Emerging technologies, economical shifts and legislative changes put the legal industry in a constant state of flux. But these seven trends are set to change the legal industry as we approach the midpoint of 2017.
1. Specializations are Becoming the Norm
Today’s lawyers are expected to choose a specialization. Specializing in one area of the law positions you as an expert in the field, helping you to establish trust with potential clients and build up your brand.
More firms are seeking lawyers who focus on specific practice areas to improve efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness in the field.
Clients are looking for experts, too. Would you rather hire a “jack of all trades” lawyer, or someone with a track record of experience and success in one particular area of the law? With clients more informed on legal issues than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly important to establish yourself as an authority and expert in your chosen field of law.
2. Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)
Outsourcing has been a common business practice for years, but this trend has only recently taken off in the legal industry. Known as legal process outsourcing, or LPO, firms are now offloading tasks traditionally performed by paralegals, attorneys and other legal professionals to vendors.
LPO allows firms to take advantage of outside talent and expertise to improve efficiency and success. A firm that lacks litigation support may work with a vendor that specializes in coding and document review.
Firms can also improve their turnaround time while enjoying more flexibility thanks to LPO.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence and the legal industry? Yes. As AI can be used to streamline a variety of tasks and even cut down research time.
Artificial intelligence can be used to predict rulings, automate TAR and better prepare lawyers to argue against the opposing counsel.
ROSS is already offering an AI solution that streamlines legal research tasks, so lawyers save time and money.
When firms adopt AI solutions, they free up more time for clients.
4. Social Media
Social media has taken over virtually every facet of our lives – and that includes the legal field. Lawyers are now expected to have and be active on the major social networks, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Social networks serve not only as a powerful promotional tool, but can also help lawyers build their reputation as an expert in the field, connect with their peers and even provide feedback to clients or potential clients.
With an arsenal of virtual social media tools, lawyers are expanding their reach, build their brand and nurture client relationships.
5. E-Discovery Changes
Electronic discovery is the discovery of electronically stored information (ESI). Changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now permit the use of ESI – including instant messages, emails, graphics, voicemails and stored data – in litigation.
The growth of ESI has greatly increased the cost and complexity of litigation. A survey from Norton Rose estimates that the median annual cost of litigation was $1 million in 2016.
As ESI continues to grow, new technology and litigation support solutions will emerge to improve efficiency, accuracy and success.
6. Work-Life Balance
Today’s legal professionals demand a better work-life balance and are no longer willing to sacrifice their personal life to work harder and longer for little reward.
Firms are now meeting the demand for better balance by offering telecommuting, flex-time, phased retirement, part-time work, compressed schedules, temporary leave and a variety of other schedule options.
Legal professionals now have more freedom to choose and set their schedules, allowing for more personal time. Firms also understand that a well-rested, balanced lawyer is a more productive and successful lawyer. That sentiment applies to all members of the legal field.
A shift toward more work-life balance may fuel the adoption of AI and LPO, which eases a firm’s burden and frees up employee time.
There are no boundaries or borders in today’s legal field. Firms are crossing borders and collaborating with professionals overseas to form intercontinental mergers.
Thanks to the growth of the Internet, LPO and data security, globalization is gaining ground in the legal industry. Firms will continue to expand globally, which will reshape the landscape of the legal industry in the near future.