Login | March 18, 2019

Legal tech peaking?

RICHARD WEINER
Technology for Lawyers

Published: December 28, 2018

The results of the 2018 ABA Techreport are in, and nothing much has changed. It’s looking like the law biz has reached peak tech adoption.

And it is still way behind every other business sector you could think of—like 2 or 3 times behind.

The most telling stat to emerge from this report IMHO is the percentage of firms which have adopted practice management tools. These numbers have remained steady over the last few years, and they are way short of where they should be.

About a third of solo and under 10 firms have PM software; 62 percent of firms with 11-49 members; and about half of larger firms employ these tools.

One point here is that there is a glaring hole in what this software can provide: there is not one single platform that addresses every single need of a law firm’s practice management. So many firms, I’m guessing, try to cobble together whatever their firms need without going to a major platform because they will need to get add-ons anyway. The first platform that can provide every single practice management need may be the one to take the legal business over the hump.

At the same time that law firms can’t figure out how to manage their own practices, potential clients are getting more and more access to apps that do legal work for them at a fraction of the cost of law firms. While these apps work on the lower end of things (like traffic tickets), it is easy to see them climbing up the legal needs ladder. One factor driving this may be that client interfaces on web pages are intimidating and hard to navigate. Just sayin’.

One area of growth, though, is in apparent response to new privacy statutes like the GDPR, as the acquisition of metadata removal software is gaining in firms.

While in-house software is not growing, off-line usage certainly is, at least in small firms. Nearly 70 percent of attorneys affiliated with small firms now can work remotely, almost twice as many as three years ago. Large firms, however, are seeing a decline of this capability.

So it looks to some of us as if a couple of things need to happen to get out of the rut: more user-friendly client interfaces on the one hand, and better-developed an utilitarian practice management software platforms on the other.

So I’m sure this will all be cleared up by next year.


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