The Tech Savvy Lawyer – Web Technologies And Legal Firms

The legal industry and information technology

Like all industries, the legal sector is not isolated from the tremendous changes in information technology of the past decade and the challenges and opportunities it presents. In any case, the changes will have a greater impact on law firms and departments because information management is at the heart of what they do – consultation with clients, colleagues or experts; increasing compliance and regulatory requirements wading through an ever-expanding sea of ​​legislation and case law; manage outsourcing partners; keep up to date with the latest developments; or managing a mountain of matter files.

Recent trends

Perhaps the most important change in legal services is the decline in “relationship lawyers”.

Recently there has been more competition and changes in the underlying market structure. There is a continuing trend of decline in “relationship lawyers”. Traditionally strong relationships between law firms and companies are deteriorating, with more companies choosing internal legal departments or “looking around” for the best deal. Another important trend is the increasing convergence of legal markets, where competition is as much from a company in another state or abroad as from a local company. These and other developments are putting more pressure on law firms to be more efficient, and it is imperative that lawyers spend their time analyzing information rather than organizing or managing it.

Drivers of Technology Adoption by Legal Firms

Technology Capabilities – The main driver of greater use of information technology by law firms is the development of technology itself. New technologies and wider bandwidths offer great opportunities in information management, productivity and remote collaboration. Information can be transferred over the internet with greater security. And unlike in the past, law firms have access to these technologies at no great cost and without the need to set up specialized IT departments.

In 2004, Forrester Research Inc estimated that approximately 39,000 legal jobs had been relocated offshore by the end of 2008.

Outsourcing / Offhsoring – Legal offices are now increasingly open to outsourcing legal tasks of tasks they have traditionally monitored closely: research, transcription, coding and even legal research and drafting of legal documents. It is common to see a New York-based law firm subletting research work to a team of professional lawyers and paralegals in Bangalore, India. This allows companies to significantly reduce costs and focus on core legal functions. But it also requires a greater need to communicate, collaborate and monitor the functioning of outsourcing suppliers from hundreds of thousands of thousands of distances. Security is also an issue, as the provision of the services often requires access to regulated consumer data or other sensitive data.

In 2004, nearly 60% of lawyers worked in multi-office and more than 10% of lawyers worked in offices with ten or more offices.

Geographic diversification – As mentioned earlier, there is a clear move towards multiple office businesses, with offices spread both nationally and globally. US-based companies now serve many foreign customers or serve the foreign interests of domestic customers. Many international clients were present in even the smallest law firms from 1 to 20 lawyers. There has also been a wave of global mergers and acquisitions of law firms in the new millennia. All this necessitates a greater need for communication, cooperation and information exchange between sites.

Regulatory Compliance – Since the Sarbanes Oxley Act entered into force, records management has become an essential requirement. Organizations are required by law to retain certain documents for a predetermined period. Also, the changes to the federal rules of civil procedure came into effect on December 1, 2006, and apply to any company involved in litigation in the United States. Federal judicial system. The changes require companies to be prepared for electronic discovery. Companies need to drastically change the way they store, retrieve and produce electronic data.

Competition comes from both companies around the country and around the world, as well as consultants and advisors who have traditionally not been considered part of the “legal industry”

Competition – Businesses can no longer afford to be complacent due to the disappearance of relationship law and customer “one stop shopping”. In addition, competition comes from the other end of the country or the world just as often as from local companies. Competition also comes from other departments, advisers and advisors who offer services previously under the jurisdiction of lawyers. In this arena of intense competition, lawyers must double as “rain makers”; networkers (legal business development) in addition to traditional roles.

IT needs of the legal sector

Centralized Document Storage – The legal profession generates a vast amount of digital information in the form of records, contracts, court records, supporting documents, evidence, instructions, agreements, bills, bills, documents and other office activities such as email. This information is the collective knowledge and knowledge of the company, which distinguishes it from competition and has to be retrieved over and over again. Compliance also requires that certain documents be stored and retrievable for an extended period of time. Lawyers from different offices must have access to and collaborate on this information.

In 2007, 53% of lawyers used a PDA outside the office, 32% used to check email.

ABA Law Tech Report 2007

Remote access – Direct access to critical documents and information can sometimes be the difference between a favorable or negative opinion. Lawyers now have wings to visit clients, interview experts or attend extrajudicial procedures, and are often out of the office. It is important that they can have LAN-like access to documents from the company’s repository even when they are out of the office.

Collaboration on documents – It is not enough just to access documents from the company’s storage. A single file may require multiple inputs from lawyers with different expertise, clients, experts, researchers and other employees across the country or even the world (in case of outsourcing). That’s why it’s important to simultaneously access and collaborate on the same file, from where everyone is.

Remote Conferencing – Sometimes the ability to collaborate on a document is not enough and an actual discussion and merging of heads may be necessary. Web conferencing allows multiple people to come together in a virtual meeting room and discuss issues as effectively as there are in person.

Security – Much of the information a law firm processes is highly sensitive client information, which is designed to protect my business ethics and contracts. Since this information is usually accessed and distributed over the public Internet network, and often distributed to third parties on a particular page, security is the number one priority.

Access Control – Another level of security is the ability to control who sees what information and what they can do with it. Since multiple parties such as lawyers and employees across the company, outsourcing partners, and multiple clients have access to information from the company’s central store, this is paramount.

Productivity Applications – While managing documents and information is one of the most important things law firm IT systems need to do, it is not everything. They also need the ability to manage and share schedules, keep lists of important contacts, manage and follow up on various tasks and disputes, teams or individual attorneys who may be involved, or billing management.

What they don’t need

41% of lawyers did not have IT staff in a location in front of their office, while 17% have one person, 8% two, and 38% three or more

ABA Law Tech Report 2006

IT Issues – If getting all of the above requires setting up a specialized IT department, installing expensive hardware and managing ongoing maintenance and upgrades, it might not be worth it for a small to medium-sized law firm. Larger companies have the big wallet and the incentive to set up special systems, but it may not be sustainable for smaller companies.

Complexity – In order for lawyers to embrace the IT system, lawyers should be able to focus on the information itself, rather than struggling with the core of the system.

Costs – Costs are, of course, a first consideration for small to medium-sized businesses in different industries. The ongoing costs and significant capital investments required for custom and business systems are just out of reach.

The Software-as-a-Service advantage for legal companies – Hyperoffice as a case in study

SAAS allows companies to pay to use the software instead of owning it

About eight to 10 years ago, it was true that access to the above technologies was only available to large companies whose budget and scale justified specific IT departments. Times have changed since then. The Software as a Service (SAAS) approach offers even small to medium businesses easy access to technologies for large companies, but without the messy underbelly and the huge costs involved.

Benefits of SAAS solutions

– Low implementation

– Viable

– Flexible

– Mobile access

– Enterprise Class functions

– Backup and security

– Updates and improvements

Software as a service (SAAS) is an approach where the software vendor assumes the burden of creating, hosting, maintaining, and securing the application on its own, and further demonstrating it over the Internet as a service to customers. Customers do not pay for the possession of the software itself, but for its use. Some specific benefits of the SAAS approach are as follows: –

No Deployment, No Dedicated IT Department – Since the backend is provided by the vendor, users do not have to worry about hardware, software downloads, server security, configuration, etc. Deployment cycles from months are reduced to just days. For example, HyperOffice only requires a sign-up and customers can get started in minutes.

Cost effective: scale up and down as needed – The cost structure of SAAS solutions is usually a reasonable monthly fee per user. This ensures that minimal costs are trapped, unlike business solutions that spend tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, there is no cost uncertainty, as the terms are clearly formulated, which allows for greater predictability.

Big Business Features – There is a range of big business functionality available to users, but they don’t have to worry about the complex backend associated with implementing this functionality, because that’s the supplier’s headache.

Flexibility and Mobility: Always Stay Connected – These solutions are designed for web delivery. This ensures that the system is available in full functionality through a simple web browser, saving users from tiring downloads or deployments on local workstations. Since these solutions are children of the internet and mobility age, they also provide access via mobile devices. HyperOffice offers almost full functionality on many mobile devices with internet access, including iPhone.

User-friendly – Ease of use is paramount for a non-technical lawyer. SAAS solutions are out-of-the-box. The emphasis is on ease of use, with the messy backend. The full HyperOffice solution can be managed from a central console and requires no technical expertise at all – really child’s play!

Backup and Security: Let the Experts Handle It – It takes effort to ensure security and disaster preparedness. Antivirus software must be purchased and implemented, the system must be constantly monitored and the physical security of the servers must be guaranteed. Disaster recovery plans should also be made in the event of events such as fire, natural disasters, etc. Backup servers and magnetic tapes should be maintained, backup frequency managed, etc. Wow!

With SAAS, all this is part of the messy backend provided by the supplier. In addition, these vendors have developed expertise in hosting and securing applications, as this is their core business. This is an expertise that a medium-sized law firm cannot and does not want to develop.

Updates and improvements – Since the application resides on the supplier’s servers, the supplier can easily add updates, improvements and new features that are immediately available to the users of the application.

Source by Pankaj Taneja