I’ll restate the obvious: social distancing has forced many lawyers to switch from working onsite to working remotely.
This in turn has forced even the most hardcore laggards to rely on a number of softwares that make it easier to work remotely: video call technology and collaborative working platforms. For some, this has meant adopting generalistic tools like Zoom, Slack, Google Drive and the likes. For others, specific legal tech solutions like practice management software.
“Sudden and abrupt work from home has caused many legal professions to learn new software and ways of working” says Ron Friedmann.
Technology entered the law firm – lawyers have been forced to switch.
But how big of a switch is this?
Using Zoom instead of a meeting room can be a starting point, but really doesn’t add to turning law firms into hi-tech hubs.
There are cases where moving toward a more comprehensive technology doesn’t come that easy. For firms which are still heavily paper-based, the adoption of cloud-based knowledge management systems can’t be improvised overnight.
“Many firms are still limited to computer systems that operate only within an office. Many are not even that far along, still relying heavily on paper filing systems. They have virtually no infrastructure for their staff to work offsite and virtually no clue of where to start.” writes Bob Ambrogi.
In these cases, the move toward technology is more difficult, more expensive and more time-consuming. However, if the effects of the pandemic linger on for a few more months – or possibly years – and the lockdown gets extended, reinstated or turned on and off, implementing some radical legal technology changes appears very much needed.
The necessity to work remotely is boosting law firms toward considering the adoption of some legal tech. If it’s enough of a boost, I don’t know.
Then there’s another aspect: free time.
Workloads have dramatically shrunk, and clients have paused or cancelled projects.
While this has forced many to look for more clients, other jobs or additional sources of revenue to stay afloat, it has given others an opportunity to learn or gain additional expertise.
I talked with several of my acquaintances – they found themselves with a lot of spare time on their hands.
In some cases, they decided to use the spare time in the best way they could – studying. Learning. Keeping up with the legislative changes.
Trying out a new legal technology, for the ones that have been toying with the idea, was the next step.
E-discovery, document automation, AI document analysis and review, legal research software and the like. Part of the reason why some lawyers haven’t yet approached some of this technology had to do with the – sometimes steep – learning curve associated with it.
According to the Law Society, lack of skills and low levels of awareness and confidence are among the barriers to limited adoption of law tech solutions by UK law firms.
So, the pandemic is changing the way lawyers work, at least for now. Is embracing technology a “matter of immediate survival” as Bob Ambrogi puts it? I’m not sure. I guess it depends on the technology.
Let’s say it’s a good opportunity to get lawyers acquainted with the idea of technology and a chance to get them mingled with some good legaltech.
And perhaps even a litmus test for many of these legal tech solutions – the ones that deliver real value are here to stay.
Pandemic is a testbed for legal tech.
And of course, that’s true for us as well, as we have skin in the game: if you’re interested in playing out with our document automation technology, give us a shout.