The Role of Technology in Running a Successful Law Firm

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The emergence of legal artificial intelligence tools receives the most headlines, but such tools are only a portion of the legal technology solutions available to law firms. Legal tech helps firms improve efficiency, manage and recruit clients, and automate mundane, repetitive tasks. From legal accounting software to case management systems, legal technology provides the solutions law firms need for success.

Adopting new legal technology does come with challenges. Not all law firms require the same solutions. Cost is a factor, and secure data protection is essential to protect you and your clients. Choosing and implementing legal tech requires careful consideration, but the firms who do so put themselves at a great advantage over their less tech-savvy competition.

What is legal technology?

Legal technology refers to any software that automates manual legal tasks so the firm can operate more efficiently. Legal tech is not a replacement for your firm’s established processes, nor is AI poised to replace lawyers despite what a near-continuous barrage of clickbait headlines might suggest.

Why use legal technology?

Legal technology offers multiple benefits and makes it possible for small firms to compete with larger traditional firms that continue to perform time-consuming tasks manually. Depending on the nature of your firm, you might use legal tech for any of the following reasons:

  • Automate accounting processes
  • Automate client intake and documentation
  • Collaborate with partners remotely
  • Enhance legal research processes
  • Improve your firm’s defenses against cyberattacks
  • Improve the client experience
  • Improve transparency for clients
  • Reduce the risk of human error
  • Streamline workflows
  • View important documentation on electronic devices


Types of legal technology

Legal technology fulfills many different purposes, with breakthroughs making their way to market every year. The rise of legal tech solutions even introduced a new player in the legal field: Alternative Legal Service Providers, or ALSPs. While not currently a threat to traditional law firms, ALSPs prove the potential legal AI and documentation software has to radically transform the practice of law.

Common ways to technologically augment your law firm include the following software solutions:

Case management software

Case management software streamlines your ability to access, track, and store client information. The software controls who can access data, improving information security while securely sharing data with clients and members of your legal team. Cloud-based case management systems make data available on electronic devices, facilitating easy remote access.

Dictation tools

Why type when you can talk? Dictation tools allow you to record thoughts and ideas on the fly for later perusal. Choose one with a transcription option to convert your thoughts to text quickly.

Document management software

The amount of documents that pass over a lawyer’s desk in a single day is staggering. Reading, analyzing, and referring back to printed documents is a slow and sometimes frustrating process. Document management software stores all needed documentation virtually, allowing for easy searching, annotating, and sorting. Document management software also automates much of the document creation process, supports easy scanning, and allows remote file access.

Legal accounting software

Accounting software for law firms needs to include highly specialized functions. Your accounting software must process payments, pay staff, report and pay taxes, and generate financial reports. Small business accounting software can fulfill all these functions and may be all a small, one-person firm requires, but legal firms also need to bill and track finances in accordance with ABA compliance as well as local, state, and federal regulatory laws. Working with specialized legal accounting software makes compliance with such regulations much easier.

Legal Research Tools

Physical law books look great on a bookcase, but retrieving information from them takes time. Legal research tools allow you to quickly search cases, statutes, court rules, and more through an online database. Many research tools track your case research time for billable hours.

Online payment solutions

Not all legal technology focuses on artificial intelligence or complex legal processes. Adding an online payment solution to your firm gives customers a convenient way to make secure payments. Choose an online payment system that integrates with your accounting software.

Password management systems

An important part of your law firm’s security, a password management system generates complex, secure passwords and remembers them for you. Password managers are invaluable if your firm requires multiple lengthy passwords for different systems.

PDF converters

PDF converters allow you to create legal documents which can’t be edited without your permission. PDF converting tools often include templates to simplify document creation and formatting.

What type of legal technology is right for your firm?

The legal technology you need depends on your firm’s processes and pain points. Consider your processes carefully, and identify areas where legal technology will do the most good. For some firms, that may mean adopting new legal accounting software and virtual research tools. For others, a move to a paperless document management system may be more appropriate.

Think about compatibility when choosing new legal technology. You want tech systems that can interact and communicate with each other and support the processes your firm already uses. All tech solutions should be vetted for security, so ask vendors about security options such as data encryption and third-party verification. If software stores data in the cloud, ask what steps the vendor takes to safeguard data and ensure your information is always backed up.

Legal tech is powerful and helps your firm operate more productively while safeguarding sensitive client information. Tech cannot provide the human element that attracts clients to law firms, but it frees up your time for those important, person-to-person interactions which define the relationship between lawyer and client.

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