Technology continues to have a profound impact at all levels of society. This is increasingly the case in the UK’s legal sector where the debate remains ongoing as to the benefits of new technologies vs. any potential risks associated with challenging the long-established norms of operation.
As the pandemic rages on and looks set to continue into the new year even with news of the vaccines, legal firms, like many other businesses, are facing a period where making smart business decisions is a requirement. To adapt to the macro environment, innovative firms are leveraging the use of technology to assist their new ways of working, and to continue to scale and grow their business too.
How is the industry evolving?
Remote Working Remote working has accelerated digital transformation as we have seen more and more firms prioritising the restructuring of their ways of working to ensure robust business continuity in the face of the pandemic. Firms are using this time to explore and experiment with new, fully compliant methods of some of their oldest business processes.
Case Management Systems End-to-end case management systems are a way for law firms to digitise their whole legal function effectively. They allow law firms to open separate designated client matters, with the ability to upload documents and create invoices. Firms have seen increased efficiencies through adopting systems like this to effectively streamline and manage their workloads, whilst allowing them to focus on providing their clients with the highest levels of service.
Digital Escrows Another recent development in the legal-tech space is that of digital escrows or Third-Party Managed Accounts. Using TPMAs, firms can improve operational efficiencies and protect themselves from falling victim to fraudulent misdirection of payments from their client monies accounts. Available technology can verify the identities of all transacting parties, secure funds in designated client monies accounts and validate payee bank account details to ensure funds are only sent to the intended recipient. With real-time notification and reconciliation systems, law firms can confidently use this technology to facilitate payments of any size, frequency and complexity for their clients. Those utilising this technology already speak to benefits including enhanced peace of mind from an operational perspective as well as greater certainty that transactions will complete smoothly and quickly.
The Law Society of Scotland is trailblazing the way with their 2019 launch of a new specialism: an Accredited Legal Technologist. This proactive approach to embracing legal technology has created new career paths for people with titles including Legal Process Engineer, Legal Analyst and Legal Technologist which will change the landscape of the once very traditional legal industry.
Those that are reluctant to take notice of the huge advances being made within Legal tech will be left in the shadows.
So what does this mean?
Practicing law is one of the oldest professions in the world, and so tends to be rooted in tradition and conventional methods of operating. Recently however, we have seen the emergence of a whole new industry: Legaltech – dedicated to modernising and reshaping conventional legal practices to boost efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. Successful businesses – in any industry – focus on their core business offering(s) and outsource ancillary services to other companies for whom those activities are core services. This ensures a robust, high performing engine where businesses can scale and thrive in their primary sectors.
For law firms, this means leveraging available technologies to streamline processes and workflows where possible and outsourcing other activities to third party specialist providers where necessary – or just better placed. As with all industries, clients can (rightfully!) be demanding and have exacting standards. Legaltech platforms can offer increased transparency for lawyers and their clients alike, affording everyone the luxury of real-time access to information. This includes the all-important status of funds, meaning valuable time otherwise spent chasing these details can be spent focussing on other aspects that are key to successful completions.
As we move forward through time, past the pandemic and other temporary hurdles, what will remain is continuous evolution and growth across every industry on a global basis. This is especially true for the legal industry and it is those firms that adapt and adopt innovation that will thrive. Those that are reluctant to take notice of the huge advances being made within Legaltech will be left in the shadows.
Shieldpay is an escrow and Third-Party Managed Account (TPMA) service provider, authorised and regulated by the FCA as a Payment Institution in the United Kingdom. Serenity Law have partnered with Shieldpay as an alternative to holding client money within the business. Shieldpay adds an extra layer of security for our clients, who can rest assured that their payments are securely held through an AML-compliant FCA regulated provider, adding a greater layer of security protection.