Historically, legal professionals are infamously slow to adopt new technologies. The entire practice of law is steeped in tradition and ritual, from judges’ long robes to the shelves of arcane books lining lawyers’ office walls.
Now more than ever, legal departments stand to benefit from adopting the latest IT & contract management solutions. New services, tools, and capabilities are arriving all the time, making it easier for legal professionals to conduct research, manage contracts, and offer advice to their clients.
In this article, we’ll discuss four of the most important trends that should encourage lawyers to take up new technologies.
1. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is no longer a buzzword or a flash in the pan; it’s an established business best practice. In fact, 96 percent of organizations are now using the cloud in some form or fashion. From better data security and reliability to less need for in-house IT staff, the benefits of cloud computing are well-established.
Because information is stored in the cloud in a centralized, off-site location, users can access it and do their work from anywhere, on any device—including computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. What’s more, you can efficiently search through massive quantities of data to get the answers and insights you need fast.
2. The Millennial Workforce
As the U.S. workforce ages and begins to retire, legal departments will need new blood to rejuvenate and revitalize their legal practices. Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, which means that employers must pay more attention to their needs and desires.
According to a 2016 survey by Microsoft, 93 percent of millennials say that working for a company with updated technology is “very important.” Cutting-edge technologies will play an increasingly important role in attracting talented millennials, helping them increase their productivity and prevent them from wasting their valuable time and effort.
3. Cybersecurity Threats
From trade secrets to sensitive data on their clients, legal departments are in possession of a great deal of highly valuable information. This makes them a lucrative target for malicious actors looking to monetize their hacks and data breaches. According to a 2017 study by the Ponemon Institute and IBM, the average cost of a cyber attack on a company in the U.S. is now $7.3 million.
Many in the legal industry can testify to the devastating effects of ransomware: malicious software that locks down infected computers and requests a sizable payment to restore access to the user’s files. Meanwhile, regulations such as HIPAA and New York’s Cybersecurity Regulation 500 order healthcare and financial services companies to deal only with organizations that take suitable precautions to protect their data.
All this means that legal departments must take adequate technological preparations to secure their confidential and proprietary information, thereby establishing themselves as a trusted emissary.
4. Greater Efficiencies and Lower Costs
The legal industry, in particular, requires a great deal of tedious, repetitive manual work—activities that could be automated by the right software application. McKinsey & Company estimates intelligent software could perform 22 percent of a lawyer’s job.
Automation is just one way that legal professionals can become more efficient through technological innovation. Cloud-based software solutions for legal professionals allow for the easy management of clients, cases, and processes. Time, once wasted, is gone forever, which can be especially troublesome considering the squandered resources, and lost opportunities that can result. Employing a smart contract management system is one way technology is helping legal departments make precious time count.