Legal12 December, 2017

Law firm trends 2018: cyber-security, GDPR and more!

New digital trends and legal requirements emerge – sometimes by surprise - forcing law firms to change their way of working if they want to survive. Add to this increased client demands and pricing pressure and it becomes clear that firms need the help of technology to work better (not harder).

Here are top trends we predict will impact law firms in 2018 so that you can prepare with the right tools:

#1 - Cyber-attacks will continue to put pressure on firms' data protection

From the hack at DLA Piper in June 2017, which effectively brought operations to a standstill, to the leak at Mossack Fonseca, resulting in the Panama Papers, cyber-attacks against law firms have made headlines this year. As potentially lucrative target for cyber hackers looking to exploit data (like for insider information on mergers, patents, and other deals) or hold it ransom, law firms should take precautions and implement effective IT systems to prevent data breaches - but are they?

For most firms, cybersecurity is an afterthought, with more attention focused at activities like increasing profits and luring new clients. Despite the headlines, many firms believe that they are well protected, or that hacks and leaks only happen to big law firms, and so do not prioritise making operational investments. However, this “it won’t happen to me” mentality is misguided.

According to a 2017 cybersecurity report, about two-thirds of law firms have experienced a data breach. The same report also found that every firm assessed was targeted by hackers in the past year. Failure to mitigate cybersecurity risks can seriously jeopardises a law firm’s reputation, client relationships and financial well-being.

#2 - The race to be GDPR compliant

GDPR has been a hot topic this year, and as we count down to May 2018 law firms will need to ensure they are compliant.

Under the new GDPR, data controllers will have to go to considerably more effort in order to comply with the amended data protection requirements. It is no longer just about adhering to best practices for processing private data and preventing a data breaches. Legal regulations on individual rights, the requirement to keep records of data procedures and data breaches, and the need to implement the appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk represent entirely new challenges for law firms.

If you are not using a suitable technology to meet the increased data protection and security requirements of the GDPR, then this is not only the right time to think about it, but to implement it as quickly as possible. Not only can you work to avoid the severe fines and liability risks but, with the right technology, you can also work more efficiently and securely. What’s more, you will be able to outsource at least some of the liability risks in the area of data security and protection to external service providers.

For more tips on GDPR read this post: "7 ways law firms can prepare for GDPR"

#3 - Increased need to meet e-justice requirements

E-justice – the use of technology to improve access to justice – is a sign of the modernization of judicial systems. Across Europe various systems are being launched to create a modern e-justice policy, including but not limited to, electronic process of procedures, document filing, access to current status of cases in progress, archives and registries, as well as teleconference in judicial proceedings.

E-justice is quickly becoming an undisputable part of effective justice, even gaining legally enforceable status in some places. Going in 2018, law firms will need to find ways to ensure the technology they use supports them in meeting local requirements today and into the future.

#4 - Continued focus on driving efficiency

According to the 2017 Aderant Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey, the top two challenges facing law firms today are pricing pressure and operational efficiency. Most professional law firm staff – 90% – say their firms spend too much time on the pre-bill and invoicing process at least sometimes, while 74% of respondents say that automating manual tasks is the prime area of opportunity to improve law firm efficiency.

With the right technology, can make efficiency gains in time and billing, all while providing the best client service (at a price you both expect). Whether this means improving how you manage and bill time or finding ways to integrate your practice management software with accounting suites, law firms need to find innovative ways to do more with less.

Going forward

While preventing cyber-threats, compliance with data protection regulations, meeting e-justice requirements and driving efficiency will be the top of mind in 2018, technology is here to help. If you are looking for a practice management solution that will ensure your firm is fit for the future, it’s time to learn about Kleos - the cloud-based practice management software that makes life easier for lawyers!

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