How Technology is Disrupting the Legal Industry: Q&A with Abhay Jain

Technology disrupts every industry it touches, and law is no exception. Yet, lawyers have long been saddled with the reputation of being resistant to change, trapped and suffocated by old business models. Is the legal industry inherently different from those that have embraced technology and rapidly evolved as a result? And what changes lie ahead for legal marketing, technology, and client experience?

Litify spoke with Abhay Jain, startup founder and strategic advisor to Fortune 500 companies, about the future of the legal industry. Jain is a partner at Quire, where he advises innovators, creators, and industry leaders on business model design, corporate development, and access to strategic capital. With a law degree from Duke University, he’s no stranger to the unique challenges and opportunities the legal industry faces.

Litify: The legal industry has a reputation as being a late adopter of technology. Are there factors inherent to the industry that contribute to this? 

Jain: Lawyers are taught to be risk averse. All of the legal education system tells you about things that go wrong in contracts, in entrepreneurship, and how to best protect yourself legally and contract around those things that can go wrong. So that leads to an inherent risk adversity, and a startup mentality is about taking risks.

Litify: What are the biggest drivers of change, across industries?

Jain: Obviously technology. Technology is driving consumption behavior, and that applies to attention as well. People are being pulled in a thousand different new directions with their time and their attention. And that’s changing the way media is consumed, purchase decisions are made, and the way we interact with one another as human beings.

Another is access to information. That may not be a new trend, but in the practice of law, for example, if I want to understand legal precedent, there used to be significant closed doors to finding case law. Now, I can Google recent case law, on, say, seatbelt law or seatbelt judgments in the past five years for plaintiffs. You can see all of those results that you previously couldn’t.

The final piece is the rise of the gig economy. People are purchasing less. They’re purchasing homes less, they’re purchasing cars less, and they’re also committing to jobs less. They’d rather work freelance or work remotely, and be able to travel and helicopter in for projects when they know their expertise is needed, and then go to a new location and take on a new project. It’s a very different way of life that’s going to uproot real estate, media consumption, and also the way jobs are done, including in the legal profession.

Litify:  Law firms are increasingly using data and analytics to support decision making in both the business and practice of law. But do you think that big data can be too big, in that companies have a problem sorting through the information to use it intelligently?

Jain: We’re seeing companies collect more and more data, which is great, but data means nothing without the insights that you can pull from it. You need to pinpoint what you need, and understand how all the little pieces of data that are disparate and disorganized tie together to create a narrative.

For example, Walmart for the past ten years was collecting raw video footage of all of their aisles, just because they thought the data could become valuable one day. Some smart people came in and put AI-driven facial recognition and retinal identification into some of these videos and were able to map out in each aisle where people’s attention was drawn to and to which products across demographics, and at different times of day. In this massive well of data, if you’re able to go in and take out those sorts of insights, that can be incredibly powerful.

Insights are hard to come by. Analytics and analysis and drawing correlations are relatively easy. The insights of what it actually means and what the company should do as a result of it are what defines a lot of strategic advisory work.

Litify: Law is paralleling the rest of the business world by becoming a buyer’s market for legal services, as opposed to a seller’s market. Thomson Reuters acknowledges in their “2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market” that “clients are in control.” Jeff Bezos cites an “obsessive focus on the customer” as the top reason for Amazon’s success. What are your thoughts on this multi-industry switch to a “buyer’s market”?

Jain: There’s just such a wealth of options out there that it truly is becoming a buyer’s market. Access to information is key. The more you can learn and research and understand about companies online, the more informed  potential buyers are.

For lots of traditional players, all they have to compete on is price at this point, especially for lower-value legal engagements, such as filing IP forms. The only true distinction happens at senior levels, where big corporate engagements require the expertise of a partner. But otherwise, everything else is relatively commoditized.

The same thing is happening in the banking industry. Any sufficiently intelligent analyst or associate more or less can value your company and manage a transaction. At that level, it’s hard to distinguish output between Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, or anyone else. The true differentiation beyond fees happens with the partners’ brilliant thinking and broad relationships. Honestly, with most transactions, that level of insight is not even really needed. But, when it is, having those resources at your disposal are absolutely critical.

Litify: How does technology help companies become more client-centric?

Jain: For B2C companies, it helps them understand their audience on a granular level that they weren’t able to before. They are able to have direct interactions, either through surveys or social engagement, to see how they’re feeling or faring with content, or with their products or services. Technology also helps companies design products around consumer needs, rather than saying, “this is the service we provide, it is what it is, take it or leave it.”

Litify: If a law firm brought you in to help them evolve and grow, what process would you use to help them  innovate?

Jain: The steps would involve answering the following questions: What are the key services they offer and in which services are they the most experienced? What are their margins for cases or clients, large and small? What does their infrastructure look like in terms of the support for these engagements? How are they staffing these engagements? How are they understanding feedback loops around their current clients? And, finally, I would try to understand their sales process—getting and retaining clients should be priority number one. We would want to know how we can fill the top of the funnel more efficiently to reserve partners’ time for solving client problems and closing deals.

Additionally, from the market side, we understand that low-value legal engagements like filing copyright forms or filing a trademark are going to increase, but large complex deals are going to decrease. What we can do is systematize a process by which you can take on these relatively low-value engagements but still drive significant margin, and focus on those in addition to the large engagements. Perhaps you’re capturing the future of legal service needs, but at the same time, you have the ability to continue doing what you’re doing with large, unique transactions where partner insight is needed.

Ready to innovate your law firm? Schedule a free demo of Litify and discover the ways in which technology can future-proof your practice. 

Preparing for Disruption: How Technology Can Secure Your Law Firm’s Legacy

In 2001, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPod from a small stage in Cupertino, California. Six short years later, he unveiled the first iPhone.

As consumers, we often look at tech innovations and gadgets with rose-tinted glasses, jumping at the chance to use the next shiny new toy or app.

For businesses though, especially law firms, all of this endless innovation can be terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s how technology is benefiting the legal industry.

What is disruptive innovation?

The phrase “disruptive innovation” is a popular buzzword in modern market literature. Generally, it begins when a small company deploys novel technology that challenges (or, in some cases, replaces) the products or services offered by established companies within a given industry. Industry disruption happens when the status quo adapts to the new competition and deploys similar technology en masse.

The rise of Uber is a notable example of disruptive innovation within the transportation industry.

When Uber NYC launched in May 2011, it immediately exposed massive problems within the city’s taxi medallion program. Not only did the rise of Uber reveal that the taxi program artificially suppressed demand and was priced unfairly, but it also capitalized on these problems by offering consumers a brand-new, affordable, and readily available transportation option that exploded in popularity across the city and subsequently, around the globe. Many players in the transportation industry adapted to Uber’s innovation and the disruption is evident in today’s market.

Disruption leads to industry convergence

Ten years ago, the idea of receiving healthcare services at a local Walmart seemed foreign. Today, Walmart blurs the line between the retail and healthcare industries by offering health insurance plans, in-store immunizations, and health screenings to its customers. Similarly, online pharmaceutical companies, like PillPack, are shaking up the way people shop for medicine and transforming the way industry giants like CVS serve their customers.

As new players innovate, established companies are forced to adapt to the disruption, and industries often converge as a result.

Law firms are not immune from disruption launched in 2001, ushering in a new wave of industry competition and forever changing the way consumers value legal services. Platforms like LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and UpCounsel are often easier to use, cheaper, and more efficient than engaging with traditional law firms. While online legal platforms have limitations, their existence has required brick-and-mortar law firms to embrace 21st-century solutions for case management, marketing, communications, and client relations. In fact, according to Google, online searches for these digital-first legal services have increased by 67% over the last five years. If traditional law firms are to remain relevant, they must leverage technology to offer the same efficient and transparent service that companies like LegalZoom offer.

Technological innovation will continue in the legal industry. As the industry changes, do you want your firm to lead the change, or risk being left behind?

Future-proof your firm’s legacy

There are only two options for responding to disruption. Law firms can clutch their pearls, cling to the old way of doing business and find themselves in a similar position that New York City’s taxis found themselves in, with no viable response to Uber. Or, they can embrace innovation by deploying technology designed to automate daily tasks, efficiently market legal services, and simplify client engagement.

Think about your firm’s legacy and what you’ve built. Is it future-proof? Do you have the tools you need to remain competitive in 2019 and beyond?

If you’re ready to explore how to take your law firm to the next level by capitalizing on industry convergence, it’s time to check out Litify. Litify provides law firms with the foundation and resources for providing a superior level of customer experience that clients now expect.

Consumers are already turning from traditional law firms towards online providers. It’s time to bring them back and secure your firm’s legacy. Let’s talk about how our solutions can give your firm the tools it needs to become a high-performing business now and for years to come.

The Evolution of Software as a Service and Why Your Clients are Going to Demand you Go There

Embrace Technology – Other firms are

In our last article we introduced the evolution of the cloud and the value it provides. Today law firms that work with corporations are going to be faced with a big decision: continue to shy away from technology that can help the firm be more efficient and communicative, or embrace technology and provide greater client service which in turn could generate more revenue.

Are things really changing?

Almost every day you can read an article or blog authored by a long time legal industry veteran discussing the changing landscape of legal – both from the perspective of the practice and the business of law. Topics range from in-house evolution, the ever increasing number of alternative legal providers, to areas of technology such as AI and mobility. There is a consistent message in all of these articles, and that is remaining competitive will require law firms to look at their practice and business as a whole and come up with strategies for operating more efficiently while continuing to deliver high quality. Years ago corporations began the long process of putting in controls to finally get their arms around what was perceived as out-of-control legal spend. Organizations like CLOC and ACC Legal Ops have grown from this initiative and there are many smart professionals now working side by side with GCs to gain control.

Why can’t firms be efficient using older technology?

Through the years one thing has remained constant, in order to solve a problem with technology, you needed to find a specific tool. This has created a market with tons of separate “point” solutions. Having many different solutions creates serious issues with integration, upkeep and maintenance – creating internal and external challenges. Can firms provide their clients with accurate information if their attorneys have challenges getting that information? Can true collaboration really happen if there are not the tools in place to enable it?

What needs to change?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all accepted radical change with the way we interact with technology many times in our lives. If we didn’t embrace technology, we would all be carrying around music players, rolodexes, cameras, video cameras, notebooks, telephones, etc. Today we don’t have to carry around these devices because of the invention of the iPhone. The iPhone has allowed us to eliminate the need to carry many devices while simplifying everyday tasks. For example, today, we take a picture and can immediately share it through email or text. Compare that to the previous manual process. If you think this in terms of a legal platform, think about the efficiency gains and process improvement from integration of systems. On a legal platform firms can easily share information and documents with clients. Lawyers can have access to.

ALL pertinent matter information and easily merge this information into legal documents. The applications of integrated information and systems is endless. This coupled with the advantages of being in the cloud create a situation that firms need to embrace. Clients are going to demand it! Now… firms just have to move. Think back to your iPhone purchase, at the time, you could never imagine moving from your Blackberry. Now you can’t imagine moving back…this is the vision modern firms must have.

The Evolution of Software as a Service and Why Your Firm Should Be on the Cloud

Traditionally in tech (let’s pretend that phrase isn’t an oxymoron for a moment), there were two ways to do things when it came to software: monolithic systems and point solutions.

In a monolithic system, all functions are interwoven architecturally; entire apps are built as a single unit. Think of an old and monumental ERP, the kind of unique and privately built, controlled, and maintained IT system a huge corporation had. You got ownership, in-house security, and continuity.

You also got rigidity, bulkiness, and long implementation times. Although once simple, these systems became more complex as business needs grew and applications got larger. They got bogged down by complicated layers and became massive and immovable – hence the term monolith. It’s become clear with time that scaling those singular systems is messy and can create bottlenecks.

Enter point solutions. Sometimes called microservices or best-in-breed, these niche technology solutions were aimed to solve small, but important, pieces of the larger puzzle. The idea was more to divide and conquer versus to build a large army housed in an impregnable castle.

But these boutique solutions came at a cost. They are completely separate software sets that don’t talk to each other at all. Their requirement of different user credentials, interfaces, and workflows creates more administrative work for teams. A proliferation of vendors and lack of communication between apps meant a lot of costly, time-consuming, trial and error required to find the pieces that fit with your business’s puzzle.

These two types of software systems exist at two ends of the spectrum. When we began brainstorming the best way to use technology to refine law firm operations, we thought, what if we stopped thinking of extremes and started meeting in the middle?

Legos, Goldilocks and Square Dancing

Litify introduces a whole new way to optimize your firm’s operations: loosely coupled cloud integrations. This system provides central management of data center resources through smaller software solutions. You get agility and the ability to tap into pre-built services as-needed.

In a loosely coupled system, components use little or no knowledge of the other separate components, which means they can be replaced by alternative applications that provide the same services. Imagine each AppExchange category like a square dance. Every app can follow the steps, and it’s easy to take one out for a spin and decide who you groove with the most.

These loosely coupled cloud integrations have one job; they’re responsible for a single functionality. Because they’re independent, they can be built by any set of tools or languages.

But unlike point solutions, they are built to mesh with the pieces around them. They fit together like lego blocks – designed to come together for a greater purpose, but easy to take apart if needed and left unchanged.

Cloud computing is cheaper, more flexible, and faster to deploy than any previous method. It allows applications to be continually updated and new features can be rolled out to all law firms very quickly. Cloud solutions also tend to be more secure, since providers are more adept and better equipped to protect their computing systems against hackers than individual businesses.

Individual attorneys can access their files across devices instantly with just a secure internet connection, making them more mobile and available to clients. Meanwhile, data is continuously and automatically backed up. In short, a loosely coupled cloud solution is the law firm’s Goldilocks.

Litify provides a platform technology solution built on Salesforce with integration APIs for workflow applications that are easy to configure, interoperable, and scalable. There are over 3,400 apps on the Exchange already that you can choose from to maximize your firm’s operational efficiency.

Whereas monolith systems are out of reach for small law firms to develop or use both because of cost and complexity, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that use loosely coupled cloud integrations like Litify level the playing field and allow small law firms to effectively compete against bigger firms and non-law firm legal service providers that use cloud technology.

Get Your Head in the Cloud

We’re already well past the cloud computing tipping point. Computing power has gone the way of electricity; instead of generating it individually and on-site, we now tap into a network for power. The cloud computing market is projected to reach $411B by 2020. It is the engine of enterprise technology innovation.

And, while law firms have been late adopters of technology in the past, according to the American Bar Association’s 2017 Legal Technology Survey 52% of firms report using cloud computing software. Additionally, according to a Cisco study, by 2020 74% of the total cloud workloads will be SaaS workloads.

Basically, if you’re not using loosely coupled integrations on the cloud, you’re in the past.

The world is in constant flux, and the demands on data are flowing with it. SaaS through the cloud is a revolutionary innovation for the delivery of legal services. Increased efficiency not only allows attorneys to redirect their time to tackle new problems, but also enables firms to serve a broader group of consumers, which expands access to justice.

Litify is one way you can adopt an adaptive and proactive business strategy. It provides a platform built for loosely integrated components that law firms can integrate to streamline their operations, increase team productivity and increase growth. The following are the AppExchange integrations that our clients have found most beneficial.

Top 5 AppExchange Integrations for Law Firms

  • DocuSign. The market leader in e-signature, DocuSign is the best way to send, sign and track agreements and approvals. The app allows you to digitize legal documents, sales contracts, HR forms, and more from anywhere, on any device at anytime.
  • Spring CM (Premier). A document management solution, this app is built to streamline document generation and automate their workflow. You can route docs for review and signature and store them directly on the appropriate record. It comes with pre-approved templates and online forms that can quickly pull data from Salesforce. It helps maximize visibility and increase efficiency since you can initiate a workflow immediately upon creating a document.
  • Breadwinner. Quickbooks Online’s integration. A simple way to connect your Matters to your financials. Offers two-way creation and sync of invoices, bills, purchase orders, payments and more, which are brought into Salesforce and synced live hourly.
  • New Voice Media. A comprehensive phone solution that allows you to manage inbound and outbound calls directly inside of Litify. Built specifically for Salesforce, New Voice Media works seamlessly on our platform to allow CTI, IVR, click-to-dial, auto dialing, call recording and call routing.
  • 360 SMS or SMS Magic. Provides you the ability to send and receive SMS/MMS directly inside of Litify. You can text your clients and offer them the ability to communicate with you in the way they prefer.

Law Firm Operations Are Shifting, Thanks To Technology & Customer Expectations

Law firms are making a shift. They’re operating more like businesses and adopting a client-centric mentality – driven by customer expectations and structured to attract top talents.

It pays to understand the trends and driving forces behind these changes so you can structure your workflow, processes, and workplace culture to stay at the top of the game.

Here are three trends to keep in mind and what they mean to you.

1. Increased Technology Usage

Many law firms are now cloud-based, leveraging Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products to adapt to modern industry standards and run their practices cost-effectively.

Practice management software
for billing, timekeeping, client contact information, and task managementFirms are using:

  • Document management systems to run a “paperless” office
  • Client intake software to increase efficiency and conversion rates, including keeping tabs on marketing ROI

Many new tools are available to manage the increasing amount of electronic documentation and communication of firms. Similarly, firms are starting to use artificial intelligence software to evaluate certain aspects of lengthy documents in a matter of minutes.

In addition to lowering cost, reducing error, and giving staff time back to increase productivity, technology is changing workplace culture. 

Using a patchwork of tools and apps is no longer sufficient, especially when they don’t link together. You need a centralized platform so all documents, communications and other activities are in one place, allowing lawyers to work outside of the office and enjoy more flexibility. Increasingly, employees expect employers have the infrastructure in place to support working remotely. More on that in number 3.

2. Change In Customer Expectations

In tandem with the evolution of apps and websites, the digital era has changed how consumers interact with businesses and their expectations on how services are delivered.

For instance, the ubiquity of e-commerce platforms that allow consumers enhanced transparency into the status of their orders is creating the same expectation across professional services too.

When it comes to law firms, clients now expect access to lawyers beyond a phone call, snail mail or email. The most popular advancement being SMS, or text messaging. Along the same lines, clients expect a near-immediate response, regardless of time of day. Chatbots are stepping in to provide 24/7 responses and interaction capabilities, a trend that will be covered in more depth in Part 2 of this series.

Electronic signatures are also changing the game for both clients and firms. No more money spent on postal service, waiting for a contract or other piece of the case in the mail, and no on-site visits or travel unless absolutely necessary.

To manage changing expectations, it’s imperative to  set up a system that makes it easy for a practice’s staff to respond to client inquiries at all times without being physically in the office and to capitalize on incoming inquiries.

3. Remote Work and Mobile Access

As discussed, the adoption of cloud-based collaboration platforms and electronic document management systems allows lawyers to access case files and client data from any location with internet access. That means they can be responsive to clients in a more timely manner, as well as take advantage of working from a variety of locations, a convenience both employers and employees are enjoying.

Employers are reducing overhead and operating cost since they don’t have to maintain a physical workspace while employees enjoy the flexibility. In fact, a recent survey revealed that remote workers are happier at work and 91% of participants rated themselves to be more productive when working remotely. Not to mention, the remote working trend is making it easier for attorneys who are licensed in multiple jurisdictions to actively work in both locations.

Cloud-based law firms are adopting a dispersed organization structure – they can hire talent from anywhere because they’re no longer constrained by a physical location – making them more competitive. Quite a few virtual firms have seen their revenue growth hover around 40 to 60 percent a year for the last half-decade.

Summary: Stay Competitive While Reducing Cost and Increasing Productivity

Law firms are adopting technology to help them meet the ever-growing demands of client expectations, in line with general business and cross-industry trends .

The most effective way to leverage technology is to implement a unified platform that allows you to handle case management and client interactions all in one place, accessible from anywhere. Such platforms should also allow your team to analyze metrics (e.g. conversion rate, matter value, case quality) so you can continually improve your firm’s processes and grow.

That’s why if you haven’t already, request a demo of Litify today.