APIs: The Cornerstone of LegalTech, Part 2
In part one of our series on how APIs are empowering a new generation of LegalTech solutions, we looked at some of the technology obstacles facing today’s legal organizations. We also covered the basic principles of how API integration works and how it can bridge the gap between legacy systems and new applications. In part two, we’ll be taking a closer look at some specific API integration use cases and explain why they’re an essential part of a successful firm’s LegalTech toolkit.
4 Benefits of APIs for Legal Teams
Before going into more detail about how LegalTech API integration works, it’s worth highlighting the broad benefits APIs can deliver to a law firm.
1. Streamlined Workflows
The average legal department relies on more than one software solution to meet their business needs. While larger firms that provide a broad range of legal services typically require more specialized platforms, even smaller legal teams deploy different software applications to address different business needs.
Thanks to API functionality, these diverse LegalTech solutions can be integrated into a single, platform-agnostic portal that eliminates the workflow disruption caused by constantly switching back and forth between programs.
2. Remote Functionality
API integrations also make it possible for lawyers to access an assortment of LegalTech tools from any location, even if they can’t physically be at their offices. This capability is more important than ever as the legal profession continues to grapple with the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Many lawyers are still working from home and communicating with their clients and colleagues remotely. In some states, virtual court proceedings might remain in use even after the pandemic. If law practices aren’t able to function effectively in a remote context, they will struggle to deliver quality legal services to their clients.
3. Competitive Advantage
Managing multiple technology resources and facilitating remote collaboration isn’t just about making work easier for legal teams. Streamlining workflows results in greater efficiency, which means lawyers can spend more time doing high-value work for their clients rather than sorting out technical issues or tracking down hard-to-find documents and files.
It also translates into reduced costs, since key administrative functions can be automated and carried out both faster and more accurately. Law firms that invest in technology integration can deliver better services to their clients at lower costs than their competition while still retaining the flexibility to adapt to future disruptions.
4. Enhanced Security
By its very nature, the legal industry ends up handling a great deal of sensitive information. Financial records, contracts, protected health data, and private correspondence are frequently relevant to legal proceedings of all kinds. There’s also the matter of attorney-client privilege, which greatly restricts what information can be shared outside the firm.
Without a way to securely manage files and documents, law firms leave themselves exposed to significant liability. Thanks to API integrations, attorneys can use their existing LegalTech solutions to access, share, and edit essential files safely and securely.
PrizmDoc Viewer: LegalTech API Integration in Practice
For a better understanding of how API integration can enhance the performance of LegalTech applications, it’s instructive to look at some specific examples. Accusoft’s PrizmDoc Viewer uses a powerful collection of REST APIs to provide HTML5 document viewing functionality through a single interface. It not only allows LegalTech developers to quickly and easily integrate document viewing capabilities into their applications, but it also delivers several additional features that are particularly relevant to the legal industry’s eDiscovery process.
The digitization of the discovery process has made it easier for legal organizations to share documents and back up important data. Unfortunately, it’s also created a huge glut of electronically stored information (ESI) in a variety of formats. In addition to the large number of commonly used file formats (such as DOCX, PDF, and JPEG), firms must also deal with a variety of proprietary file formats and case-specific formats (like DICOM for healthcare clients). PrizmDoc Viewer uses an array of APIs to convert more than 100 file formats for easy presentation within a browser-based HTML5 viewer. It can also convert image-based documents into searchable PDFs or editable text files with a built-in OCR engine. Thanks to this integration, attorneys can quickly share and view documents internally or with clients and the court without having to download and install specialized applications.
The ability to annotate and markup documents is essential for any collaborative legal process. Although many platforms make it easy to insert comments and edits into documents, these programs often don’t support more than a handful of file types and alter the original file when making annotations. PrizmDoc Viewer’s annotation functionality supports over 100 file types and allows multiple users to make layered edits that can be easily shown or hidden. More importantly, all markups exist on top of the original document, preserving the integrity of the original file to comply with state and federal preservation of data requirements. When the time comes to present documents, annotations can be burned into the file if necessary.
Sharing documents is always a sensitive process in the legal profession. Information may be protected by attorney-client privilege, disclosure agreements, contractual obligations, or government regulations. LegalTech applications need to be able to redact sensitive data when sharing documents with outside parties. PrizmDoc Viewer’s REST API allows users to manually redact individual sections, use search features to redact specific terms, or even programmatically redact data for pre-determined reasons (such as account numbers or Social Security numbers). Redacted content is not only hidden from view, but no longer shows up in search results and cannot be copied or highlighted.
As mentioned previously, security should be a key consideration for any LegalTech solution. Firms need to strictly control who has access to data and confidential documents, whether that consists of sensitive client information or internal litigation strategies. PrizmDoc Viewer provides a few key features to help LegalTech applications maintain high levels of security.
- DRM: Digital rights management (DRM) controls can manage who has access to documents and what functions they can use (such as printing, downloading, or viewing). This makes it easy to restrict how files are shared and track any document leaks back to their source to hold the responsible parties accountable.
- Watermarking: PrizmDoc Viewer can hard code identifying information into documents to prove ownership and prevent the unauthorized reproduction of documentation.
- Encryption: With so many people working remotely from potentially unsecured Internet connections, file encryption is absolutely essential for any LegalTech application. PrizmDoc Viewer uses 256-bit AES content encryption to ensure that documents remain secure throughout the collaboration process.
Transform Your LegalTech Strategy with API Integration
As we covered in part one, many legal organizations cling to outdated processes and technology due to familiarity and deeply-ingrained status quo bias. But familiar doesn’t always mean functional. Over reliance on manual processes exposes firms to increased human error and a range of potential data security risks, to say nothing of undercutting productivity. Advanced APIs offer a new tactical toolkit, a way to select best-fit code that solves specific issues and helps legal firms improve operational outcomes. Learn more about how Accusoft’s PrizmDoc Viewer can unlock the full potential of your LegalTech applications today.