Legal02 November, 2019

5 trends that impact law firms in 2019

2019 is in full swing and now is the perfect time to make sure you're in the best position to meet your goals for uninterrupted growth. What could possibly side rail your firm's growth, you ask?

In this post, we explore 5 trends that will continue to shape the legal industry and will require your attention if you are to grow a competitive and profitable law firm in 2019.

Cybersecurity and data protection are still top of mind

Cybersecurity and data protection will continue to be major topics of focus in 2019. According to the Annual Law Firms' Survey 2018 by PWC UK, cybersecurity remained a concern for 82% of the top 100 firms. In the same survey, 60% of the firms reported having suffered a security incident in 2018 making cybersecurity a major concern for many law firms.

The amount of sensitive data law firms handle make them a prime target of cyberattacks. Poor data management can leave your firm vulnerable to threats including phishing/hacked emails, ransomware and data breaches, which bring along additional compliance risks.

With the heavy emphasis on the protection of personal data, GDPR compliance is obligatory and a data breach can carry heavy penalties.

Since the GDPR came into effect on 25th May 2018, DPAs have received more than 95000 complaints about suspected regulation violations and organisations have reported over 41000 data breach notifications, thus requiring law firms give high priority to compliance in 2019.

As a law firm, you must take measures to eliminate the possibility of a data breach by ensuring that your information including personal data is secure. It is crucial to have crisis management, incident response and business continuity plans developed and tested, should there be an unfortunate incident of a cyber attack or a data breach.

The cloud is inherently safe for data. The key is to get a cloud-based practice management software from a reputed legal technology vendor, with certified file storage, back up, recovery and secure sharing portals. This allows you to prevent unauthorised access to confidential data, reduce the risk of data loss, ensure business continuity in the event of a breach and meet your client’s data protection demands.

It is time to be client-focused

Needless to say, to remain competitive meeting clients demands is essential.

Clients expect law firms to be more efficient and deliver value with legal services. This means you need to offer high-quality services at reasonable prices so that your clients are satisfied. Interestingly, client portals are gaining momentum as law firms seek to have a competitive edge by differentiating legal services while improving communication and profits. Providing clients with secure 24/7 access up to date documents and case information quickly, without having to chase you on the phone or email, allow firms to provide better service and more value.

Implementing the right technology to do basic yet important tasks can substantially improve law firm efficiency. When you no longer have to worry about keeping track of your cases, billing and your due dates, this saves you time to focus on your client. Using a practice management software, you gain oversight over every aspect of your firm's performance thereby helping you to improve how you work and client experience.

More law firms shifting to agile working

The amount of legal work carried out in agile working environments is on the rise. Whether you are a solo lawyer, a virtual law firm or a law firm operating in a traditional office space, cloud solutions allow you to work from remote locations. This enhances mobility; hence, greater flexibility. Moreover, the cloud allows you to access and update information and tasks on a mobile device in real-time wherever you are. For an instance, you can work on a case or update a timesheet from your mobile or tablet while travelling and make sure you continue from the point where you left off, once you are back in the office.

The benefits of the cloud and mobile devices have also helped virtual law firms gain popularity. Some law firms no longer just delivering legal services online, but operate 100% virtually, practising law using cloud-based technology. The basic dynamic of virtual law firms is such that it can bring together two legal powerhouses in two continents to team up thereby eliminating borders for talent and knowledge. The virtual meeting also eliminates travel time and costs making virtual law firm even more desirable. These costs cuts enable virtual law firms to offer sophisticated legal services at lower prices.

Data-driven law firms becoming the norm

Whether you are working on a case or trying to develop a legal strategy, collecting and storing large amounts of data that continue to grow exponentially can be back-breaking, if you are not armed with the right tools.

Law firms need to analyse data and process information quickly. They need data analytics to convert collected sets of data into valuable insights to draw a conclusion. The complexity of this process has reduced substantially, thanks to AI and machine learning, creating a niche in the legal industry. The use of AI at law firms will expand to decision making too.

The key is to be data-driven, which means to make decisions based on relevant information rather than intuition or personal experience. There are many tech solutions in the marketplace addressing data challenges designed to empower data-driven lawyers to manage "big data" cost-effectively.

The 'future proof' law firm is now

Law firms must be ready to face uncertainties. This means your law firm must be future proof; capable of adapting to changes (i.e. regulatory and technological) in the legal industry.

Whether you want to implement an invoicing service to optimise your billing process or facilitate e-justice or e-court, your practice management software should enable integrations. This means that it should support your needs without you having to adopt various tools so that you can improve the workflow and profitability while ensuring you remain compliant over time. The technology you invest in must allow you to make incremental changes so that you don't get left behind.

Mitigating risks and exploiting opportunities in 2019 are inextricably tied to one thing; technology. Lawyers are still somewhat known to be techno sceptics and technology remains a significant challenge facing the legal profession. Technology both current and emerging bring in change that law firms need to embrace, rather than fear.

 With regard to legal technology, there are many software options in the marketplace you can choose from, based on your firm's needs and budget for legal spend. A practice management software empowers you to reach your full potential by bringing in efficiencies and cost cuts to your firm, enabling you to deliver value to clients and thrive in a competitive landscape. Most importantly, it saves you time for strategic legal work and enables you to remain profitable without compromising on your competitiveness.

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