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What Technology Surveys Can Tell You About Recent LegalTech Trends

Technology trends are moving quickly in the legal industry as firms scramble to adapt to a shifting business landscape. Although many firms and organizations were already taking steps to break away from old fashioned processes and embrace the potential of LegalTech solutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated change initiatives and forced legal professionals to reassess their foundational business models. To get a better sense of the technology impact on law firms, developers would be wise to review recent tech surveys of the industry that assess how LegalTech software is being utilized.

LegalTech Technology Survey: A Closer Look 

According to a 2020 technology survey conducted by Bloomberg Law, legal firms are seeing tremendous benefits from the implementation of LegalTech tools. Four out of five firms and 73 percent of corporate legal departments have seen an increase in work volume, with both reporting that technology has also improved the quality of their work. On balance, high-value tasks are getting more attention, with 56 percent of respondents indicating that they spend at least somewhat more time on higher-level tasks. Low-value task loads have been reduced by an even larger rate, with 73% of respondents spending at least somewhat less time on less skilled, lower-level tasks.

Critically, these improvements seem to have come without also introducing a new set of challenges. One of the frequently cited concerns about implementing new LegalTech solutions is that it will create workflow disruptions or cause other difficulties with legal processes. In reality, such critiques appear to be largely unwarranted. Bloomberg Law’s 2020 tech survey found that large majorities of respondents did not believe LegalTech added to the number (78 percent) or difficulty (86 percent) of workflow impediments.

LegalTech Automation Needs

Despite the positive technology impact on firms, there are still many tasks being done manually that could be automated with software tools. In 2020, Accusoft conducted a technology survey of legal professionals about how they’re managing productivity and utilizing LegalTech applications. We discovered that while 54 percent of respondents were utilizing digital solutions to view and collaborate on documents, automation tools had yet to eradicate time-consuming manual tasks.

Given the enduring prevalence of manual processes, it’s hardly a surprise that 52 percent of respondents had difficulty locating the right document assets when they needed them. That figure, in particular, is unfortunate considering that a 2020 Clio report on legal trends found that 69 percent of consumers would prefer to work with legal firms capable of sharing documents electronically. 

The Technology Impact on Law Firms in Business Terms

Failing to implement effective LegalTech tools, then, could very well be costing many firms business. Longstanding legal business models that focus on profit per partner (PEP) metrics and emphasize short-term priorities are already giving way to technology-driven models that deliver faster, more efficient services at more competitive price points for customers. While boutique “big law” firms may continue to resist automation trends due to the specialized and strategic nature of their business, smaller firms and legal departments will need to reorient their operations to deliver the routine, day-to-day services that most customers are seeking. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many legal organizations more open to adopting technology solutions. Bloomberg Law’s report found that prior to 2020, only 40 percent of legal leaders described themselves as being “very open” to implementing new tech. Following the pandemic, that number has increased to 54 percent, perhaps acknowledging a new reality for the legal industry as existing business models are reconsidered.

Building the Future of LegalTech

LegalTech developers face several challenges as they work on designing the next generation of technology solutions for the industry. The first question almost always comes down to whether it makes sense to build application features from scratch or to buy and integrate proven solutions. Many legal organizations are looking for powerful software tools that incorporate the latest in process automation technology, which often demands substantial development resources to build and implement. For many software developers, it can be difficult to get products to market quickly without cutting some corners here and there in terms of features when they have to build everything from the ground up.

By incorporating ready-made functionality in the form of specialized integrations, developers can dedicate more of their resources to the innovative technology that powers their LegalTech solution. From HTML5 viewing that makes it easy to markup and redact files to document assembly tools that support contract automation, software integrations can rapidly expand the capabilities of an application to make it more attractive to legal organizations.

Accusoft’s PrizmDoc Viewer allows developers to integrate versatile viewing and conversion functionality into their LegalTech solutions. It also features powerful annotation and redaction tools that can significantly streamline the eDiscovery process. For applications that need the ability to programmatically assemble contracts, PrizmDoc Editor’s versatile APIs work closely with automation tools to cut down on costly manual errors and manage rising workloads efficiently. Learn more about these and other solutions in our LegalTech Fact Sheet.