In recent years, many industries have been changed for the better by document management software and the increased efficiency for which it allows. In 2017, there is perhaps no industry that will see as many positive impacts from legal document management software as the law profession itself. From private practice lawyers to large multi-partner law firms, document management technology will go a long way toward boosting legal industry revenues and improving overall customer service in 2017. Looking for specifics? Read on for a few of our legal document management software-related predictions for 2017.
2017 Legal Document Management Software Trends
Lawyers will be able to log more billable hours
Perhaps no term gets tossed around as often in the offices of a major law firm than “billable hour.” The billable hour has been the standard price model for law firms for as long as most current lawyers have been practicing law. Recently, there’s been a bit of a buzz about the “death of the billable hour,” and about firms switching to a fixed-price billing system.
(The fixed price system would see law firms charging a lump sum for any given matter, essentially predicting how much time and effort they would expend on given cases.) In the future, such a system could be viable. For 2015, though, the blog Disrupt Legal predicts “the billable hour will not go away.”
So what does that prediction mean for lawyers? Essentially, it means another year of trying to figure out how to bill more client hours—all without sacrificing quality of legal services or destroying any semblance of work-life balance. Document management software can help with that goal.
By making case files more accessible and easier to browse, and by cutting down on filing time, DMS can help lawyers increase their efficiency and decrease the time they’re spending on menial tasks. That exchange leaves more time to spend on cases, which in turn leads to more billable hours.
Firms will be able to provide better service
In addition to freeing up time to bill more hours, legal document management software will enable firms to improve the quality and timeliness of their legal advice in 2017.
Instead of having to go back to the firm’s file room to dig through documents looking for case files or legal precedents, cloud-based DMS will give litigators access to their files from anywhere—be it a home computer or a mobile device.
Pair this cloud-based access with full-text search capabilities and optical character recognition, and firms will be able to search their entire libraries of files quickly and efficiently to provide better service to their clients.
Artificial intelligence will play a role in law firm success, but will not replace lawyers
With so many different jobs being automated away or taken over by robots, there has understandably been chatter about how much of a role artificial intelligence will play in the future of law.
Most legal experts, though—from the preceding Disrupt Legal to the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute—seem to be in agreement that artificial intelligence and “computational law” will not start taking away Lawyer jobs in 2017, but legal practitioners must become more efficient through technology use. Instead, intelligence systems like legal document management software will form the perfect balance between human instinct and computer efficiency.
From establishing workflows for business process management to automating document retention policies, all the way to using content analytics to predict case outcomes, artificial intelligence will play a role in the legal industry in 2017. Luckily, it will always be working in service of lawyers and law firms to make work easier.
There will be major cyber security threats
Unfortunately, any predictions for a new year have to include a negative point or two alongside the more positive speculation. For 2016, the legal industry’s biggest downside will likely come in the form of cyber security threats.
With so many different types of organizations hacked and breached in 2016—from retailers to government branches—it’s hardly surprising that the Thomson Reuters article linked above predicts a cyber security breach for a major firm in the year that followed. The good news, though, is that such a breach would likely wake other firms up to the threats of operating in the information age, and would spur the development or implementation of smarter and more comprehensive cyber security measures.
Document management software can help with firm security as well. eFileCabinet, for instance, provides 256-bit AES encryption for all files—as well as user-based securities and redundant storage—to prevent unauthorized access or catastrophic data losses. The eFileCabinet system also features SecureDrawer, an advanced client portal that offers much more secure communication with clients than email, fax, or snail mail can possibly hope to provide.
By taking full advantage of legal document management software technology, law firms will be able to plug the holes that can lead to leaks—hopefully taking themselves off the list of firms that could be hit by a major cyber security breach this year.
Try eFileCabinet Today.
Do you want to take advantage of the benefits that document management software can bring to your law firm or legal practice in 2016? Try out eFileCabinet today, by heading to our homepage (www.efilecabinet.com) and clicking the “Free Demo” tab on the left-hand side of the page!