For many years experts have agreed that the legal sector is not really on the cutting edge when it comes to adopting the latest technology trends.
Many law firms have traditionally preferred using hard copies (paper-based) and were not interested in adopting new ways of work, technology, or moving towards digital transformation. We can even go as far as saying that most legal entities have a very conservative approach and are “set in their ways”.
During the pandemic, the legal industry had a rude awakening, as almost overnight their day-to-day operations that traditionally depended on face-to-face interaction or court appearances were unable to happen during the lockdown period. There was an urgent need to adapt to the digital age.
Market research results and reports show that the top two transformations in the delivery of legal services will involve greater use of technology and greater degree of specialization. Furthermore, 70% of legal professionals have reported the lack of technology knowledge and skills, and not understanding operating systems that use technology as the top reasons for employee resistance to new technologies.
Below some more reasons that the legal entities might have opted not to move towards digital transformation were due to:
- There is often a large number of paper-based processes within a legal firm which means that if they opt to digitize it will take a huge amount of time and resources to work through the documents and transform them into digital format.
- Legal firms interact internally and externally with multiple partners on a specific case or project which means that if they moved to a technology-based solution there would have to be buy-in and onboarding from all of the aforesaid parties.
- With multiple versions of the same contracts, all living in different areas of the business and including slightly different terms. They might be saved on personal desktops, in shared folders, or as attachments in email chains. This is a problem because people could be working on old versions of a document which in the legal sector could have implications in itself.
- Contract processes involve Word documents, track changes, mail chains, saving into PDFs version control, electronic signature, and storage of the files. Therefore, there are multiple systems at hand, and it might seem overwhelming to consolidate onto one platform.
When processes are paper-based there are limited or no data insights available. No one is able to see who the author of the document was, who made changes, and whether the document is in fact the final version. One could argue that mastering the art of addressing these challenges could be the first and fundamental requirement, not only for legal professionals but also for other business and IT professionals in the legal industry, to stay afloat and competitive in the changing legal market, which is shaped predominantly by new technologies, new competitors, increasing client expectations, technology-based regulation, and events of global magnitude (i.e. pandemics).