Recently, a successful serial entrepreneur and investor said to me; “legal tech is hot”. I couldn’t agree more, there is a visible stream of investments and a lot of interest in the development of technology in the legal industry. Large law firms are investing in their own IT but also invest and even acquire start ups with innovative ideas. An interesting trend for software developers and creative minds with disruptive ideas.

When that acquittance told me; “legal tech is hot”, he was undoubtedly referring to the buzz around technology. IBM’s Watson and its application for legal ‘Ross’ is quickly mentioned. Clickbait and maybe even IBM themselves will tell us that algorithms will take over certain tasks from the lawyer and might even replace them in the even longer term. This remains to be seen since it hardly has any effect on current daily business of lawyers.

Legal Tech and Office 2010 – how lawyers catch up

Law firms have long been behind when it comes to improving their IT, it’s one of the rare industries where a lot of paper is still being used. There are too many, especially small, law firms who still use Office 2010 as a productivity platform. These firms will not be using any kind of disruptive technology like AI in the near future. However, they can easily benefit by upgrading their existing systems to newer platforms and additional tools.

Day to day business: the 5 IT pillars of a modern law firm

We can distinguish a couple major components in a law firm’s IT used on a daily basis:

  1. Document Creation
  2. Document Assembly
  3. Contact Management (CM)
  4. Matter Management (DMS)
  5. Practice Management (General Ledger)

Lawyers are knowledge workers. They have certain processes in business where they add value by adding knowledge, often in the form of content. Inelegantly put, from an IT perspective, we see every lawyer as a “content factory”, continuously crunching out documents. And in this process of creating documents and e-mails a lot of efficiency is to be gained. A case strongly supported by Casey Flaherty’s Legal Tech Assesment.

Much gain be gained from choosing the right software

Although there is much talk about the impact of disruptive technology like artificial intelligence, by far most lawyers are still working on improving their old methods.
A small office with three lawyers and four supporting staff members can easily spend a total of €30.000 a year in software and hosting. Quite a lot of money and leaves little room for other investments. However, there is good news.

First steps – Standardization

One of the pillars mentioned before is document creation and document assembly. This is where many knowledge workers spend their time and where much efficiency can still be gained. Microsoft’s Office 365 has proven to be a very worthy productivity platform and with a few additions it proves an excellent tool for your firm. In our next article we’ll dive deeper how you and your firm can benefit from Office 365 and enhance the platform with 365 applications.

Documentaal is a Dutch company specializing in getting the job done in Office 365. Reinoud Wouters is partner and discusses with Barry van Varik the promises of Legal Tech.