As legal professionals position themselves to survive the peaks and troughs of an ailing economy, a number of distinct trends help how firms and organizations become more efficient, productive and competitive in a global market. Other trends result from changing demographic attitudes and work styles. Recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil procedure make Electronically Stored Information(ESI) such as e-mails, instant messages,voicemails,e-Calendars,graphics and data on handheld devices discoverable in litigation. The explosive growth of ESI has increased the cost and complexity of e-discovery processes and forever changed the face of large –scale complex litigation. Social networking has the potential to transform the business and practice of Law in the coming years. Legal professionals have a growing number of social media tools at their disposal to accomplish a variety of legal tasks and career objectives. Social networking is changing how legal professionals recruit, job hunt network, locate and discredit witnesses, manage their career and interact with clients. Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube are also key market tools, helping lawyers and legal professionals reach a broad audiences and accomplish branding, advertising and client development goals. Powerful mobile devices, software –as-a-service and secure, web based technology allow legal professionals to work from virtually anywhere.As a result, more legal professionals are working remotely from home or a virtual law office. Virtual law offices provide an alternative method of practicing law that permits flexible work hours and fosters a better work/ life balance for legal professionals. Virtual work is not just for lawyers, a growing number of legal professionals are working remotely. Working virtually allows legal professionals to serve their employers and clients while life balance and modifying their schedule to fit personal and family needs. Lawyers no longer have a monopoly on the law. The legal marketplace is changing and clients can seek legal assistance from a growing number of non-lawyer professionals including paralegal technicians, legal documents preparers, legal self-help sites, virtual assistance and offshore legal vendors. These new options enable bringing affordable legal services to disadvantaged populations and empower citizens to address their own legal matters. As the cost of legal services continue to rise, new legal delivery model will continue to emerge and gain momentum in the coming years.
Indian legal industry has always had the impact of the advancement of Information Technology and has been the practice of digitization. Many Law firms and legal departments have started embracing these technologies and are keeping themselves updated with these recent trends in technology. The impact of legal technology is quickly changing the practice of Law firms and legal departments as they become more conscious of the cost efficiencies being shaped by information technology. Recent development in legal information technology are also simplifying the developments of business processes, new strategies management structures, conducive and collaborative and delivery-oriented systems. The main reason behind the interrelationship between the legal service providers and their clients are due to clients expectations. New entrants in the market, productization, strong price competition and alternative fee structures innovative delivery approaches. Due to their Law firms and legal departments have started to re-stratize their practice operations and models. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been able to adopt the system of the legal industry and has been able to reduce the rote tasks. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence to legal technology has transformed the industry as well as digital applications like time-sheet, contract management, research, legal analytic etc. Legal technology is giving new possibilities to modernize the lawyers’ client relationship. Numerous portals and collaboration platforms are simplifying the system. Virtual presence and availability, providing faster turnaround time, transparency towards the matter status, research and audio or video facility documents showing along with refined security technology. With advancements in client interactions and communications, which were majorly meant to be personal meeting, calls and letters have now taken a shift towards Face time to text, video conferencing, and online dashboards with MIS etc.
Many law firms and legal departments have started showing major interest in cloud computing and started acquiring cloud based firm management software in areas such as document management, knowledge management, case management, client relationship management and human resource information system. Virtual computing tools are also assisting with the reduction in fixed costs and are allowing the lawyers to work remotely either from home ,courts, clients office etc. Effective case management applications are also on it. Being a service industry, it is vital and precarious for Law firms to track the profitability and productivity of the delivery. Factors like client generation, billed hours, billing receipts etc. have become crucial for practice. Legal technology has made it easy to create such reports and analyze the same. It has become computable to benchmark the groups by mapping their productivity and performance. The legal industry has travelled from manual discretionary performance assessment to automated human resource information system. In the recent years, many online platforms have come up which provides prospects to potential clients to connect with the lawyers for simple services ranging from trademark registration, leases, registration and execution of wills, contract and lease agreements, to dishonoring of cheques, recovering suits, consumers complaints etc. These online legal service providers connect lawyers and categorize them as per their practice areas, localities and schedules making it easy for the client to do the cost evaluation apropos sensitivity of the matter. The Indian legal industry is one of the oldest professions and it is observing a change with the recent trends in legal technology. From the perspective of the clients the legal services have become low-priced and more accessible, whereas from the perspective of the firms they have become more profitable and productive. By adopting these technological trends it is not only saving money and time but also becoming enabler in nurturing relationship and assisting the firms to achieve the next level of growth.
So legal professionals need to learn IT skills, Knowledge of AI, creation of business plan to embrace AI, keeping informed about new source of ESI, importance of cloud security measure for efficient practices.