Contributed by Cara Marcy

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting global industries, the world rapidly shifted to digital, changing the way companies across sectors and borders operate and transforming how people work. However, the legal industry has previously fallen behind digital advancement, as it has tended to lean on more traditional methods.

But with this crisis, Chris Fowler, the General Counsel of BT Group, notes that the end of the legal field’s incrementalism is now to be seen. In order to improve their services and engage with clients better, it needs to harness the technologies of today. This article will take a look at the benefits of digital transformation for the legal sector, as well as the remaining challenges blocking its widespread adoption.

Benefits of Digital Transformation

With newer technology, there will be a noticeable increase in productivity. Instead of sticking to paper methods, employees can streamline operations using digitised processes, enabling them to work anywhere and address urgent matters, too.

Moreover, tedious tasks can now be minimised using automation. On top of empowering teams to be more efficient with their time, Verizon Connect highlights how automation can impact your bottom line. It helps firms save on paper and ink, as well as the space needed to store paperwork. Electronic, automated paper trails offer a more organised workflow that can lead to digitally proficient customer satisfaction. It also gives an opportunity to harness the full potential of a team by allowing them to focus their expertise on more productive work.

Digitalisation also allows professionals to cut down the hours spent in legal research, as there have already been applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the field. For instance, AI can assist litigators in searching for background data and extracting vital information from contracts and other documents through algorithms. AI can also immediately provide answers to FAQs and advice on legal matters, allowing 24/7 reliable customer service. There are now even technology companies that specialise in handling legal cases online, like the app amicable, which aims for civility and financial wellness in online divorces.

Plus, with an added cyber element, client information can be made more secure and confidential, further strengthening attorney-client relationships. Advanced cyber security systems can now identify, classify, secure, and monitor sensitive information, making it accessible only to authorised parties.

Challenges in the Legal Sector

Disruptions in the way any profession is practised may cause drastic changes if the people involved are not ready. Similarly, these technological advancements in the legal field will not be maximised fully if the practitioners will not embrace these changes and reinvent their skills.

Another contributing factor to this lack of urgency is the anxiety surrounding what this technology may do to the industry. Concerns may include the possibility of breached data, which may endanger clients’ confidence and cause potential legal complications. Also, not all law firms are willing to invest in an overhaul of the IT systems already in place. They may be unwilling to commit resources in light of uncertainties over the return on investment.

But this fear can easily be alleviated by thoroughly studying the next steps involved. After all, change will never take place if fear always takes over. Furthermore, the culture imposing lawyers’ linear thinking and tendency to be set in their ways must also be shattered. They now must be able to catch up with the demands of changing their business models and providing new value-producing opportunities.

Indeed, in these times of everything digital, transformation is encouraged — and even demanded — from businesses. However, not all of them possess the needed resources and skills to do so. Nevertheless, as client expectations lean towards digital processes and instant services, they would soon anticipate that their legal counsels also adapt. To ensure success in the future, law firms must slowly shift themselves to be more client-focused and digital-forward.