Has Law Office Tech Reached a Tipping Point?

Some changes are here to stay.

The use of law office technology reached a tipping point in 2020, as lawyers in firms large and small embraced remote work, cloud computing and video conferencing.

But even after the pandemic has passed, these technologies will remain, says the Legal Technology Evangelist.

“For than a decade, I’ve been yelling from the rooftops (and writing into the ether) about the need for lawyers to both understand and use technology in their day-to-day practices,” says attorney Nicole Black, the self-styled Legal Technology Evangelist. “Some lawyers listened – many didn’t. I often struggled to figure out how to get through to lawyers, both locally and nationally, and encourage them to appreciate and take advantage of the many benefits of technology. Little did I know that all it would take was a global pandemic.”

Law firms made it through the Year of COVID – some even thrived – by doing the following, says Black:

  • Adapting to more efficient use of office and administrative space
  • Rethinking changes in staffing and work patterns
  • Altering levels of secretarial support
  • Reducing expectations for in-person meetings
  • Increasing the efficiency of digital connections
  • Reducing business travel

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The Law Profession Reaches a Tipping Point

Black’s post on the Above the Law website is titled Has the Legal Profession Reached a Tech Adoption Tipping Point? Her answer – which is not shared by all tech experts – is yes. Following are some highlights of her piece (all quotes are hers).

A new view of working from home. “Before the pandemic, remote working was looked upon with suspicion, and even derision. Most lawyers didn’t believe that work could be accomplished effectively from home, and the value of face time was of paramount importance. It’s strange, but not surprising, how that perception changed once there was no other way to get work done. Most firms now acknowledge that remote working — though clearly different from in-person operations — can work.”

New appreciation for tech. “Partners in most firms probably now have a broader acceptance of the role of technology in the effective delivery of legal services than before the pandemic began. Indeed, 84 percent of partners surveyed by Acritas expected their firms to increase investments in technology. … This is not to say that resistance to future change will disappear, but the experience of adapting to the radically changed market conditions in 2020 may well create more openness to experimentation in other forms of service delivery.”

Rethinking workspaces.“Real estate has always been one of the top overhead expenses for law firms. Costly, impressive offices were deemed a necessary part of doing business and attracting clients. The pandemic completely flipped that narrative on its head. Law firm leaders realized that working from home worked, there was still profit to be had regardless of where the work was performed, and expensive office space and face-time requirements were simply a waste of resources.”

Looking to the future. “It seems fairly clear that — whether it is a tipping point or not — the experiences of 2020 and 2021 will accelerate important changes in the way law firms operate and relate to their clients, lawyers, and staffs moving forward. Firms that take these changes seriously and respond to them proactively will undoubtedly emerge as the market leaders in the ‘new’ post-pandemic normal.”

What about your firm? Have you adopted new forms of legal tech in the past year? How has it worked out for you?

Source: Above the Law

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