The pandemic brought the legal industry into the digital age

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“We must all obey the great law of change. It is nature’s most powerful law.” — Edmund Burke, British statesman and political philosopher.

Much has changed in the trading world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The legal industry, a notorious stalwart, took a substantial leap, bypassing outdated ritual-driven practices for technology-driven efficiency.

Technology and customer focus, rather than wasteful processes, have become the new benchmark for attorneys who understand the results-driven expectations of their corporate clients. The massive implementation of technology is the driving force behind this pandemic paradigm. This modernization is not a mere facelift, but a restructuring of the legal practice, including a major shift from a lawyer-centric to a client-centric business dynamic.

digitization

The pandemic alleviated the legal sector’s lagging position in technology and an opportunity to do better. The need for an enhanced external connection was somewhat ubiquitous across the industry, with the law practice still largely stuck in the attorney-centric, labor-intensive ways. Within a few weeks, however, these bureaucratic traditional models were exchanged for a more agile, synergistic and efficient system. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype Meet Now, Webex and many other video teleconferencing platforms became an acceptable alternative to personal statements, courtroom testimony and hearings. While many courts have begun to revert to pre-pandemic operating protocols as pandemic rules have become more lax, the adoption of the digital world has been anything but transformational.

Digitally, companies across all industries are being forced to embrace the virtual world quickly. Where our lives have suddenly gone ‘online’, companies with a less tech-first mindset were at risk of being left behind. Until now, this rapid digitization has come in the form of remote working, learning and legal, online client meetings and virtual court hearings. Motions are uploaded electronically and the courts communicate with parties in the same way. Social distancing measures have freed mandatory attendance in courthouses and offices, freeing up space for more effective service delivery. After all, the inaccessible, rigid and lingering nature of the courtroom procedures was at odds with the digital age.

Related: How Law Firms and Professional Services Have Adapted to Survive Covid-19

Cloud-based technologies

Cloud-based technologies are becoming an increasingly popular tool among law firms. Investing in a serverless architecture is an effective way to streamline processes, cut costs, increase scalability and increase accessibility. New practice management systems have helped streamline all routine tasks and centralize seemingly disparate systems, increasing productivity and efficiency. Within this new digital space, menial tasks can now be ticked off faster than ever, allowing more time to be spent on what really matters: the customers.

Consumer-first mentality

The post-Covid legal sector has popularized and skewed legal practice, allowing clients to regularly contact lawyers online. Legal services are shifting from an artisanal to a business-first mentality and are now more closely aligned with the needs of the modern consumer. This digital reboot has brought some fundamental improvements to customer service: faster delivery speeds, expanded access, and increased customer satisfaction. For example, customer portals were a revolutionary solution to a customer’s desire to stay informed. Having a platform that enables communication and collaboration between the provider and the consumer is both logical and constructive.

Productization of work

If the industry used to be a guild, it is now a marketplace. Consumers of legal services are now in control and are looking for providers who can provide immediate solutions to their legal issues. This buy-sell dynamic has led to a productization of services, which in turn helps to streamline the customer journey and optimize the customer experience. With the pandemic, companies such as Upcounsel and legalmatch came to the fore. This shift towards the marketing of services has a lot to do with an increase in online vetting of attorneys and law firms, as well as consumer ratings of their services. Finding the right legal service is no longer about word of mouth. It’s about value, convenience and delivery, and consumer reviews. All unsupported claims for “elite legal work” must be consistent with what their potential customer may dig up in the cyberspace.

Related: Immediate and Long-Term Effects of Covid-19 Pandemic on the Legal and Legal Industry

Responsibility

With improved digitization comes more responsibility. Measurable results are expected in a timely manner. For any law firm that wants to prosper, meeting client expectations is non-negotiable, as is being transparent. Attorneys are most likely less concerned about getting sued for malpractice because of routine disagreements with clients than they are about getting a negative review on sites like Avvo. This consumer empowerment in the legal sector also increased during the pandemic as more and more home business people began to delve more deeply into the online experience.

Differentiation

In this new tech-savvy legal field, law firms have no choice but to partner with others in the supply chain. Operating on its own is no longer enough. Instead, they should use a cross-company/department/provider system, which will provide them with the appropriate resources and expertise needed to achieve the required results.

In the past two years, conventional legal practice has been forced to re-examine its tradition-driven protocols; the landscape was fundamentally reshaped and the robust industry known to cling to tradition was catapulted into the digital age. Indeed, this pandemic-driven technology transformation has impacted consumers, providers and the justice system itself.

Related: The disruption of the legal sector in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis

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