The days that law firms were only competing with each other are long gone. Now, another form of competition is the one between lawyers and technology. With the gig economy on the rise, the Artificial Intelligence and machine learning on fast steady growth and the client-empowered era, lawyers have to up their game and adapt to the new reality to stay relevant and competitive.
Threats by the New Technological Advances that Disrupt Legal Services
The way the legal sector operates is expected to fundamentally change, affected by the latest advances in technology and today’s client demands. Digital platforms, software and apps will offer faster and more effective and secure processes and labour intensive tasks will be eliminated and replaced by virtual programmes. Also, clients are now more sophisticated and expect excellent digital experiences including mobile-first solutions, digital communication, control over their legal cases, speed and efficiency. It is clear that in order for law firms to satisfy their audience they need to keep pace in the fast-changing world of technology.
The use of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will play an active role in various areas of the legal profession. A report from Deloitte states that 100,000 jobs in the legal sector will be automated by 2036. They suggest that by 2020 law firms will have to change their talent strategy. The time has come for law firms to embrace AI and future-proof themselves by employing legal tech experts and develop internal AI tools.
Paul Smith and Sally Dyson support that AI and machine learning are beginning to automate repetitive tasks in various fields of the legal sector. For example, reading and summarising huge volumes of documents in the mergers and acquisitions field is now done by fast and accurate software. Virtual assistants can book meetings, perform administrative activities and chatbots can help automate customer service.
Threats by the Gig Economy
Digital disruption does not just change the legal profession but also the way lawyers work. The younger generation of legal professionals demands flexible, agile working and a result-based evaluation that does not have to do with office attendance. New entrants in the sector have already adopted a more open-minded work culture which results in increased productivity, economic growth and staff loyalty.
Hazlewoods, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers found that the number of lawyers in the UK working for digital law firms (platform firms) has risen by 29% in 2018. Meaning that the ‘gig economy’ - whereby professionals have the freedom to decide when and where to work - has an important influence on the legal sector. 'Platform lawyers’ use digital spaces to work remotely and market their practice as they desire. Their profits can grow significantly since they have low operational costs and they charge less than the traditional firms. On the other hand, law firms that refuse to change the way they work will experience significant difficulties in finding talent, increasing productivity and motivating their people.
Transforming Threats into Opportunities
The silver lining of the digital disruption and the gig economy is obvious. However, law firms are too busy trying to manage their work volume to notice it. The fact that repetitive and routine tasks are being automated and that some lawyers demand to work remotely can create numerous opportunities for law firms. The loss of billable hours generated by managing paperwork might scare some lawyers, but on the other hand, they will have more time to deal with much more important and interesting tasks.
Digital disruption does not threaten the legal industry, it challenges it. Clients still need lawyers, and they are demanding a much better experience tailored to their needs. A more client-centric strategy will help law firms advance their game, be more competitive and retain more clients instead of losing their existing ones to platform law firms and ALSPs. At most risk are the firms that refuse to adjust to the new reality. In other words, disrupt or be disrupted.
The Solution: Consultancy and Technology
At Calls9 we see technology through a lawyer's eyes and we know how to help you gain a competitive advantage and future-proof your firm.
Our approach combines industry-leading consultancy with powerful and personalised technology.
Our consultants draw on their decades of experience to guide you through a process that focuses on the following key areas:
- Delivering a consistent client experience
- Building a sustainable and profitable business
- Creating a compelling brand
- Developing a winning culture with purpose
- Motivating and empowering your people