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September 6 2021

How has Covid changed the use of legal technology?

Industry Insights

James Bosson

James Bosson

Two masked office workers sit across the desk from each other

Each year, legal data collation company LexisNexis conduct a wide-ranging survey of how legal teams are adopting and using technology. Given that usage of legal tech is currently surging in huge ways, this year’s survey findings are particularly insightful.

Now, the findings of the LexisNexis survey aren’t actually released until October. However, we were afforded an exclusive early look at the results when Louisa van-Eeden Smit, Head of In-house Legal at LexisNexis, spoke at our September 2021 instalment of our Virtual Lunch events. A whole heap of the Crafty Counsel team were also in attendance, and helped contextualise a lot of the information Louisa put forwards.

Fortunately for you, we’re able to offer an early breakdown of the information presented during the event. There’s loads of valuable insights into the current and future state of legal technology, as well as info on how you can stay ahead of the game and make a big legal tech impact within your organisation:

Why is legal tech getting so popular?

It should come as absolutely no surprise that technology use within legal teams is absolutely skyrocketing. This is in no small part due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, where the long-standing practices of a (let’s be honest) sometimes overly traditional and archaic industry were challenged in a drastic way.

Recent research has demonstrated that the majority of legal teams simply do not have access to the technology they require to do their jobs. When the pandemic hit, and legal teams were suddenly forced into working from home, much needed change was catalysed. Teams were suddenly adopting legal tech to help address long-standing issues plaguing their workloads.

The research conducted by LexisNexis reflects this trend, and revealed that 82% of legal teams feel their adoption of legal tech will increase in the next 5 years. This has not escaped the attention of legal tech companies, who are redoubling their efforts to compete in the space. 55% of legal teams surveyed by LexisNexis have been approached by a tech organisation.

What technology and software are legal teams using in 2021?

The good and bad news is that there’s a huge range of software out there that legal teams are increasingly turning to. The legal world is right on the cusp of a technological explosion, and the sheer scale of law-based tech solutions out there is only going to increase exponentially from here. This, unfortunately, makes it hard to give a comprehensive breakdown of all the options out there in just this one blog post.

However, there are a lot of commonplace programmes out there that have been almost universally adopted. As mentioned before, the pandemic was a big catalyst for this, and there was a rapid uptake of basic communication software such as Zoom and MS Teams. Moreover, Covid facilitated a much-needed uptake in the use of a number of bigger file management tools like Google Workspace, MS Office 365, and MS SharePoint.

Many legal teams (especially in private practice) are also using billable hour and time-management software as standard. This includes software such as Clio, Bill4Time, PracticePanther, and TimeCamp, to name just a few of the bigger ones.

Anyone seeking a bigger and more exhaustive breakdown of the solutions out there should take a look at Crafty Counsel’s (A)LSP Circuit Board.

How can legal professionals make the best use of legal tech?

In the space of less than two years, the technological expectations of legal professionals have shifted. Now, all legal professionals are now widely expected to have at least a workable level of proficiency with the programmes we mentioned previously. In the post-Covid legal landscape, not knowing how to schedule a Zoom meeting, or send an editable link to a document on Google-Drive, is no longer acceptable.

If you are reading this and don’t know how to use any of this software - we would strongly advise getting yourself clued up on them. Google and YouTube are, as always, great resources for this. Then, you can use this base level of knowledge to inform your understanding of more specific and specialised technology used within your specific organisation.

The LexisNexis report shows that a majority of legal teams have a growing expectation of tech’s ability to glean key insights and support not just for the legal team, but the wider organisation as well. The use of tech will only grow from here on out. If you’re a junior legal professional, now is the time to hone some skills in anticipation of this. If you can use software (even just MS Excel) to extract, analyse, present, and act upon data, your value to legal teams will only increase as the use of legal tech becomes more and more commonplace.

Be the change maker! Figure out how technology could improve your efficiency, or the productivity of your team, and articulate this confidently to the relevant people. Not only will it support your team in working better, but it raises your personal profile as a valuable contributor to the success of the wider organisation.

Additional Resources:

  • Attend a Flex Legal Virtual Lunch - each Virtual Lunch touches on a fresh and interesting topic, meaning each one is different. Click this link to go to our eventbrite and register for upcoming events ahead of time!
  • Will lawyers be replaced by robots? – this write-up from another Virtual Lunch takes a more pressing look at the rise of technology and automation. Will robots phase humans out of the legal industry?
  • Lexis Create – this new tool from LexisNexis lets you build, check, and complete documents and contracts without even needing to leave MS Word. Work smarter, and supercharge your working life.