The Legal Helm podcast: Episode #11
Estimated read time: 16 minutes
Happy new year and welcome to 2022! We’re starting the year with predictions for 2022’s legal tech environment. Join Bim Dave as he highlights his top five legal tech trends. He explains what trends to look for, why they’re important, and how they can keep law firms moving forward. It’s a quick 20 minute listen that will have you looking at your legal tech in new, business-boosting ways.
Bim Dave is Helm360’s Executive Vice President. With 15+ years in the legal industry, his keen understanding of how law firms and lawyers use technology has propelled Helm360 to the industry’s forefront. A technical expert with a penchant for developing solutions that improve business systems and user experience, Bim has a knack for bringing high quality IT architects and developers together to create innovative, useable solutions to the legal arena.
Bim: Hi everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Legal Helm. This is our first for 2022 so I want to wish our listeners a very happy new year. I also want to say a big thank you to all who listened to our show in 2021. Your support has put the Legal Helm into the top 10 legal tech podcast rankings, which I’m truly grateful for.
Today. I want to talk about the top five legal tech trends for 2022. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the first one.
The first item on my list is technology to improve the client experience. This means everything from how we communicate with clients all the way through to how we deliver information and updates to them. I break this down into a few key areas: collaboration, continuous feedback and improvement, and finally communication.
When we think about collaboration, I think we will see more investment in communication and collaboration platforms to ensure lawyers can communicate and connect one-to-one virtually through easily accessible platforms, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as some of the other collaboration platforms that are out there. We already saw a big change in IT priorities at many firms that were still using old platforms, like Skype for business, and pushing aggressively forward with MS Teams and Zoom to enable better collaboration experience both internally and externally at the start of the pandemic. Leveraging technology to allow customers to be informed from the point of engagement all the way through to delivery will be even more important to help build trust with customers.
For example, timely updates, the case financials and streamlining information delivery through client extra-nets will be more of a priority for firms. A number of firms I’ve spoken to in recent months have told me that the customer experience through their extra nets have been quite poor and haven’t changed much over the years. They provide very basic information in terms of the matter. Modernizing such interactions simply creates a better client experience. I think what we’ll see is more adoption of technology that will really allow better collaboration through web portals that connect the client experience with the legal team that supports them.
Next the continuous feedback and improvement area. With the hybrid working world we live in, we’ve got to ask ourselves a question: Is this how we deliver a good client experience and build relationships effectively? Does the hybrid work model maintain and enhance the client experience?
The answer to this question comes in varying forms. Simple tools, like Survey Monkey, can give great insight into how customers feel about the experience you deliver as a law firm. It’s a great opportunity to learn and evolve. This is a continuous cycle. There have been many times where I’ve had experiences with various vendors, including law firms that we’ve interacted with as a software business. Many times during the case, it’s very difficult to reach the right people at the right time, which makes it really difficult to understand where you are in the case progression. Being able to provide proactive updates and improving that kind of experience is really valuable.
And when it comes to the feedback improvement cycle, follow up of the case delivery is so important. It gives us an invaluable opportunity to really get the feedback from the customer. Not only about how that case was delivered to them, but it’s about what kind of improvements could be implemented the next time. It also opens a door for further conversations and opportunities to grow the relationship because there’s always opportunities to sell more service as a result of those conversations and building that relationship.
Finally, improving the client experience is really communication. This relates to both the unique selling point of your law firm and how easy it is to do business with you. So, think about the customer experience that you have at the moment. If someone wants to learn about your services and they’re coming to your website to find out more, how easy is it? Ask yourself that question. For example, if I’m looking for an immigration lawyer, how easy is it to not only navigate to the information that will help me understand firstly what your expertise in this area is, but most importantly, how do I get connected with the lawyer that can help me.
Products like chatbot technology, our own Termi for example, can help make that transition really simple and easy so that you’re delivering information in real time, you’re answering questions about the services you offer, but most importantly, connecting two experiences so the information delivered through your website takes the client on a journey where they can connect with the availability of a lawyer that has the expertise they need. So that they can get booked in and have a conversation with the expert that matters. That bridges the gap between finding out about a service and signing up for a service.
If you haven’t seen it yet, please go to helm360.com/termi and book a demo. Go and understand how a chat bot extends the experience of your website. We’d be happy to show you more on that subject.
The second trend for 2022 is a continued focus on technology solutions that can make hybrid working easier. Now, this has obviously been an ongoing challenge since the pandemic. This area has three key categories for me: how we work, the environment we work in, and then mindfulness and mental health. And these apply to onboarding new people, supporting our staff, doing their day-to-day interactions and trying to get things done, as well as accessing firm knowledge quickly and easily from wherever you might be.
When I think about this, I think about when I started at Helm360 and really the multitude of processes, policies in general, firm questions that I would have to get to a point where I understood the basics of what I needed to do on a day-to-day basis, the who’s who of the organization, the policy questions that may be related to HR, and simple expense queries. All of those questions become much more difficult to answer when working remotely. It’s even harder when you’re new to a firm and you haven’t been able to build relationships that give you the confidence to go and ask the questions you would typically ask in a corridor or an office or over the desk to your friendly colleague.
Again, chatbots solutions can help bridge the gap between employees and all the knowledge documents you have scattered across SharePoint or other intranet portals or documents storage. Natural language search capability is really the key to success because being able to ask that question in a very simple way, “how do I submit an expense claim” for example, and taking that user on a journey to the document that will help them. Or the tool or technology that’s going to allow them to enter the expense is key in the process, and that will allow everybody to onboard quickly, save time, and get people to their destination in a much more easy and accessible way.
The environment we work in is also important. As we have evolved to working from home more, the environment is so important in terms of making sure that A) we have good connectivity, and B) that we have good device support to enable us to be successful from home.
When I talk about connectivity, I think what we’ll see over the, next few months is a ig push and mass adoption of WIFI 6 technology in the home so people can work from home with a stable connection and extend the reach of their home networks. I’m sure everybody can relate to dead spots in their homes, where you really want to take your working experience out of the same room you’ve been in all day and go and sit in the garden or in the kitchen. Being able to do that quickly and seamlessly by leveraging newer hardware technologies that allow that experience to better will be a big key feature over the next few months. We’ve already seen, towards the end of 2021, increase in the number of units adopting the WIFI 6 protocol. I think that will continue to evolve.
Organizations will also need to invest in better mobile device support to help employees working from home. Again, that whole concept of being stuck at a desk at home, but wanting to be able to still continue work, but do it in a different environment. In order to really enable employees to use different devices, have a bring-your-own-device policy that allows them to securely access and work from iPads, for example, will be a good thing and something I think people will need to invest in.
Mindfulness is another thing that we need to be considerate of, especially in the hybrid working world. We do need to be mindful of the well-being of our employees. When people are working remotely, it adds stress and anxiety that can often lead to burn out. Because you are in a world where you are consumed by work, there isn’t a clear separation of work-home balance. It’s all contained within the same space. So, unless you’re really structured in your day, and you’re able to step away from your desk, this can lead to all sorts of issues.
I think we’ll see firms really taking this seriously, I think we’ve seen some evidence of that over the last year especially, with more advancements in mental health solutions to support staff. For example, here at Helm360, we rolled out a solution called Mylifewell, which is an online wellness solution for employees. It guides you through simple, but profound lifestyle changes that give you more energy vitality and improved health. Ultimately it allows people to work from home and have something of an outlet and support mechanism to allow them to do that in the most meaningful way.
The third tech trend we see in technology is really to automate not only business processes, which has been the staple for a number of years, but more automation of administrative work. Fundamentally enabling senior lawyers to truly scale out. And I think there are some key areas within this category that will probably be the focus.
One will be around research. Legal research in particular and more investment in natural language processing technology to accelerate that automation of first phase legal research. There’re already really good products out there that assist in this, like Westlaw and Practical Law from Thomson Reuters. I think we’ll continue to see more investment in this, making the technology evolve to a point where it’s much easier to access and research across multiple platforms, in a simple and easy way.
I think another interesting area is around marketing and how we win business at the end of the day. I think we will also see an increased use of technology solutions to enhance law firms’ digital marketing approach. I think this is so important, especially with the hybrid world that we live in and will continue to live in. Digital marketing strategy is so key to success for every business out there, including law firms. Solutions like Jarvis, which uses AI technology to write marketing copy, shows how AI technology is progressing into something both tangible and useful. This is all based on the newer GPT 3 technology, which is an auto regressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. And although it’s not perfect, it is pretty impressive as to how far it’s come. It is a technology that’s really useful and can accelerate the process of developing really good content for your digital marketing strategy. So definitely worth looking into.
In this third trend category of automation, I think the other piece is process is something that’s been done for many years in terms of technology solutions that can allow people to code workflows. I think there’ll be a bigger push for adopting no-code or lo-code platforms that help to automate business processes in a more meaningful way and allow rapid adoption. Process automation. platforms like Termi can help with this. Obviously, an AI chat bot allows you to automate some of those processes through the chat bot mechanism.
There are other vendor solutions that are solving some of these problems in a very real way. Another product I would recommend taking a look at is Thomson Reuters’ HighQ, which does a fantastic job of workflow and process automation.
The fourth trend for 2022 is focused on how we leverage data more meaningfully. We already know that data and the data that we hold in-house as a law firm is invaluable when it is used intelligently. I’ve started to see more and more firms exploring how they can leverage data beyond the traditional report and dashboard. That’s really exciting to see. For example, introducing simple ways to ask questions of your data like “How profitable is client ABC ?” through natural language and getting answers without having the complexity of having to go to a particular system. All of this is really important to produce easier ways to be able to get answers, to questions around the data that support the business function and ultimately produces the ability to introduce efficiencies into the process so we’re not wasting time navigating and drilling down into multiple reports. Just giving simple answers to questions that allow us to make significant change.
Firm data can also be leveraged for enhanced trend analysis, as well as automating financial auditing through various modern machine learning-based approaches. There’re some amazing things available to us from a technology perspective that are ready-to-go machine learning models that allow us to do trend analysis and really use the data in different ways.
I’m looking at that stuff from a Python perspective. For example, there’s a vast array of libraries that are available out-of-the-box that you can apply to your data through simple techniques and simple implementation methodology to get the best out of data that you have. Obviously, this means the data quality and ownership of data will become more and more important. In order to make use of your data in an effective way, it’s important to have a data strategy as an organization. Really invest that time to make sure that you’ve got leaders in place who own various elements of data, whether that be the CRM data or your practice management system, your financial data.
It’s important to identify the data owners and make sure they have a roadmap laid out to get to a point where that particular system is cleansed, understood in terms of what it can bring to the table in terms of intelligence around your customers, the way you do business, areas of growth, etc., and investing time in making sure that, from a data discovery perspective, you understand what you’ve got and what the state of that data looks like. It’s a great opportunity to invest in tools to allow you to do a good job of cleansing that data, because the more investment you have in making sure that the data is clean and well-maintained, the better the outcome in terms of the results you ultimately want to report on. So tools such as Helm360’s Digital Eye products can help establish that baseline of where your data is and assess the quality of data with minimal effort to provide that insight into what you have today, so you can form a good, solid data strategy in terms of how you get to your destination. This is important. If you are thinking of moving practice management system – so you’re migrating to a new platform – which is a great time to be investing in something like this so you can do a good job of minimizing the impact of the data conversion. Also just as a general good housekeeping practice perspective, it’s always good to stay on top of the data. Really making sure that you’ve got those leaders in places is a good starting point then developing that data strategy.
Last, but not least on our top five tech trends for legal, is the inevitable increase in cloud adoption and the inherent increased cybersecurity risks that comes with it. With more and more firms pushing core business systems, like their practice management system, into the cloud, security should – and will – be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. With Log 4J and solar winds among some of the biggest threats reported in 2021, 2022 will no doubt bring more challenges to firms to keep data secure and safe. For example, the average cost of a data breach increased by over a million dollars in 2021 due to remote work. This should come as no surprise to any of us.
When we work from home we’re more vulnerable to attack. Ultimately with the phones, tablets, and PCs that are at home and more accessible, it really opens up the doors for hackers to do much more damage than at an office which is more secure. Even more frightening is the fact that fewer than 3% of organizations protect their employees’ mobile devices, which is why earlier we were talking about this is key area of investment for any law firm that isn’t doing this today. Invest in a good mobile device strategy that balances access with security to make sure that things are locked down accordingly.
There are two important facts to remember here. One is that 95% of cybersecurity breaches result from human error. The second is that 20% of employees are likely to click on phishing emails and of those 5% will actually enter their credentials on a phishing website. The human element is something that is a no-brainer to focus on and something that all of us should be investing in over the years to come.
So what can we do about it? It starts with awareness and education. There are lots of resources that don’t cost a penny, but can make a big impact to cybersecurity awareness. For example, check out the National Cybersecurity Center. The NCSC, who offer a free online top tips for staff, which covers the basics really well. Those are great starting points and allows you to solidify a plan of action in terms of educating your staff. This is a continuous education that will need to continue for years to come. As cybersecurity threats increase and the complexity of those threats increase, you want to do a good job of educating your staff because that’s the best form of prevention.
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Until next time, thank you for listening.