It’s no secret that the legal profession is undergoing a period of unprecedented upheaval. Regulations, consolidation in the market and new legal structures are all impacting change. And that’s before we look at Brexit and the possibility of modifications to the hundreds of laws, rules and regulations which currently govern the UK. But, according to a new report published by business advisory firm BDO LLP, it is advancements in technology which are set to have the greatest impact on law firms over the next five years.
The findings, which are the result of surveying the managing partners and senior partners at over 60 UK and international law firms, reveal that:
- Over 80% believe that technology will be the factor most likely to have the biggest impact on their firm
- 94% believe that technology must become a strategic priority going forward if it isn’t already.
However, whether or not solicitors see advancements in technology as a good thing is still unclear. Indeed, while many think that it will lead to greater efficiencies and productivity, a significant number of respondents fear that it could replace lawyers, stripping work and revenue from firms.
Of course, AI is big news. And, with some experts predicting that machine learning will surpass human intelligence by around 2045, it’s no wonder that lawyers are worried. But, while there is no doubt that cloud computing, algorithms and AI will transform the legal profession it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, while a 2013 study on the future of employment found that paralegals had a staggering 94% chance of being replaced by robots, this figure drops to just 3.5% for lawyers.
But what tech is currently having the biggest impact on modern law firms?
- Practice management systems. Legal practice management systems run from the very good, to the very, very bad. While law firms tend to be behind the curve on significant shifts in technology, and security concerns remain key, expect to see an increase in cloud-based systems over the next few years.
- Hosted desktops. Helping users to access everything they need to do their job, on any device, even if they aren’t in the office, hosted desktops deliver increased flexibility, scalability, productivity, efficiency, and resilience. So it’s no wonder that law firms are using them to solve their growing business challenges. What’s more, by bringing together processes and data, the hosted desktop delivers enhanced management information. This can lead to more informed decision making, and even create opportunities for new revenue streams.
- Cloud technology. At present, 27% of business and professional services companies put enabling the mobile workforce in their top three reasons for using cloud technology. However, with the UK in the midst of a mobile working revolution, and 50% of the workforce predicted to be remote by 2020, we should expect this percentage to increase.
- Artificial intelligence (AI). The cloud and AI are closely interlinked, with imminent developments expected to take automation and customer service to a whole new level. So, investing in SaaS (Software as a Service) now could see your firm future-proof its position in the market.
- Client portals. To meet evolving client expectations, law firms should offer a secure client portal to boost satisfaction levels. Not only does this help to put clients’ at ease, but it also removes the burden on your fee-earners by reducing the number of calls they have to deal with on a daily basis.
- Big data services. Big data is the information an organisation has access to which could be used for discovery and analysis. The ability to harness big data leads to improved performance at all levels. So, firms that are not yet using software to provide them with the most up to date and precise data, from multiple sources are likely to fall behind.
To find out how we can help your firm keep up with the latest technological advancements, speak to a member of our team on 01942 263 434 or email email@example.com today.
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 Harvey Nash / KPMG Survey: 2016