Lawyers, like real estate agents, often try to make a good first impression on prospective clients by surrounding themselves with luxury items, to send the message to clients that they are successful enough in their work that they can afford these things. If you have room in your budget for keeping up with the Joneses, you would be wiser to spend it on an elegant new suit, a Rolex watch, or a down payment on a Mercedes Benz, rather than on fancy gadgets to show that you have a technologically advanced law firm. The best law firm technology is not especially eye-catching; people will hire you because you can reliably provide services for them at an affordable price, not because a robot will serve them coffee when they come to the office to meet with you. These are the most important legal tech industry trends for 2022.
Automating office tasks can allow your law firm to operate much more efficiently, thereby enabling you to offer your services at competitive rates. Automation can multiply the amount of work that one office employee can accomplish in a workday several times over. These are some of the tasks that law firms can automate:
Think about all the processes that are automatic at the doctors’ and dentists’ offices you have visited recently and about how much of your experience there as a patient was automated. It is feasible for your law office to implement at least that level of automation, especially since verbal communication and the exchange of documents plays an even bigger role in the legal profession.
Most of your new clients will have first found out about you online through a Google search. Therefore, their first impression of your law firm will come from your website and from other references to your law firm that come up when a user searches for law firms in your city that work in your practice area. As simplistic as this may sound, making sure that the name, address, and phone number are accurate and consistent everywhere they appear on the web goes a long way toward convincing Google that your business is trustworthy and important enough to rank highly on search results listings. Ranking high on Google search is one of the first options that Google offers to prospective clients. In search engine optimization (SEO) jargon, the name, address, and phone number of a business are known as its NAP data. You can ensure that your law firm’s NAP data are accurate by visiting Google My Business and other business listings sites.
Once visitors navigate to your site, you have the opportunity to make a good impression on them through the content and user experience of the site. An easy to navigate site that formats well on mobile devices is essential to a positive user experience. Also what will truly make your website stand out is if prospective clients can schedule a meeting with you directly through the site.
Cybersecurity is important for all kinds of businesses, not just for law firms, but law firms arguably have the most to lose in the event of a data breach or cyberattack. Despite this, according to the National Cyber Security Centre, more than 60% of law firms have been the targets of information breaches. Many kinds of businesses store sensitive information in their computer networks, such as customers’ credit card numbers and employees’ social security numbers. Law firms have this type of data on their computers, but they also have all kinds of confidential information that clients have shared with their attorneys privately. A data breach is bad for any company’s reputation and bottom line, but it is disastrous for a law firm.
All law firms need a cybersecurity strategy, but the resources you can invest in cybersecurity depend on the size of your law firm. Bigger law firms can and should hire security personnel full time, but smaller law firms can hire them on a consulting basis. Your cybersecurity team can test your computer network for vulnerabilities and can apply malware patches when these become available. They can also set up more secure methods of access for the network, such as cloud storage, password-protected devices, and two-factor authentication to access work email and the law firm’s online portal.
Another trend in the legal industry has to do with technology not in law firms but in court systems. During the scary earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, court systems in many states began conducting hearings and trials virtually, and now it is clear that virtual court sessions are possible. Some court systems still have their digital interfaces active, even now that courtroom sessions are back to taking place in person. If you practice law in a county where the court’s digital interface is still active, you should become proficient in using it, even if that means investing in better software at your law office.
Technology is always changing, and you do not have to overhaul your entire law firm every time a new software update becomes available. Using technology that works well and is compatible with the technology that your clients and your local court system already use will make your law firm more efficient and credible. New technologies can help you operate your law office efficiently, communicate with clients at their convenience and yours, promote your law firm’s reputation online, and interact with the court system. If you have not updated your law firm’s technology recently, then redoing your website to something more user-friendly and mobile device-accessible can help you win over prospective clients. Likewise, every law firm needs cybersecurity, even if it already has cutting edge technology in every other aspect of its practice.