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Legal Technology Essentials to Respond to Client Needs

Legal technology in the law office must be adapted to meet client needs and differentiate from competing legal services. The article I chose asserts some of the most successful attorneys have embraced technology at an early stage. It focuses on critical legal technologies that should be implemented in any new firm start-up or existing business. As noted in many legal technologies articles I have read, technology is often seen as the ‘enemy’ of lawyers, but it does not have to be. Early adoption and collaboration between law and information technology is key in order to avoid falling behind the competition. However, as the article notes, the impetus for legal technology stems beyond keeping up with the competition, but is also heavily reliant on clients becoming more tech savvy.

Since technology is implemented into most individuals daily lives, it is almost natural to assume technology-friendly clients want technology-friendly lawyers. Continuing legal work with outdated technology that clients disapprove of or are altogether unfamiliar with alienates clients, making it more difficult for the law firm to foster a productive, professional relationship and satisfied clientele. One of the essential elements of fostering a productive, professional relationship is fluent communication to inquire, react, and respond to client needs. Various computer platforms allow for safe storage of client information and electronic communication. Considering the digital age is representative of current society, electronic communication and computer access of information for clients provides them with a more familiar method of communication which likely will increase firms efficiency concerning communication responses.

As the article notes, the internet search engines are providing more means for potential clientele to obtain legal information without consulting a law firm. The challenge for law firms is to integrate the technology clients are already going to and market their specialized knowledge in order to differentiate from purely electronic information. Platforms such as Clio provide law firms with the unity between technology and human communication. Since clients prioritize ease of communication and safe storage of their case information, Clio is an example of an avenue that can meet those needs. Even if firms do not use Clio, some form of interactive client portals are a must-have to differentiate your firm from the static website that any individual could access for legal information.

In addition to interactive client portals, firms must offer ways for clients to access information at any time, ask them a question no matter the location, and check the status of their case. Similarly law firms can manage these needs by integrating conference software, a document drafting system, and a comprehensive practice management system in their office. Conference software has expanded beyond the traditional phone call or email. Videoconferencing enables firms to respond to clients no matter the location, increasing efficiency for lawyers and allowing clients a familiar way to interact with their attorney. A document drafting system is a time-saving technology that allows lawyers to utilize cloud-based technology where frequently used legal document templates can be saved in one convenient location. This software can be a significant time-saving technology so that lawyers can distribute frequently used documents to clients without having to re-type all the information again in a separate document. In order to provide a more standardized way of doing work in the law office, a comprehensive practice management system can be implemented in a law office as a whole. This could meet the interests of lawyers looking for a more structured way of work, but also integrate technology considerations into everyday practice. At this stage of the technology age, firms should no longer ask the question should they integrate technology into client communications, but rather what types of legal technology should be utilized and how frequently they should be updated in order to adapt to the changing needs of clients.

-Kristen Schulz

The Must-Have Legal Technology To Start a Law Firm in 2016