These days, virtually every single industry is utilizing technology to maximize efficiency and productivity, and the legal market is no exception. There are individualized and packaged software solutions and cloud-based applications that address a myriad of business issues, including the specialized needs of small, medium, and large law firms as well as in-house counsel teams. Of course, the legal industry faces unique challenges when it comes to incorporating technology into its practices in light of the importance of confidentiality. Regardless, legal technology is a flourishing market, so here are some aspects to pay attention to this year:
Data Privacy and Security
Far too many reputable companies have been hit with massive data breaches, so ramping up data privacy and security measures has to be a top priority for businesses, especially those involved in the legal sphere. Fortunately, providers of legal technology understand that this is a huge concern among law firms and strive to incorporate the most stringent data security standards available. Things like advanced encryption, multi-factor authentication, disabled editing and printing, and watermarking are critical to ensuring that confidential data remains confidential. It is also important for law firms to minimize the circulation of documents that contain sensitive client data, so documents must be stored and shared in a way that will not allow the data to be compromised.
Data security may be an absolute necessity, but so is quick access to information and the ability to share data easily and safely. As a result, many law firms are looking to utilize cloud-based applications that allow attorneys to access, review, edit, and send important documents from various electronic devices. Many applications are designed to streamline the activities of lawyers, for example by funneling any emails or documents pertinent to a particular matter into one secure location. Given that these kinds of applications may be used on a laptop or mobile device, it is important for there to be measures in place to prevent anyone from accessing the information, such as by requiring a unique code or biometric data like a fingerprint.
Contract Management and E-Signatures
The shift to cloud-based data retention and management encompasses many types of documents, and there is growing reliance on electronically signing and saving important documents. Lawyers are heavily involved in contracting, as they often help negotiate, draft, and manage contracts within their own firms as well as for their clients. As a result, signing, saving, and managing contracts via an online purpose-built solution is becoming increasingly common. Many firms utilize software specifically geared for e-signing, but when it comes to contracts, it makes sense to find a solution with a broader scope of utility. Contract management software that is designed to facilitate the entire contracting life cycle, including the actual signing of the agreement, is vital.
Perhaps one of the most exciting and growing areas of technology is the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Computer programs with AI capability are able to complete many of the tedious facets of legal practice, such as reviewing documents to parse out certain terms and conditions, mining documents during litigation discovery, or scouring data during a due diligence investigation. In addition, AI can be used to evaluate data and even make predictions based on the analyzed data. Firms that utilize technology with AI abilities are bound to save countless precious hours and will witness marked improvements in their overall productivity.