The digital transition of lawyers is accelerating with the Covid-19. Indeed, forced to change the way they work, many lawyers are passing the threshold of digitalization. As a result, there has been an increase in the use of digital tools in all their forms. Website, customer and intranet spaces, online appointments, video-conference interviews… All with the aim of ensuring the continuity of the business and maintaining a relationship with customers. For example, according to the September 2020 study by the National Observatory of the NBC’s legal profession, more than 68% of participating firms have received online training during confinement; and more than 25% set up online appointments. The numbers are still increasing after the second containment, according to LexisNexis.
Digitalization, a matter of survival for lawyers in Covid periods
In addition to a valid simplification in any situation, digital offers law firms the keys to survive in times of crisis. For example, according to a December 2020 LexisNexis survey, 67% of lawyers now use video conferencing. 41% adopted the electronic signature. 36% have implemented extranet solutions to share documents and information within the firm and with clients.
However, these figures also reveal that theadoption of digital technology in the profession is still insufficient. According to this survey, almost half are equipped with management software, but peripheral tools remain marginal. Only 29% use a voice recognition solution; 27% have a scanning tool; less than 13% have a CRM.
As far as the tools of the legal profession are concerned, the finding is not much better. Contract robotics or case law analysis solutions are of little use. On the other hand, they generate a great interest from lawyers, suggesting that the lack of ownership of the tools would be mainly a lack of knowledge of the solutions, a lack of time for implementation and learning, or an apprehension to change the way of work. For good reason, with digital, it’s all the way to think of a typical day that evolves.
However, LexisNexis’ research and development division, Lexis Intelligence, develops dedicated tools for the legal profession. It has already introduced its Lexis® PolyOffice solution. An ecosystem that works with firm management, intelligent writing, electronic signature and digitization software. In addition to office automation, it is also initiating new solutions using artificial intelligence technologies. Predictive justice, legal watch, contract optimization… This improves the productivity and efficiency of lawyers.
The digital transition, a need long-time issued by lawyers
Although the health crisis is forcing the hand of the profession, the need for digitalization was already felt long before. On the other hand, the scale of the task triggered more inertia than agitation. Also, the use of the computer is still today more focused on production (exchange of emails, drafting contracts …) than on the creation of value. However, it obscures the whole collaborative, secure, and mobile dimension that surrounds professional IT solutions. In this area, new collaborations between start-ups and lawyers are emerging.
For years, publishers of digital software and tools have sought to convert the world of law. However, without any particular pressure, acculturation was very little done. With the Covid-19, the lines seem to move a little.
A study carried out by Ifop for the Legaltech Doctrine in April and May 2020 showed an evolution in the perception of digital for lawyers. First, 88% admitted to experiencing difficulties because of containment. Second, no less than 54% state a need to simplify procedures or accelerate in the execution of tasks. Moreover, 86% of professionals ask for digital tools to exchange with the courts.
Similarly, nearly three-quarters of participants say they want to improve their online presence. Between 65 and 70% of them also plebiscle tools for seeking legal information, dialogue or tracking files.
It should be noted, however, that successful solutions to these demands already exist. Legal intelligence tool; Legal database; analysis of case law; Editorial assistance; contract optimization chat and collaborative spaces; predictive justice… There is still a huge difference between the declarator, in favour of the digitalization of the profession of lawyer, and the actual use that is made of it.
Valuing the lawyer’s advice, gaining added value with digital
Originally, the rejection of the digital transition was mainly attributed to the fear of losing its added value as an advocate, of being replaced by machines. In reality, the solutions developed only help to get rid of the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks, as well as to improve the customer relationship. For good reason, in most missions, the machine cannot replace the lawyer, it comes to assist him, allow him to make more informed decisions.
The legal professions therefore remain relatively unmo modelable. Lawyers have to deal with complex situations with many ins and outs. Therefore, the human dimension is very present: advice, litigation, transmission, divorce… In addition to this human-specific empathy, the crossover of expertise is also difficult to model.
The goal of artificial intelligence (AI) is therefore not to replace the lawyer, but to give him the tools to inform decisions, give options, better document, identify problems. These tools also make it possible to better expose the customer to the situation. In reality, AI is the main way to create what can be called an “enhanced lawyer.”
Thus, by saving time, these new tools force law firms to rethink their billingmethods and put advice back at the heart of their business. We therefore leave the logic of billing in the past and value the relevance of the recommendations, the quality of the information, in the service of the added value of the lawyer.
“What digital transition for lawyers?” survey LexisNexis, December 2020
Study by the National Observatory of the PROFESSION of lawyers of the NBC “Covid 19 professional situation of lawyers” , September 2020
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