Few years can be as defining, and dividing, for the legal tech sector as 2020. But as the industry begins to recalibrate for the coming year, thoughts now turn to where innovation and automation will be most needed within the industry.
Several key themes emerge already: greater emphasis on technology to assist home-working; greater collaboration between lawyers and technological specialists across the sector; and greater reliance on automation in specific areas, be it contract review, litigation analytics or cybersecurity.
Law.com International garnered the views of six experts in the U.K. legal tech space, including Ruth Ling, our Head of Innovation & Change.
In our own article, Ruth also outlines more of her predictions for LegalTech in 2021, what clients should focus on to get ahead, and gives her thoughts on where the sector is heading after last year's unprecedented disruption.
2020 has shown us that, more than ever, our people and our clients are our most precious assets. With everyone being spread remotely in separate locations organisations need to think creatively about how to engage with colleagues and clients. We can't rely on the traditional networking and face-to-face meetings which now seem like such a distant past, and the novelty of virtual meetings is starting to wear off for some. The exciting thing about technology is that there's new developments daily, and LegalTech is no different. If 2020 was the year that forced many to adapt to new technologies, 2021 will be the year for collaboration – in thinking, in working and in the solutions developed.
Legal technology and innovation teams have spent the past few years building an ever-expanding suite of technologies and design thinking techniques that support collaboration and creativity. They're used to empathising with the end user and tackling challenges in a human-centric way. So, who better to support this shift!
In 2021 we will see these teams continue to lead on using legal technology, but with a bigger focus on the design thinking techniques to enable true collaboration and connectivity with clients.
Clients are telling us that their needs will include the deployment of more innovative event and conferencing technologies, but we're anticipating a strategic review of content and advanced delivery techniques will add the greatest value to ensure that content is fresh and relevant in a virtual world.
Teams need to be well positioned to run design thinking workshops with their lawyers and, more importantly, their clients to really understand the challenges and quickly prototype solutions. We will see a rise in the combination and integration of existing legal technologies such as portals, document automation and expert systems to encourage and enable collaboration with clients, ensure accurate and timely updates and creating a level of 'self-service' advice. 2021 will see these capabilities being supplemented by technologies such as robotic process automation and predictive analysis tools.
Finally, it's important to stress that legal technology and innovation teams won't be doing this in isolation. Innovation needs to be open and inclusive, across all areas of the business. You need a network of champions and ambassadors, and it should never be underestimated how much value your people can add when involving them in the process. Training, as always, will be vital to getting the best engagement and outcomes, and inevitably we expect these to focus on design thinking, consultative questioning and emerging technologies.
By engaging with people and clients you can ensure that the culture and relationships of businesses are retained through the smart use of technology and that there will be a greater integration of human and technology assets to provide a seamless client experience.