences as your business needs.

2- All-in-one legal practice management solution 

In business, actions speak louder than words. It is easy to talk about adopting technology early. It is harder to take the steps that lead to it. For lawyers and legal teams, those steps are crucial. They lead to better, faster, and more reliable legal research, the foundation of many legal matters. The first step is for you to be empowered with modern tools that put today’s advanced technology at your fingertips when you need it. Consider how quickly legal professionals’ work has changed when it comes to new technology.

Rising workloads, ever-shifting business priorities and a volatile risk landscape create a new strain and greater complexity for already thinly stretched legal teams. In fact, more than 90% of legal departments foresee workloads increasing in the next two years. Legal technology is one way to manage demand, but lack of know-how means most legal leaders are slow to invest in legal technology.

It becomes crucial to have one solution that replaces all the other tools that you have been using in the past. The new trend is to have an all-in-one law practice management solution that enables teams in law firms and in-house legal departments to manage cases, matters, documents, contracts, and automate all work processes. 

New technology, like App4Legal, has always helped lawyers become more efficient in practising law.

App4Legal is a flexible, all-in-one legal case management software that ensures your tasks and projects are organized flawlessly, your team functions without issues and your data is secure in one place.

App4Legal provides many solutions that can help legal professionals streamline their work processes and scale their business. Here are the top features of the system:

  • All-in-one case management software
  • Agile task management
  • Contract drafting
  • Document Management
  • Financial Management for expenses and invoices
  • Filter, group, and sort options
  • Client portal
  • Team collaboration
  • Integrations with Outlook and Gmail
  • iOS and Android apps

3- Client-centric legal practice 

The idea that client-centred law firms are more successful is not a new one. Forward-thinking lawyers have been taking this approach for years. Basically, being client-centred means putting your clients, as opposed to yourself, at the centre of your practice. Rather than making decisions based on what’s best, or easiest, or cheapest for you, you do what will provide your clients with the best experience or most value.

Building a client-centred law practice requires law firm lawyers to consider both client’s journey and client’s experience.

Client journey

The client journey denotes the pathway the client takes: from the first contact with your law firm to fact finds to engagement to hiring you, working on the case and finally, to closing their case.

Client experience

The client experience refers to a client’s overall involvement with your team, your brand, and everything to do with your firm. An important superiority here is that this applies to your client’s point of view and how they perceive their experience with your firm, which may differ from how you think of your law firm.

When your law firm makes a decision, evaluates a new tool, or tries a new process, you need to think about how it will impact your clients and their experience. Thinking of your clients in all things is the first critical step towards running a more client-centred practice.

Here are some of the best practices to ensure client satisfaction:

  •  Be responsive and accessible

Although it may just be just a case for your law firm; it could be the entire life for the client. When clients reach out to you, it’s imperative that they feel like they have a good chance of getting through and being heard. That means giving timely callbacks if you missed one. Preferably, never let the client wait for more than 24 hours. Consider using the App4Legal Client Portal, it allows clients to collaborate and add comments in order to inform or share information such as attachments and more via the comments section inside the ticket.

  • Keep your clients updated

Share important information to your clients about their case as well as pertinent information about your firm frequently. Communication is a two-way street and, although you should always be accessible, the client shouldn’t feel the onus is on them every time to make contact.

Following up with clients or making sure they are up to date on the details will make them feel appreciated. It will also foster a sense of transparency and reliability. In a practical sense, it allows clients to else prepare themselves in line with new developments.

  • The entire client journey

It’s important to start considering your client’s experience right at the start of their client journey, from when they first realize they have a legal issue, through to when they inquire about your services and book an initial consultation, to when the final bill is paid and your firm asks for a referral.

It’s also worth considering what happens after a case is closed: What’s your final billing process like? Are your bills clear? Is any further follow up required?

From your client’s point of view, this is all one continuous experience, and some additional thoughtfulness towards making each stage run smoothly goes a long way.

To recap, think about your clients first, and don’t make assumptions. Always ask about their experiences, and look for opportunities to improve. And consider innovating your practice with new tools that can help you provide better client experience and make your own life easier as well.

4- Virtual Legal Assistants & Contract Automation 

Intense pressure on legal teams to increase their responsiveness and efficiency is pushing them to look toward automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing.

In fact, Gartner predicts that “lawbots” will handle a quarter of internal legal requests by 2023. According to Gartner predictions, Virtual Legal Assistants (VLA) is expected to handle up to 25% of the internal requests to the legal departments of big companies by 2023. Virtual Legal Assistants are a fast-growing trend, especially in large enterprises. Automation in legal departments may promote faster response times and improve efficiency.

Here are the top benefits legal teams can gain by adoption of VLA services:

  • Saving you time and money

Being a busy lawyer, means that you do not have sufficient time because you are constantly choked up by many tasks in addition to managing the team. But having a virtual legal assistant will save up your time.

  • Enhanced business efficiency

Working with a virtual legal assistant seems like they are just next to you handling all the tasks in one go. They look after every activity like management of legal documents or contracts, client management, legal research, etc., enhancing the overall efficiency of your law firm.

  • Top-notch clients experience

Adopting a virtual assistant provides top-notch client experience to your customers. It helps you deliver all the promises to your clients and ensure nobody is forgotten.

Contract Management automation 

The International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) calculated that poor contract management practices are costing businesses an average of 9% of revenues each year.

Legal contract management becomes a must to manage multiple legal operations and to satisfy clients at scale. Without a streamlined administrative process, it is almost impossible for legal teams to complete all their arrangements successfully.

Having contract lifecycle management tools like App4Legal, ensures that legal teams can have a central repository to share and manage documents all in one place.

  • Electronic signature 

E-signature tools like DocuSign make it easy for teams to reduce time spent preparing documents for signing.  It works seamlessly between App4Legal and DocuSign through sending files to DocuSign with a single click.

  • How does it work?

Once an App4Legal user has enabled the Sign with DocuSign app by logging into their DocuSign account, a Custom Action will be added to all of the files stored in App4Legal. When the Custom Action is clicked, the document will be opened in DocuSign, where it can be prepared and shared for signing.

5- Focus on privacy and security

With the increase in legislation and breaches, there has been an increased level of attention to security and privacy issues. Law Firms and In-house teams are increasingly getting concerned about their security and that of their customers. According to the American Bar Association’s Legal Tech Report in 2019, 26% of firms experienced a data breach. The number has increased in 2020.

Interested to know more! Book a free Legal Tech consultation with one of our experts and find out how we can make the difference.

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