Legal Tech Trends!
Fusion IT has a firm foothold in providing IT Solutions and Services to the Legal Sector and so we like to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to Legal Tech Trends.
Following on from our post last year, please read on for predictions as to what technological developments are likely to be in store for Law Firms in 2024 based on research I have conducted from multiple sources.
Data will play a pivotal role
The future of legal technology lies in leveraging data, both structured and unstructured, to revolutionise the legal industry. Traditionally, value has been extracted from structured data found in databases, often expensive and challenging to maintain. However, the real game-changer is tapping into the vast realm of unstructured data, estimated to constitute 80% of enterprise data.
Unstructured data includes files like contracts and documents saved in Document Management Systems (DMS). Imagine the potential if law firms could derive insights from this wealth of information. For instance, automating responses to client Requests for Proposals by combining external data on past win rates with internal data from timekeeping systems. This could revolutionise the efficiency of client interactions.
Taking it a step further, the combination of unstructured internal data, such as litigation narratives, with structured external data, like Litigation Analytics, opens unprecedented possibilities. Overlaying a firm’s work with court calendars and case outcomes, coupled with internal predictive analytics, could provide invaluable insights for clients, surpassing what was once thought possible.
In a nutshell, the convergence of structured and unstructured data, coupled with advanced technologies, will propel the legal industry into an era of unprecedented insights and efficiency.
AI will be embraced
AI, especially chatbots, offers a range of benefits in the legal field, most notably increased efficiency. Mundane and laborious tasks like document review and legal research can be completed with remarkable accuracy in a fraction of the time it takes human attorneys. This not only reduces costs but will allow lawyers to focus on higher-value tasks like strategy and advocacy. The result is quicker, more affordable legal services, expanding access to representation.
Despite fears of a reduction in legal jobs due to AI, it is suggested AI should be seen as a complement, not a replacement, for human legal professionals. AI serves as a valuable assistant, freeing up lawyers to concentrate on intricate and strategic aspects of their work. The true value lawyers provide lies in framing issues, deep analysis, risk articulation, strategic advice, and guidance, distinctly human interactions that can be enhanced, not replaced, by AI.
Nevertheless, while algorithm-powered chatbots cannot replicate the unique services provided by a lawyer, they can significantly improve speed and cost efficiency, for example, using AI for a first draft, appreciating the assistance and viewing it as a valuable tool to produce higher-quality legal services responsibly.
AI and four specific technology priorities for large law firms in 2024
While 2023 witnessed a surge in generative AI excitement, the coming year is predicted to bring a more subtle approach. Instead of perceiving generative AI as a magic solution, law firms are expected to view it as a tool within their tech arsenal, requiring careful scoping, commercial assessment, and prioritised user adoption for specific use cases.
The prevailing trend in 2024 is anticipated to be the adoption of large language models (LLMs) as add-ons within existing tech stacks or through platforms like Microsoft Copilot.
The top four technology priorities for large law firms in 2024 are anticipated to be:
Despite existing for decades, document automation faces challenges in driving adoption and scaling processes. The appreciation gained from exploring generative AI’s limitations is expected to boost interest in document automation, with firms reassessing their current strategies.
Firms seek to enhance client experiences by customising portals for client requests, collaboration, and work progress visualization. The trend is towards enabling clients to self-serve and access additional legal services within the firm’s client portal.
Word Drafting Assistants
Given lawyers’ heavy reliance on Word, plugins aiding various aspects of the drafting process, such as formatting, proofreading, and clause-level drafting, are expected to gain popularity.
Microsoft 365 Suite & Copilot
Greater utilisation of the Microsoft suite, including Power Automate, Sharepoint, and Azure AI services, is predicted. Firms investing in Copilot licenses are likely to be incentivised keeping data within the Microsoft ecosystem, leveraging its products, and seamlessly embedding them in legal practitioners’ workflows.
A need to focus on the fundamentals
While AI is transforming the legal tech landscape, firms will realise they need to focus on identifying specific problems rather than being enticed by shiny new tech solutions. Law firms need to be cognisant of avoiding an over-stuffed tech stack with solutions that don’t serve a purpose.
While AI is acknowledged as a crucial component, a cautious approach needs to be taken, recognising that finding the best ways to harness AI capabilities will require time, resources, and experimentation. Law firms are expected to explore existing tech suppliers with AI expertise rather than rushing to build in-house models, considering third-party providers for specific problems. The legal tech stack, despite the AI ‘disruption’, should focus on what best serves the human users.
Five Key Trends
Training for New LLM Models
An essential focus for 2024 will be dedicated to training Users to comprehend the capabilities and limitations of emerging Large Language Models (LLMs). As these models become integral to legal tech, understanding their nuances will be crucial for effective utilisation.
Continued Momentum in Legal Tech and Innovation
The momentum in legal tech and innovation is set to persist, extending beyond AI. Anticipate a continuous push in various areas such as document automation, alongside improvements and innovations in critical workflows like document review, contract lifecycle management, and know-how management.
Evolution of Data’s Role
A significant shift is expected in the role of data for clients and within law firms. Trends and initiatives will emerge to clean up Document Management Systems (DMS) and prepare relevant data for AI use cases and workflows, reflecting a growing awareness of the pivotal role data plays in legal processes.
Trend Towards Leveraging Existing Solutions
A potential trend in 2024 is the increased reliance on existing solutions and capabilities, with a spotlight on platforms like Microsoft Azure and Power Apps/Automate. Legal tech and digitalisation teams will face the exciting challenge of balancing multiple streams, from staying updated on meaningful AI developments to focusing on existing products gaining new features.
Shift in Legal Services with Technology at the Helm
A transformative shift is anticipated in legal services, where technology will play a more significant role in addressing legal issues involving higher volumes of structured data. Law firms are set to enhance their capabilities in advising clients on legal tech and implementation projects. AI will undoubtedly lead the way, with an increasing number of clients seeking insights and support for various legal tech and digitalisation initiatives.
Expanding the quality and specialism of legal work
Specialist legal services providers will realise a potential to expand. Specialist players in the market often enjoy a distinctive niche status which influences market dynamics and pricing. However, this advantage is typically linked to specific individuals within the organisation, lacking widespread integration across the entire workforce. Recognising this challenge requires a legal professional’s insight.
To mitigate the risk of low sustainability and limited scalability, adopting AI-powered legal tech will become a viable solution. This approach allows for the leveraging and augmentation of specific individuals’ capabilities throughout the broader organisation, ensuring a more comprehensive and impactful market presence.
So, there you have it. Just some of the tech trends predicted for the Legal Sector in 2024!