What is the biggest threat to the growth of law firms? Is it increased competition at global levels, retention of talent, or remaining on top of a compliance? Well, the answer is No. The prime threat to every law firm is cyber risk. The accidental leakage of confidential data through email hijacks, malware or phishing, is what keeps the legal industry concerned.
In reality, cyber risk is a back-office support problem. But in the recent years, it has become gruesomely troubling for every law business, irrespective of their firm size. A survey conducted by the PwC found that 90% of law firm leaders have an ‘extreme’ concern regarding cyber risk.
The foundation of the legal profession lies on client trust and client confidentiality. It is also evident that law firms have understood the concerns which cyber risk has been raising. In addition to the pandemic, remote working has increased the concern relating to cyber risk. The major reason why firms still remain vulnerable to cyberattacks is because instead of investing in long-term tech infrastructure which can support their future growth ambition, they are only relying on their under-resourced IT departments to handle it. Law firms need to stop viewing their IT departments, or rather technology as a whole, just as a support function for their legal organisation. They need to understand the need to lay a strong technical infrastructure in their law firms. If a firm will have one of the best kinds of technical software, it will allow them to focus on other tasks at hand, law firms will then be able to outpace their competition more easily, align better with their client’s expectation.
The legal sector has always been one to follow traditional practices. It was the advent of the pandemic which provided a push to the legal businesses to urgently adopt technological measures to keep their businesses working. As a result of this, we witnessed mass adoption in videoconferencing solutions such as Zoom, Google Meet, Teams and more. if we look from the lawyers’ perspective, they often view technology in either two ways, simplistic (videoconferencing tools, emails, technology around the 90s) and advanced (robotics, ML & AI and more). But often tools which can provide long-term benefit to firms, by automating low-priority tasks, streamlining workflows or sharing information are overlooked. Law firms want to improve their performance, and enhance the technology they use, but the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, is holding them back. A 2021 survey by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found the biggest barrier stopping law firms from innovating is “uncertainty about the expected business benefits” (36%), followed by “not a strategic priority” (31%), and “the mentality that ‘it isn’t needed at my firm’” (27%).
Moving on, lawyers can spend a majority of their time on tasks such as proofreading documents, researching answers to client’s queries or rewiring pre-existing contracts and much more. while the same are important work, they are also highly repetitive tasks. In addition to this, client expectations have changed in the recent years. Now, they expect more for less. To counter this problem, a majority of firms are seeking to increase efficiency by introducing new systems to improve both internal and client-facing processes. In turn, it will free up staff, so that they can spend more time with clients, hence adding more value. Firms can use various platforms, for instance, Lexis+, which allows lawyers to research the latest cases, precedents and legal titles alongside accessing practical guidance across a whole suite of practice areas. It also has a range of checklists, calculators and flow-charts to speed up legal work and ensure accuracy. Enabled with smart AI tools, it helps understand the question being asked, suggesting possible answers, all in all drastically speeding up legal research. Another such example is Legal drafting tools, which allows to quickly draft legal documents by pulling together previously used clauses, accessing relevant practice notes and sharing them around with colleagues.
The American Bar Association has made its statement that client data will be better protected if it is stored on a reputable, professionally-managed cloud server rather than on office computers or laptop. Firms which decide not to invest in modern IT infrastructure will not only lose clients and their potential revenue, but could face serious consequences in the years to come. It is a high probability that our client base is already using such high technology, and failing to keep pace with them will make our law business look outdated, ill-prepared and not partner worthy. To ensure seamless integration between the clients and firms, it is imperative to invest in technology which reaps long-term benefits.
Follow LexTalk World for more news and updates from International Legal Industry.