The legal industry continues to evolve at a breakneck pace. Rapidly emerging technologies and innovations hold the potential to upend longstanding methods of structuring and executing transactions, organizing businesses, presenting cases to courts, and managing law offices.
Here are nine ways lawyers can thrive in navigating today’s rapidly changing legal landscape.
1. Try Legal Project Management
Legal Project Management (LPM) involves the application of a traditional project management framework – planning, scoping, budgeting, reporting, and closing – to the delivery of legal services. Lawyers have always been de facto project managers. Still, until recently, they have rarely provided the sort of forward-looking transparency about their work that customers of any other industry have long come to expect. With the help of a designated project manager and LPM technology, law firms embarking on anything from complex litigation to a massive real estate deal can manage costs, set client expectations, and improve their efficiency and resource allocation.
2. Harness AI
Technologists have long predicted the day that artificial intelligence (AI) will usher in a world of omniscient machines, but that moment has yet to arrive. AI has, however, made great strides in turbo-charging legal technology, particularly in the realm of processing and interpreting vast amounts of information. Today, AI makes legal research more intuitive and accurate. It can digest and summarize immense volumes of regulatory text. It can review and spot errors in deal documents and pleadings. So, while we are still a long way away from a robot takeover of the legal profession, lawyers can harness AI right now to make their jobs easier, less tedious, and more accurate.
3. Go Bilingual
In virtually every legal market in the United States, a portion of the pool speaks little-or-no English. These “would-be” clients demand a wide variety of legal services, from small business owners in need of contract and tax advice, to personal injury victims who feel powerless to access justice. Adding bilingual capability to the legal answering service of a firm holds the promise of tapping into this Spanish-speaking population. Lawyers can benefit from developing a language proficiency to serve just about any substantial group of non-English speakers living or working in their local area.
4. Get CRM or Case Management Software
Nothing turns a client off to a law firm more than feeling forgotten or misunderstood. Client Relationship Management (CRM) and Case Management Software exists to protect firms against client information and needs slipping through the cracks. It aids in systematizing legal client intake, reminding attorneys to follow up, and facilitating cross-disciplinary marketing to capture more existing client business. Client satisfaction is bound to go up when there is a system in place to help your team remember to follow up and also anticipate your clients’ needs.
5. Use Data Analysis
Ever-increasing computer power has made it cheaper and easier than ever to extract insight from large volumes of data. Lawyers who harness data analysis can gain an edge by spotting trends in how courts or judges decide certain types of cases or how the timing or content of a filing may affect how regulators react to it. In short, if the only thing standing between you and valuable insight for your client is your inability to commit enough time to sift through the relevant empirical evidence, then data analysis can help you do your job better and faster.
6. Connect with Clients
New technologies that promise to streamline and accelerate our work can sometimes blind us to the fact that, as lawyers, we still earn our living in a service profession. Apps and algorithms do not hire us; people do. Remember to use legal technology to facilitate, not replace, human connections with your clients. Taking the time to show empathy, kindness, and consideration especially through the service of a virtual receptionist for lawyers will help your practice and, more importantly, make you a happier, healthier lawyer.
7. Provide Useful Information
Every lawyer has (or should have) some sort of online presence these days. However, merely maintaining websites and LinkedIn profiles does not differentiate attorneys from the herd. To stand-out, lawyers and firms should publish useful, well-written content that speaks directly to their ideal client’s needs. Make your firm the place clients and potential-clients go to understand issues relevant to them, and you will earn and keep their business, too.
8. Enter the Cloud
Every law firm will have to confront the impracticality of interacting with, storing, and managing its own data on-site. Firms have neither the space, the budget, nor the technological capability to maintain rooms full of server computers. Instead, they can save money and become more efficient by moving their computing and data-storage capabilities to the cloud, where economies of scale make computing and storage cheaper and more reliable than any in-house solution.
9. Outsource Legal Intake
First impressions of your firm can make the difference between winning a client’s business and losing it to the competition. You want your firm’s best foot forward every time a potential client reaches out. That means being present and responsive around the clock. Outsourcing initial client communication can give your firm the complete coverage and public-facing persona you need to convert each and every inquiry into a new client relationship.
Embrace the Future of the Legal Industry
The legal profession has a time-honored tendency to resist change. However, savvy lawyers know that technological change will happen in this profession, and fast – like it or not.
By following the tips above, lawyers can ensure that their practice stays current and responsive to clients’ needs while honoring the traditions and institutions that make lawyering a human-focused, service-centered endeavor.