The technology sector is continuing to rapidly evolve, with the metaverse, NFTs, the blockchain and a host of other advancements sweeping industry discussions in the last year. The legal industry is deeply connected to tech advancements and as a result is also adapting to the “new normal”. In keeping with this, firms that are able to understand and expertly advise on these trends and advancements are well situated to meet changing client expectations, increasing demand and fostering growth.
Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing
As firms continue to work digitally and in hybrid or remote roles, the ability to collate and organize data and documents efficiently and maintain accessibility for employees and clients will be vital. Centralized databases, driven by AI and machine learning, can massively increase efficiency in classifying and annotating law documents, as well as identify and review privileged documents out of massive document populations. These tasks normally require extensive time and cost for firms; law firms have reported that 48 percent of their time is spent completing administrative tasks.
Furthermore, AI systems can manage and organize document processing for firms while also assisting in drafting non-templated documents. The potential for these systems to manage and store massive amounts of data can also allow firms to identify key market trends, areas with room for improvement or growth and new strategies to meet client needs.
Additionally, 90 percent of firms do not at the moment use AI in their practice, giving firms who develop the necessary expertise a competitive advantage.
Blockchain and Cybersecurity
Another aspect of the legal industry that is being driven by technology is the authentication of court documents, witness statements, evidence and full documentation of client work and the legal process. The blockchain can help to solve this problem.
In essence, the “blockchain” is a distributed database, which stores information in a digital format. Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, use blockchain technology to maintain a decentralized record of transactions. For legal firms, this tech can be used to guarantee the fidelity and security of documents and data, helping to maintain client confidentiality. By storing all documents and data in a secure blockchain, clients, consumers and firms can have easy access to necessary information. By creating contracts, or “smart contracts” through the blockchain, law firms can expedite contract and administrative processes, lower costs for clients, which in turn can speed up legal proceedings considerably.
Finally, this technology can add a vital layer of security for documents and client information. This is an area of increasing importance, as in 2021, 26 percent of firms reported at least one data breach of their systems or documents.
Technology and NFT Litigation and Regulation
The other side of the coin for the technology boom across all industries is the increased need for law firms that can advise and counsel on new litigation and regulations. The necessity for expertise on these technologies is already here. The National Conference of State Legislatures summarized the actions taken by states in 2021 around the country concerning cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, and businesses operating in these spheres will need to stay at the forefront of any updates or changes to laws and language.
There have already been calls to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, particularly concerning its effect on the environment. Per reports, the production of Bitcoin used more electricity last year than the entirety of the Netherlands. Clients will want to prioritize transparency, fairness and ethics into their AI and cloud computing softwares in order to diminish the change for bias in outcomes.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have brought with them their own privacy and legal concerns. As these assets, commonly works of digital art, continue to proliferate and in some cases sell for millions of dollars, intellectual property law will become crucial for creators, consumers and businesses in the field.
The adoption of technologies by legal firms, along with a clear understanding and expertise on new trends like the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, will help to not only streamline operations and reduce costs and time for law firms, but will also do the same for clients and aid in meeting ever-changing needs and expectations.