It’s 2018, and with it brings new trends and opportunities in legal services. Well, perhaps not immediately. It would be impossible to predict what will happen in the legal industry by this time next year, but things have moved more quickly in the last 5-10 years than it has in the past 100 years! Here are some of the important trends to pay attention to over the course of this year.
1. LegalTech and Innovation Hubs
There has been a rise in the number of legal focused tech and innovation hubs. Two of interest are MDR Lab and FLIP. 2018 will be a year to see what innovations come out of these type of accelerators. Also to note, the Global Legal Hackathon happening on 23-25 February 2018.
2. Improving Client Satisfaction
Client satisfaction should be at the centre of what we do. In a highly competitive industry you can expect leading firms to get ahead by offering the best experience to clients. Whether this is simply through a good website user experience, flexible fee arrangements or by going above and beyond to offer more value to the client.
3. Cloud Computing
The way we store and utilise data is becoming further ingrained in the use of the mysterious “cloud”. What is this cloud? Where is it? Well, it is the notion of storing information online that persists and can be downloaded to any device. In 2018 expect agile legal services providers to fully embrace this technology (Three Strategies for making the most of Cloud Computing).
4. Work from anywhere
With information that can be downloaded to any device at any time, Lawyers have much more flexibility. Work can be done from home, on the train or even at the Beach. Rather than being out of the office, in 2018 lawyers can simply take the office with them. Clients need to get onboard with this too!
With the continual advancements of cloud computing and online databases, online security is an important trend to be wary of. As forms of cloud and digital security are still relatively unpracticed (i.e. there is no legal industry standard for security), it is possible there will be a major law-related security breach in 2018.
6. Blockchain and Smart Contracts
You may know of Blockchain as the technology behind the latest digital currency, Bitcoin. However, uses for Blockchain are now being adapted in the legal field (How Blockchain Technology Can Drive the Legal Industry Forward). Built into “smart contracts”, this technology provides a way to automatically track legally binding agreements that are impossible to hack or forge. This powerful technology is still finding its way to corporate offices and may not be adopted immediately, but we will keep our eyes on it, ready to pounce.
7. Document Automation
Document Automation is an ever-growing field in the legal industry. Leveraging this technology is the first step to increasing value to clients as a better alternative to paying paralegals to redraft similar documents each time. As template software grows more robust, expect a surging demand for this LegalTech in 2018.
8. Artificial Intelligence
AI is the next big thing. Google, Apple and the other tech giants are all currently in a race to develop the next advancement in AI systems. In the legal field, it may be here sooner than you think! In October last year, Ross Intelligence landed $8.7M for legal research with AI. Look out for advancements in 2018.