A competitive edge can be the difference between failure and success. Many sectors have achieved excellent results by integrating technologies like big data, machine learning, and blockchain into their activity, and law firms should do the same in order to retain their edge and guarantee profitability.
The power to store and manage vast amounts of information is changing how law firms operate. This capability condenses the process of reviewing large amounts of data—for processes like acquisitions, mergers, and due diligence—into just two or three hours. Since the advent of cloud computing, more and more companies have discovered the benefits of using inexpensive digital tools to store data, thus reducing the costs associated with onsite servers and infrastructure. Thanks to the speed of this technology, the cost of managing large amounts of data has also plummeted.
Popular in Silicon Valley, this tool harnesses the power of algorithms to categorize legal documents. The process is very simple. For example, if a firm has a thousand agreements to review and classify for a due diligence proceeding, the first step is to manually classify between 10 and 30 documents as either “bad” or “good.” On the basis of this initial classification, a machine-learning algorithm can then proceed to classify the rest of the documents in a matter of hours, without human intervention. The machine “learns” from the data you provide.
The power to store and manage vast amounts of information is changing how law firms operate.
Blockchain technology—best known for its application in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin—consists of a chain of blocks of information that are used to build a peer-to-peer (P2P) distributed database.
In the legal sector, this technology has been used to track transactions. A blockchain is very difficult to modify and thus can provide a comprehensive record of any transaction. This technology’s problem-solving capability is certainly disruptive, as it could eventually replace today’s notaries and public registries.
This tool is very useful in the United States, where in patent cases, for example, it is possible to choose the court where the case will be heard. But how do you know which court is the most advantageous for a given case? To answer this question, law firms have traditionally relied on their senior partners’ experience with the various courts and knowledge of their trends. A new service called eDiscovery helps firms decide what court to choose by allowing them to consult rulings, assess the parties involved, and review a large volume of documents. With this information, teams are better equipped to decide which court offers the best chance of a positive result in a particular case.
Bot technology is often associated with cybercrime, but it can also provide immensely useful solutions for law firms. Bots can perform various tasks and eliminate the need for human intervention. For example, thanks to bots, the preparation of tax returns is now much simpler than it was five to ten years ago. One example of bot software is www.clerky.com. Their tagline is simple: “We build software to make legal paperwork easier for startups and attorneys.” In the case of an entrepreneur, for example, a computer uses basic information to generate the necessary documentation to create a corporation, a task that previously required the assistance of a lawyer. Some law firms—particularly those which need to interact with thousands of clients in a short period of time—also use bots to communicate with each client.
Searches based on cost and speed will nudge clients towards one firm or another, so technology will be the factor that sets the competitive organizations apart.
And so to the future…
These five technologies are disrupting the legal sector. In the next five to ten years, organizations that use these technologies to do unprofitable work will flourish, while those that do not will be left behind.
Law firms need to adopt a business vision. Clients will soon be choosing a firm in the same way they now use TripAdvisor to choose a restaurant or hotel. Searches based on cost and speed will nudge clients towards one firm or another, so technology will be the factor that sets the competitive organizations apart.
The future is disruption.
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