Predicting the future is certainly difficult yet reading the metaphorical tea leaves is not. The legal industry will undoubtedly change in unforeseen ways as the year ahead takes shape. However, the emergence of new technologies and law office trends provides a sneak peek at how the year ahead might play out. Let’s take a quicklook at how the legal industry is likely to evolve as we transition through 2022.
The Burden of Labor Will Continue to Shift Away From Attorneys
Creating legal documents, interacting with clients and tailoring service accordingly is time-consuming work that is gradually shifting away from attorneys toward support staff and automated solutions. The improvement of technology is facilitating the transformation of legal work through the outsourcing of legal services, the delegation of work to paralegals and seemingly futuristic automated solutions.
It is possible that the shift of work from attorneys to support staff, operational experts, data specialists and automated solutions will empower legal practitioners to dedicate more of their time to actual legal analysis. It is also possible that the automation and outsourcing of work will reduce demand for attorneys as the year ahead takes shape.
The Rise of CLM
Contract lifecycle management, also referred to with the acronym of CLM, is now becoming central to contracts and legal agreements of all types. Centralizing contractual workin a unified system that encompasses client relations and sales is essential to maximizing the value of attorneys’ limited time.
The centralization of contract management from the initial negotiations through the contractual execution and also after the contract isterminated helps minimize costs, mitigate risk and add to the bottom line. As an example, regulatory alterations orlitigation that spur the need to update contracts has the potential to over burden a firm unless a centralized CLM system is in place.
An Ever-increasing Focus on Data
Big data is all the rage in the legal industry and society as a whole as we segue to the new year. Data analysis in the context of legal agreements and even practice area profitability will continue to fuel change in law firms of all types. Big data is now center stage in the context of risk minimization, cost reduction strategies and profit maximization.
The pool of data used by law firms will only continue to expand through 2022 and beyond. More importantly,the strategic insights obtained through the analysis of this expanding data empower attorneys to make informed decisions based on numbers and information as opposed to guesswork or a gut instinct.
A Focus on Digital Security
Cybersecurity is now at the forefront of nearly every attorney’s mind after a year in which ransomware dominated the headlines. It is becoming quite clear that ransomware specialists are willing to launch vicious online attacks that freeze law firm networks and computers, ultimately preventing data access until the ransom is paid in bitcoin. The cybersecurity solutions for ransomware prevention and other digital attacks provided by companies such as CommVault Systems and similar web security specialists will be implemented at law firms in the year ahead.
The Push for Digitization and Automation Will Grow EvenStronger
It wasn’t long ago when law firms were wholly reliant upon tangible pieces of paper. My, how time shave changed. Law firms of all sizes and types are now pivoting to digital files and the automation of processes to enhance firm-wide efficiency. The repetitive administrative work once performed by legal secretaries and paralegals is being automated at every opportunity. Look for more attorneys to embrace automation tools that liberate their staff to focus on client interactions including the onboarding process as the year ahead plays out.