A Brief Overview of the Evolution of the Legal Technology Sector

Peeyush Singh May 26, 2022
evolution of legal technology sector

Imagine you are in court, fighting a controversial legal case that could be a landmark in the history of law. You turn towards the counsel table to show substantial documentary evidence when you suddenly realize that you left it at your desk, back at the office.

What would you do?

If I had asked this question back in the 1950s, you would have replied that you would try to send someone to bring the documents immediately and meanwhile try to capture everyone’s attention, or ask for another hearing from the judge.

However, these days, you can rectify the mistake by accessing the same document on the cloud via your mobile phone- all thanks to the unstoppable growth of use of technology in the legal sector. Or better say, the evolving legal tech market.

Legal Tech can be defined as the segment of the legal industry that operates with the integration of cutting-edge technologies, which has wholly transformed the way attorneys and law professionals work. It has brought forth better opportunities for digital transformation of legal services and meet the expectations of tech-savvy clients. And interestingly, this has not remained confined to the top legal organizations; small legal teams and startups have also recognized the opportunity and invested in the same.

[Know in detail here: Why Do Small Legal Teams Need Legal Operations Software? ]

A ripple effect of this is that today 

  1. The digital legal services market constitutes 2.6% of the total legal service market share. This will be worth USD 1,011 billion by the following year.
  2. More than 700 law firm technology startups have entered the market, though belonging to different domains, i,e, eDiscovery, online legal services, lawyer search, legal research, AI legal tech software, and practice management software.
  3. As per 2019 Global Legal Department Benchmarking Report, the adoption of technology for law firms in different legal areas has also increased significantly.

percentage legal departments using tech solutions

  1. By the end of 2022, more than 80% of law organisations are expected to adopt the following technologies- Smart Contract, Predictive Analytics and Decision Support Tools and along with that $3.2 billion was the valuation of the AI legal technology market in 2018 which is expected to rise with a CAGR of 36% by 2026.
  2. Cloud adoption in the legal industry increases by 20% annually, indicating that lawyers are understanding the essence of replacing paper-based documents with a completely digital law firm.

Such numbers have swayed law professionals across the globe and made them interested in investing in legal transformation through software development, getting on board with technologically-catalyzed legal industry trends, and paving the way for digital transformation in the legal industry.

While this seems a perfect roadmap to enter the legal tech market and get on the top, it is not actually the case.

To ensure that you leverage higher possibilities and benefits, it is important to understand the legal transformations that have been brought by legal tech. Meaning, getting acquainted with the evolution of the legal tech market in the past few years and the set of digital legal services that have come up as a consequence.

So, taking the same thought into consideration, let’s take a look back at the history of the digital legal market, before heading to the future of the legal industry.

How Technology is changing the Legal Profession

What started back in the 1960s with the introduction of networked computers and the Internet with J.C.R Lickilder’s work on ARPANET, the legal technology industry has come a long way towards digital transformation with the advent of advanced software solutions and other related innovations. It has introduced various automated and highly-efficient tools and platforms in different areas such as –

1.  Legal Research

Traditionally, the process of legal research was time-consuming, error-prone, and tiresome, which made it difficult for law organizations to deal with complex issues, meet the needs of their clients, and make quick decisions. However, with the advent of law firm technology research tools and platforms like Casemaker, FindLaw and Casetext, this has become much easier.

2.  Predictive Coding and eDiscovery

Also called technology-assisted review (TAR), Predictive coding technology is employed to determine responsive electronically stored information (ESI) documents. The AI-powered predictive coding and eDiscovery tools will continue to learn and make better decisions for a digital law firm, while saving time and money.

3.  Digital Billing

From calculating taxes, managing heaps of data, getting customized billing, and accessing data from the cloud, digital billing solutions are helping legal organizations with various administrative and secretarial processes within the system.

ebilling software development

4.  Legal Document Management

Legal document creation and management software like Clio, Smokeball and MyCase have come forth to assist law professionals with creating, accessing, and managing documents and making the right business decisions.

5.  Contract Verification and Management

These digital legal and technology solutions come loaded with AI and Blockchain and assist legal organizations in verifying and managing digital contracts quickly, efficiently, and without error.

[Also Read: Why Do Small Legal Teams Need Legal Operations Software?]

Let us take a glimpse of how much the law industry has changed so far, in the form of a timeline as shown by the image below.

how much the law industry has changed

Details from 2020 to 2026

2020-2022: By the end of 2022, more than 80% of law organisations are expected to adopt the following technologies- Smart Contract, Predictive Analytics and Decision Support Tools.

2023-2026: $3.2 billion was the valuation of the AI legal technology market in 2018, which is expected to rise with a CAGR of 36% by 2026.

With this covered, let’s take a look at the future of the legal tech domain and the advanced technology solutions that form the latest legal industry trends.

Technology Trends that will continue dominating Legal Transformation

legal technolgy trends

1.  Client collaboration is  the centerpiece of the legal economy

The foremost trend that will continue to reform the legal landscape is the enhanced focus on client collaboration.

Law firm technology will enable professionals to connect with clients better and create a radical synergy between all the stakeholders involved for better transparency, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and best legal decisions.

2.  Predictive Legal Analytics will be on the rise

Switching from analytics to predictive analytics will also be one of the key trends in the legal domain. This technology for law firms will result in developing innovative solutions that offer higher strategic planning and other data-driven information. Both new-age legal tech startups and incumbent law firms will capitalize on this to introduce predictive analytics in their mobile applications and other services.

introduce technology in legal business

3.  Growth in Virtual Assistance and Automation

Another trend that will continue to prevail in the law industry is the hike in the usage of virtual assistants and automation tools.

Both solo practitioners and small legal clinics would depend on these software and platforms to manage multiple tasks efficiently and effortlessly, including intaking and scheduling  meetings.

4.  Advent of new legal solutions using AI and Blockchain

Many innovative solutions utilizing the power of AI and Blockchain in the legal industry will come up in the next few years and dominate the market.

These legal tech solutions will help law professionals in finding better opportunities, projecting new strategies, and finding effective ways to run their business in the highly competitive and client-driven market.

5.  Rise in Legal tech investment, products and services

With the growing awareness of the outcomes of introducing mobile apps and technology in the legal field, there will be a rise in the number of acquisitions, mergers, and fundings. Not only investors, but established law organizations will also collaborate with new startups to carve a better position in the market.

This will further boost the number of legal technology consultants who will be specialized in aiding law organizations with the integration of high-tech products into their existing model.

6.  Change in Hiring process

Lastly, a major disruption will be experienced in the hiring process this year and beyond. The legal tech startups and establishments will look forward to hiring now-lawyers to bring a direct difference in their business. This includes those who have an expertise in sales, C-suit administration, and process management.

The lawyers will keep a focus on high-level, substantive tasks while the non-lawyers will participate in improving the environment and introducing new ways of increasing business efficiency.

So now as you know what all the revolutionary changes the law industry has seen with the emergence of legal technology, and what is the probable future of the market, it is the right time to look into ways to step into the market successfully.

What are the challenges facing the legal industry?

While the aforementioned information will help you  understand the present and future state of the market, there are two more essential ingredients to make a successful digital law firm. So, let us wrap up this article focusing on the following:

1.  Identifying and Implementing Technical Opportunities

To get the best out of legal software development, it is important to know why you need it. It is necessary to have a clear understanding of what challenges you are facing with the traditional business processes, what opportunities you are missing out, and how the legal technologies can accelerate your growth and address your pain points.

This is something that can be figured out by discussing your business model with your team, doing an extensive market and competitor analysis, and pondering on the vision and mission of your law organization.

2.  Hiring the Right Legal Software Development Company

Though a wide range of technology solutions providers have shown the potential to create amazing software for legal firms, not all are the best option to go with. This is because every legal project requires a different skillset and experience. 

When finding an answer to how to hire legal technology solutions providers, it is a must to consider their experience, team size, location, portfolio, tech stack, and other such factors. It is always favorable to stick to an experienced digital transformation solutions company that can understand the above factors and make the best call.

Have any further questions? Feel free to contact our legal firm technology consultants.

Peeyush Singh
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