It is utterly fascinating to ponder the overwhelming number of new technologies that have made their appearance, not just in the past 100 or 50 years, but even the last decade. Indeed, it would require a veritable tome to superficially list them.
What is even more amazing is the pace of change and how, in the distant past, our world hardly changed from one century to another.
A case in point would be how one lived after the fall of the Roman Empire all the way up to the 16th century. For all intents and purposes, the way in which the average person lived remained fairly constant. However, this cannot be said for just the last 20 years, let alone the last 50.
In just a few years, technology has impacted our personal lives to an almost unimaginable degree. The Internet alone is a prime example. 25 years ago, it was confined to universities and the military. By the new millennium, the Web was already ubiquitous, easily accessed in homes with (slow) dial-up, on desktop computers.
Nowadays, with an eye-popping 3.5 billion people online, with access made possible practically anywhere and anytime with smartphones, the ability to access the web is literally in everyone’s pocket.
Of course, our personal lives are not the only aspect of society that has been changed drastically by technology. It has transformed how we do business and helped us to accomplish tasks faster, more efficiently and for less money. We have experienced a sea-change in how business is conducted and the legal profession is no exception.
The advancement of technology has thoroughly revolutionized today’s legal sector. The automation of much that was once a painstakingly slow manual process has benefited not just lawyers, but paralegals, legal secretaries and a whole host of ancillary professionals.
In turn, they have become proficient at myriad word and spreadsheet processing programs, communications, the creation and updating of databases, and in research and presentation of cases via increasingly sophisticated legal software.
Legal technology has had a significant impact on every part of the legal field, from corporate practice to the typical legal firm and, with the management of seemingly unending documentation, work has been made far easier and faster.
How Legal Professionals Have Dealt with Technological Change
With change occurring at such lightning speed and with many slow-starters having kept a narrow focus on keeping their firms open during past economic downturns, technology continued to expand, changing the world in ways that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago.
Despite all these revolutionary changes, some in the legal profession stubbornly cling to the old ways of doing business; others have enthusiastically embraced change, by adopting new technologies.
For a notable example of how ubiquitous technology has affected the legal world, one need only read this intriguing example.
Over a relatively short period, how firms access case law, do research, handle the massive number of documents, dictate, invoice and communicate, has evolved significantly. Much of this was previously done manually, with huge amounts of paperwork and far more time needed.
Armies of lawyers conducting document reviews and working through innumerable paper files have disappeared. Much of this has been revolutionized via technology and is faster, cheaper and far more accurately.
There has been a leveling-of-the-playing field, with many of these technologies being more widespread and easily available for lawyers to exploit, especially for smaller firms with limited resources but talented legal staff.
Electronic case management has revolutionized how documents are processed and how firms can collect, store, and instantly access indefinite numbers of case files electronically, while exploiting databases to track, search, distribute, and save innumerable files.
Smartphones are one aspect of the revolution in law practice. The most obvious benefit is the ability to receive pertinent information at any time and any place. Being available, always, is a game-changer.
Legal Billing Technology
What is now known as “e-billing” (electronic billing) has pretty much replaced paper invoicing.
In addition to sending finalized invoices in PDF file format, the LEDES standard makes it possible to send your invoices as portable standardized files. The advantage of this system is that LEDES can be plugged into many ERP systems, where it can be analyzed, and/or kept for further reference.
LEDES e-billing standard is usually required by more sophisticated clients (e.g. corporate and enterprise clients) and is growing in importance daily. The main driver behind LEDES is that clients need a firm grasp on their legal budget expenditure.
Marketing your Legal Practice
For the purposes of marketing, technology has also become indispensable, as evidenced by legal firms’ websites and law blogs found across the Web. Content Marketing has exploded in popularity over the past two decades, however, it was only possible via new technology in e-publishing and search engine algorithms, to name a couple.
Additionally, email marketing – still a very effective way to promote your service to potential clients – has been enhanced by CRM and marketing automation systems.
Legal Project Management and Practice Management Systems
In addition to having the Internet in one’s pocket, and the ability to deeply research either from a mobile platform or from one’s desktop, there is the huge time and financial savings from managing one’s practice with specialized software that streamlines your workflow and billing creation.
This, in itself, has gone a long way to creating efficiencies that save both clients’ and law firms’ resources. Quickly and easily gathering client information, then sending out invoices, has made law practice management software one of the greatest boons to the legal practice.
Certain legal practices even go a step beyond law practice management systems. Namely, attorneys that are keen on transforming the way they deliver their legal services make sure to plan, organize, and execute their work as projects.
Legal Project Management systems are a fusion of technology and organizational best practice, and, as such, can help even those users unfamiliar with project management methods. LPM systems also act as useful frameworks for users who are just starting to practice project-based legal service delivery.
Get on Board
It almost goes without saying that familiarity with, and use of, technology should be a top priority for any law firm. Computer programs are now easily available and increasingly user-friendly, helping with all business functions, including the filing of patents and trademarks, tracking stocks, creating and running budgets, managing subsidiary data, utilizing organizational plans and monitoring myriad supporting professionals’ fees.
Having competence with technology will only grow in importance, as technology evolves further. This means having someone who is tech savvy on the roster, an individual who will help enormously in creating greater efficiencies and profits. A terrific example of legal management software can be found in LegalTrek, arguably the best law practice management software for client-oriented, small to mid-size law firms and legal departments.
Technological innovation is becoming an indispensable aspect to the success of any legal service provider. Understanding how to fully exploit technology results in huge efficiencies and time management gains for individual lawyers and enables firms to prosper and better compete.
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Scott Blumenshine‘s expertise is based on years of experience representing people in personal injury, under-insured and un-insured motorist claims, arguing the facts and law in court, writing on the subject and presenting materials at continuing education seminars.
Scott has been practicing law in Chicago for over 20 years and is currently a managing partner at the Blumenshine Law Group. You can learn more at https://www.blumenshinelawgroup.com.
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