Why the Legal Profession Needs to Embrace Technology

Posted by Maura Mahoney on Tue, Dec 05, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

legal tech.jpgLawyers can sometimes be slow to adopt the latest technologies. However, changes to the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct mandate that law firms serve their clients to the best of their ability by achieving competence in technology. In 2015, the ABA Model Rules were amended to include clauses that require lawyers to understand the benefits and risks of technology.  

Today’s lawyers should recognize that technology makes networking, communicating with clients, and managing the process of eDiscovery easier, faster, and more secure. eDiscovery, or electronic discovery, is the process of finding digital information and evidence that pertains to litigation. 

Giving Law a Personal Touch

Just as retailers can use data and applications to customize consumer interactions, lawyers can use technology to connect with clients in personal ways. Portals on websites enable clients to access information and documents and communicate with their legal team. 

Unified communications tools such as video conferencing and instant messaging allow lawyers and clients to keep in touch and even speak face to face wherever they are located. These same tools can be used to help lawyers network and increase the operational efficiencies of their practices. For example, lawyers on a team can share and edit documents while preparing a case.

Making Legal Research Smarter

Of all the tasks lawyers must accomplish, eDiscovery is probably the most labor-intensive and time-consuming. All legal documents must be drafted and preserved in electronic form. Sifting through an encyclopedic amount of information to find legal precedents and the records needed to build a case is can be a herculean task. Often, lawyers and paralegals don’t get compensated for  the enormous amount of time and effort they put into eDiscovery.

Artificial intelligence streamlines the process of eDiscovery by using algorithms to find information. Advanced analytics use keywords and concepts to find relevant information. A recently developed process called push research uses context to proactively find information. Based on the types of cases a lawyer is working on, push research locates the cases and briefs required and alerts the lawyer of legal precedents.

Keeping Clients Safe

One of the amendments to the ABA Model Rules specifically addresses data protection. Under the amendment, lawyers must protect client information from unauthorized access and disclosure. 

Security is an area in which som e law firms may be lacking. The LOGICFORCE Law Firm Cyber Security Score Card surveyed law firms that were targeted by cybercriminals between 2016 and 2017. According to the survey, 40% of respondents were unaware of the breach at the time it occurred.

To protect sensitive client information and achieve the level of data integrity needed to make crucial decisions, lawyers must strengthen access management, backup, and recovery strategies. When lawyers transmit client information, they must safeguard it from being intercepted and stolen. If information does get lost or stolen, law firms need to be able to act and/or restore data quickly.

Getting Up to Speed with Law Technology

With the ABA’s new technology regulations, law firms need to make up for lost time. Lawyers must learn to use technology to manage office operations, client data, and attorney interactions. 

A sea change is occurring in the legal profession. ABA Journal recently announced the founding of a technology-first law firm, Atrium Legal Technology Services. Atrium LTS will handle all the business operations for law firms, allowing the lawyers to focus on their clients and cases.

In the Northeast, FirstLight offers the high quality technology solutions your law firm needs to optimize and secure operations and client interactions. Our fiber optic network gives you the foundation for a unified communications system that enables true collaboration and better communication with clients. We also offer cloud services for backup and disaster recovery so you have peace of mind in this world of increased threats. 

Are you taking advantage of all the benefits of technology? Let FirstLight show you how.