2020 has been an unprecedented year for the World and in particular for the world of work. We have all been using the expression “The New Normal” so much that it has already lapsed into cliche.
The business world is still being rocked by the pandemic so much that it is impossible to forecast what “The New Normal” is going to be. However, there are some obvious trends:
Cloud-based technologies have gone from being treated with suspicion by many businesses to a must-have because they enable home working. More strategically, they increase an organisation’s resilience, scalability (up and down) and provide access to fantastic technology.
Business costs are under heavy scrutiny. As the crisis is dragging out from months to years, the impact on clients businesses is becoming more significant and is driving more fundamental shifts in business practice.
There is nothing like a crisis to drive change! In the words of the World Economic Forum (Future of Jobs, Oct 2020), ‘Automation, in conjunction with COVID-19, is creating a double disruption’. Cloud-based technologies are increasingly being used by companies to automate routine work and to support humans in more challenging work that machines alone cannot do. The motivation for this is to cut costs.
For law firms and corporate legal teams, these trends offer both a risk and an opportunity.
The risk is that lawyers retreat to what they know in the face of cost pressure, hide behind the billable hour and refuse to change. Law is a culturally conservative industry, and this will be the chosen course for many firms. Eventually, they will find their billing eroded as clients refuse to pay for work they know can be automated. Or lose business to competitors that do or clients bringing more work in-house. This trend has been forecast for some years now, but the events of 2020 will drive it to reality in 2021.
The opportunity for firms is that Cloud-based legaltech, like my business autto.io, has never been available at a lower cost or easier to adopt than it is today. Firms and in-house legal departments can develop solutions that create more value for their clients’, crafting services delivered using a combination of human and machine. This approach offers the potential to increase loyalty from existing clients, gain new clients and even to serve new markets.
Critically the initial entry costs to legal tech are low often with free trials to get started. There is a clear opportunity for law firms to engage, experiment and innovate to find what works for them. Now is the time to digitise.