Technology: We couldn’t imagine our lives without it today. When smartphones first came out we were in awe of how much they could do, but now we treat them like an afterthought – walking around with tiny computers in our pockets is no longer seen as a luxury, but a necessity.
This means that you probably already have more tech skills than you think. For whatever reason, many lawyers are reluctant to embrace technology in their professional lives, even though they rely heavily on it in their personal lives. Maybe it’s because it seems like there’s more at stake if something goes wrong at work, or maybe it’s because legal technology seems sophisticated and learning about it is daunting.
Here’s the good news: Many legal tech offerings today mimic the consumer technology platforms you already know and use regularly. This means you already have the skills to use them, you just need to apply them to new tools.
Here are some key ways legal tech is taking a page out of the consumer tech playbook.
- Expense management – Let’s face it: law is a business, which means you have to both spend and make money to be successful. So why would you insist on using accounting processes that only serve to create obstacles to getting there? Between online banking apps from all the major banks, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, and more, we’ve all been tracking finances, paying bills, and accepting money on the go for years now. Labor budgeting should be no different. Today, there are countless automated legal case management platforms that allow you to track expenses, approve invoices, submit payments, and more, all from your mobile phone. Tracking and managing your legal expenses doesn’t have to be more labor intensive than keeping control of your own bank accounts.
- A service marketplace – When you want to buy a new lamp or book a trip, you probably head straight online. Thanks to marketplace sites like Amazon, Expedia, eBay, etc., we’re used to being able to easily find the things we need while still giving us a wide range of options. As Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) have dramatically increased corporate legal services’ options for purchasing legal services, the industry has begun to embrace the consumer marketplace model. Several platforms have sprung up where you can purchase the specific types of legal services you need at a price that fits your budget – essentially one-stop-shops for all your legal needs.
- On-demand service models – Similar to the market concept, some ALSPs make legal services available on short notice or for ad hoc needs, such as coverage of routine hearings or assistance with a single case. Just as you would hire an Uber or Lyft for a single occasion, now you can use the same on-demand approach to fill any gaps that might exist in your internal staff.
- AI-powered search – We all know that person who can’t wait to say “Hey, Siri” whenever a question arises. Whether you speak it or Google a question yourself, you’ve learned to trust AI to produce predictive search results designed to answer the question you’re asking, not just find resources. on a particular subject. Major legal research tools are following this path today, integrating AI and natural language processing into their research platforms to answer basic legal questions, not just to generate source documents. This means you can still do in-depth Boolean research on complex legal topics, but you can also get high-level answers and the right search path faster by researching your way of thinking.
- Social networks – Love it or hate it, social media is not going away. It has become a legitimate business tool, as well as a place where lawyers can get vetted career advice. LinkedIn has long been considered the professional social media platform, but law-specific social media platforms are emerging where lawyers can get real answers from their peers — like an industry-specific Glassdoor or Reddit. If you want to know how your in-house salary compares to similar companies or what tools and ALSPs help other in-house lawyers succeed, there are valuable channels you can tap into.
Legal technology is here to stay, and innovation will continue to transform the way in-house lawyers do their jobs. If you’re hesitant to integrate legal technology into your daily work, fear not. The more legal tech matures, the more it seeks to mimic the consumer experience, focusing less on features and functionality, and more on what users want out of it.
The skills you’ve honed over the years (whether you realize it or not) using technology in your personal life are highly transferable to the tools that allow you to be more productive, efficient and successful at work. Even better, the time and cost savings can be far more valuable than the sheer convenience of using apps on your smartphone.
Paragon is a leading legal services firm that provides interim in-house counsel to key corporate legal departments.
Paragon attorneys have deep experience in a wide range of practice areas – including privacy, employment, and intellectual property – and are ready to help your legal team meet its next challenge.
Whether you’re looking for specific expertise, the flexibility to move attorneys between teams, or assistance during a hiring freeze or tight budget period, Paragon has you covered.
Contact us for more information about Paragon and our attorneys.