If we could look in a crystal ball, we could tell you exactly what the law firms of the future look like. Now, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have an eye on how the world of work and communication is changing. These factors culminate in creating a pretty clear understanding of what law firms of the future will look like.
The good news for you, is that the law firm is not dead. The even better news is that the legal profession will continue to thrive – with a few adjustments. Every role within the legal profession is impacted by the advances we have in technology, communication, security, and intelligence. From large conservative legal firms to Pittsburgh court reporting companies to legal education to clients themselves – every aspect of the law firm and legal industry is undergoing huge change.
From our perspective, this change is a good thing. Any industry or profession that remains static and doesn’t learn how to evolve with the times, quickly finds itself left behind and irrelevant.
We’ve put together what we think are the key influencers of future law firms. We’re excited to see what happens next in the legal industry – what about you?
The Influence of Technology
There is no getting around it, technology is having a massive influence on the how, what, when, why, and where of law firms. From how lawyers communicate with the clients to how important documents are shared and stored to how and where lawyers work – technology is changing every aspect of the traditional law firm.
- Client introductions and meetings can now be completely virtual thanks to tools such as Slack, Google Docs, Skype, and FaceTime.
- Document storage, portability, and sharing is revolutionized with cloud storage.
- Research can be done online with the power of electronic data and eDiscovery.
- Blockchain is having a huge influence on security and automation.
- Law students and lawyers can work and learn remotely. This opens many opportunities for lawyers and students to advance their skillsets and to better assist underserved populations.
While some bristle at the influence of technology in the law firm, the times are changing and as is happening in every industry, the influence of technology is one of the top trends shaping the legal industry.
The Educated and Empowered Client
Clients are becoming more savvy and knowledgeable about the law as a whole. Thanks to the power of the Internet, clients are able to easily access many of the legal resources previously only available to law firms.
This easy access to legal knowledge has empowered some clients to do their own research, to develop their own understanding of the legal system, and to have very strong views on how their legal matters should be handled.
The Internet has also changed how clients find legal representation, forcing law firms to rethink how they market themselves. It’s no longer enough to be the oldest or biggest law firm in the community. Now, clients are looking for law firms that specialize in their specific need or have flexible hours or offer more competitive pricing or are willing and able to go above-and-beyond that of any other law firm.
This means that law firms must decide who they want to serve and why. It’s not enough to be a law firm – now you must know what your niche is, who you’ll serve within this niche, and how you’ll market yourself to this target demographic.
The Impact of Alternative Legal Services Providers
From websites that perform legal services such as living wills and real estate advice to legal apps that provide legal advice to online companies that review and witness legal documents to outsourcing to legal transcription and court reporting companies – the impact of alternative legal service providers cannot be ignored.
While in some instances, these alternative legal service providers absolve lawyers, paralegals, and other legal experts of doing some of the more tedious legal tasks – there is of course a trickle-down impact here.
Law firms who specialized in providing the services and expertise that can now be easily accessed with a few taps of the keyboard or swipe of a digital device, must look hard at how they’ll remain viable. Perhaps it takes creating a legal website directly connected to your law firm’s niche specialty or partnering with an alternative legal services provider to act as a value-add for clients or to act as a consultant for the app owners who aren’t able to fully provide the legal assistance clients need.
However you look at it, the law firm of the future is changing. These are exciting times and the best way to stay relevant is to be in-tune with how every aspect of daily life is changing – what was de facto standard in 2015 is now obsolete and the standards of today are soon to be replaced with something new. How will your law firm adapt and thrive?