Technology has played an increasingly important role in the last few decades across all industries. The rapid integration of tech in the working world has led to huge changes in many sectors. A look at how telemedicine has transformed healthcare or robotics has reshaped manufacturing shows the extent to which this is true.
This technological boom has also affected the legal profession and led to concrete changes in how people not only move down this career path but also how they go about their work within it. It has also had an impact on what clients expect from the legal profession and how law firms themselves operate. But in what specific ways has technology made a positive impact on the legal profession in recent years?
Online technology now enables people to gain the qualifications needed to break into the legal profession. Remote learning courses allow students to study from home via the internet and use a range of tech resources such as email or video conferencing platforms to stay in touch with their tutors.
By using technology to help people access legal training, remote learning courses make it more convenient than ever to pick up the skills required. The JD degree online at Cleveland State University is a popular course for those looking to study remotely for a qualification that helps them forge a career in the legal sector.
Online meetings and online law firms
Although physical law firms still meet the demands of many clients, technology in this sector has allowed a more flexible service. Remote working has become a major trend around the world in general and is happening across the legal profession in greater numbers.
As such, home working and virtual offices are a growing part of the industry. Law firms are embracing this trend because it cuts back on the overheads running a physical office creates. People working in this sector are also gravitating towards working from home due to the convenience, flexibility, and reduced commuting costs it delivers.
Working in a more remote manner is also beneficial to clients. Using the latest internet-based meeting platforms (such as MS Teams) to conduct meetings is a good example as it saves clients the hassle of having to travel to discuss their cases in person. Additionally, a brief look through a law firm’s website is an easy, quick way for clients to see if the firm in question can help them. Examples like this show just why technology is making such a major impact in the legal sector.
Virtual hearings on the rise
In addition to online tech transforming how people train to move into the legal profession and how they interact with clients, digital technologies have also made an impact on how legal hearings are conducted.
With virtual hearings in Florida confirmed as constitutional in late 2020, the video conferencing platform Zoom was soon being used in a compensation case in the state. The trial was carried out virtually and saw the jurors taking part in the proceedings via this digital platform. The success of this case should lead to more virtual hearings in future, especially considering the convenience they offer to jurors and the greater speeds in terms of cases being heard.
File sharing and AI in the legal profession
Anyone involved in this industry knows that the sharing of files and the collection/storage of information are crucial elements of the work. While this might have meant keeping paper files in the past and physically handing them to those involved with a case, technology has started to change this somewhat.
Popular file-sharing resources, such as Dropbox, are now being used by those working in law to share key information securely. This can involve sharing contracts for signatures, off- case-related information, and communication with clients. By giving lawyers somewhere safe to store and share documents, these tech-based platforms have greatly facilitated the legal process.
When it comes to modern trends in technology that have impacted the legal profession, AI must also be mentioned. Some law firms are now using AI-backed digital tools to conduct legal research, and AI-based law firms using this sophisticated tech to meet clients’ needs are on the rise.
Best practices for integrating technology into law firms
The above examples show the positive impact technology has made on the legal profession in recent decades. However, following best practices when using tech in this setting is crucial. But what sort of thing should you consider?
To begin with, you should always make sure that incorporating the latest technologies will improve the workflow and result in a more efficient way of operating for the firm. In addition, you should also consider the needs of the client when using tech in this industry. If, for example, you operate in a community that prefers face-to-face client meetings, it is best practice to continue to offer this way of doing business. If the demand is there for virtual meetings, however, introducing them to cater to client demand is worthwhile.
Due to the nature of the profession and the data it deals with, it is also key to ensure any tech you bring into a law firm is ultra-secure. This is especially true for any tech used to share files, store client details, and conduct online meetings. Investing in staff training for any new tech incorporated into the business is also vital if its use is to be effective.
Tech in the legal sector has made waves
There is no doubt that the impact of technology in the legal profession has been huge. It has led to real change in how people gain the qualifications needed to work in industry and how law firms operate. With virtual hearings on the rise, tech is also transforming how cases are dealt with by courts. With more developments in this area expected in future, the legal profession is certainly moving with the times.