Legal Technology—Trends and Options to Choose From
By Morgan Martinez
Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Automation.
New technologies continue to evolve the legal landscape. As lawyers adapt to recent industry-wide changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, many wonder: What’s next? And how can we be prepared?
In this guide, we’re breaking down what attorneys need to know about legal technology, including:
- A brief overview of legal technology
- Different types of legal technologies and their benefits
- Emerging legal technology trends to prepare for
- Tech tools that automate time-consuming work, so law firms can increase productivity and profitability
What is Legal Technology?
Legal technology refers to IT tools that help lawyers become more efficient, stay compliant with regulations, and increase profit. Below are a few common examples of legal tech.
- Legal practice management software (LPM), including MyCase
- Time-tracking software
- Invoicing and billing software
- Legal accounting software
- Client intake and lead management software
- Full-text search to enable conflict checking
- Workflow automation software
- Legal research
Implementing just one of these new legal technology tools can help improve your practice. For example, 38% of surveyed lawyers say that legal billing software with invoicing features saves them six to 15+ hours per month (per the MyCase 2021 Legal Industry Report).
Let’s discuss the various types of legal technology and their benefits below.
Types of Legal Technology and Benefits
There are three categories of legal tech, according to Bucerius Law School and Boston Consulting Group.
- Enabler technologies
- Support process solutions
- Substantive law technology
1. Enabler Technologies
Enabler technologies focus on platform infrastructure, security, cloud computing, and connectivity. Their purpose is to digitize data and enable users to perform business-related activities more easily and securely. These technologies may be designed specifically for attorneys or for a multitude of industries.
For example, cybersecurity solutions from McAfee and Palo Alto Networks are not legal-specific. Yet, security-minded firms can use these technologies to address their data security needs. This may be particularly important when serving large corporate clients with strict security requirements.
2. Support Process Solutions
These solutions help lawyers perform their daily business-management tasks more productively. Support process solutions include law firm customer relationship management (CRM) software, legal accounting software, client portal tools, and LPM software.
Our survey of more than 2,000 lawyers shows that this emerging legal technology automates administrative work, makes case management more efficient, and improves collaboration within legal teams and between lawyers and clients. The survey research also reveals the following benefits:
- More than 50% of respondents whose firms use document assembly software saved at least 10 minutes every time they created a document using a template.
- 92% of lawyers claimed that collaborating on documents was somewhat or significantly easier when using document-collaboration software.
- 55% of respondents whose firms use time-tracking software said they captured additional time every month, with 17% of these lawyers claiming to capture at least 11 additional hours monthly.
- Of the 77% of lawyers whose firms use online payment processing software, more than half said that their firms collected more money because of case management technology.
- 42% of attorneys said their firms use online lead intake tools. More than half of this group reported that their firms captured more leads, with 19% saying they captured at least 11 additional leads per month.
3. Substantive Law Technology
The third category of legal tech features specialized litigation solutions and case analysis tools. This emerging legal technology focuses on substantive work instead of support process solutions that facilitate administrative, human resources, and business management tasks. They can be used to support or replace lawyers who perform core tasks in litigation cases and transactions.
For example, substantive law technology may include a contract analysis tool that scans for potentially problematic provisions. Or, a data analysis tool may help legal teams assess prior court and judge decisions to calculate the odds of winning a case.
What are the Latest Trends in Legal Technology?
As the legal industry continues to evolve rapidly, lawyers who keep up with emerging legal technology trends will remain competitive and maximize their success. Below, learn about the latest news and how your law firm can leverage these legal technology trends for greater profitability.
Increased Spending on Legal Technology
According to the 2022 Bloomberg Law Legal Operations and Technology Survey, nearly half of lawyer respondents reported an increase in their organization’s technology spend over the previous year. Additionally, 45% of respondents saw a greater number of software applications used in their organizations.
When asked why their teams are using new legal technology, respondents said:
- To increase productivity (86%)
- To better workflows (71%)
- To meet client or organizational needs (66%)
- To improve quality of work (65%)
Streamlined Workflows for Time and Cost Savings
Gartner predicts that by 2024, in-house legal departments will automate 50% of legal work involved in corporate transactions.
Similarly, firms are also using automation and support process technologies to streamline workflows, which saves time and money. In fact, our 2021 Legal Industry Report found that 88% of firms now use cloud SaaS products, compared to 76% before the pandemic. The most common types of legal software include the following.
1. Cloud-Based LPM Software
Our internal data shows that lawyers who use MyCase LPM software see an average caseload increase of 38% and gain at least three billable hours per day. That’s not surprising, considering the scope of features—time tracking, automated billing and invoicing, and online client intake forms, to name a few.
Automating these key processes, such as invoice generation, can save law firms countless hours every month.
2. Document Management Software
Nearly 60% of surveyed lawyers reported that managing documents posed a moderate or significant challenge for their firms. Document management software can ensure that all team members have remote access to up-to-date documents, which is particularly helpful for hybrid and remote teams.
In fact, 94% of surveyed attorneys said that document management software made locating documents somewhat or significantly easier.
3. Calendar Management Software
Calendaring software can help firms easily connect with prospects and clients. It can also facilitate team collaboration and ensure that deadlines don’t fall through the cracks. For example, MyCase legal calendaring software allows you to combine your firm’s appointments, events, and meetings into one centralized calendar.
You can quickly automate routine bookings or one-off events for a particular case. Also integrate CalendarRules into your MyCase calendar to create events with court rules-based calculations. This prevents the need to manually schedule deadlines.
4. Credit Card Online Payment Tools
Did you know that firms that accept online payments experience stronger financial performance? Anonymized data from MyCase shows that collection rates for customers who accepted online payments through MyCase Payments were nearly 10% higher than those that didn’t.
Tip: Learn more in our Benchmark Report: How Lawyers Get Paid.
Improved Focus on the Client Experience
Almost 70% of lawyers see client communication as a challenge, according to our Legal Industry Report. In today’s on-demand world, clients expect better service. Fortunately, new legal technology can create a more engaging client experience—without additional administrative overhead.
For example, the MyCase Client Portal allows you to:
- Centralize case information
- Message clients
- Share important dates and case reminders
- Securely send and receive documents
- Share invoices
- Receive payments via the Portal
- Save time—14% of surveyed lawyers said that client portals saved their firms at least 10 hours every month
Clients can find everything they need in one place. Rather than calling your firm, they can receive regular messages directly from their legal team. Clients will also stay apprised with newly uploaded documents and deadlines, so they aren’t wondering what your firm is doing. And if they want to view and address unpaid invoices, they don’t have to drive down to your office.
At the end of the day, a client portal is a simple way to increase client satisfaction, save time, and ultimately generate greater profits.
Tip: Read our client portal guide to learn more about portal software and its various benefits.
How to Choose the Right Legal Tech for Your Firm
In the face of these legal technology trends, choosing the right technology for your firm may seem overwhelming. MyCase makes it simple to pick and choose the high-impact features you need, such as:
- Billing and invoicing
- Payments processing
- Legal accounting (with three-way trust account reconciliation)
- Document management
- Client Portal
Let us help you streamline your firm using technology tools designed for lawyers. Start your free 10-day trial of MyCase today.