The Legal Industry and a Snail’s Pace of Technology Adoption

Feb 4, 2021 4 min read

Using customer relationship management (CRM) tools, electronic payments, calendaring, notification services, e-filing, and even e-signing are some of the technologies law firms have been slow to adopt. The value is there—a fast way to move through documents and get more work turned around, saving time and money and bringing greater customer satisfaction. So why aren’t law firms adopting these tools in more significant numbers if it’s guaranteed to improve business? Historically, firms haven’t felt much pressure to change habits or implement new tools, but the pandemic changed that fast.

Is It the Same Internationally?

China started a smartphone-based “Cyber-Court” system in 2016. This initiative prepared China’s legal system well for new technologies such as e-filing, artificial intelligence (AI) automation and video conferencing. Furthermore, consumerization efforts have made it possible to predict a case’s outcome in the court just by providing basic information about dispute details, court, and judge’s name. The plaintiffs can then make an informed decision on whether or not they should proceed, considering the cost and time required. The system can also automatically generate documents for litigants to submit to the court, including complaints, answers, counter-complaints, application for objection to jurisdiction and more.

gavel and laptop

How have courts responded to the pandemic?

When it comes to access, the pandemic directly affected most countries and courts shutting down operations before the courts were able to find ways to use technology to maintain access to the legal system. That said, the Supreme Court has moved to a telephone conferencing-based system, while other courts turned to CourtCall, Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber and Zoom, allowing lawyers to participate in court hearings remotely.

What roles will AI and ML play in the legal sector?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) coupled with Machine Learning (ML) can discover patterns and correlations within the data that a human eye could not detect without a significant investment of time and experience. This technology is being deployed across the legal field in various ways, such as identifying tasks and workflows that need to be initiated.

ABC Legal has more than 300 million models running daily for its service of process operations, predicting everything from service rates and service probabilities to the best time to reach defendants at the address provided. Docketly also uses ML to determine how easy or hard it will be to hire appearance counsel to meet your needs.

How does technology impact client and customer relationships?

The legal industry is no different than any other business trying to nurture and foster relationships with their customers. You might have hundreds of interactions and touchpoints made through direct messaging, phone calls, email, social channels, and newsletters. We must view these customer interactions as a living and ever-changing process that matters and holds value. In these uncertain times, technology can support a transformation of the legal industry, helping keep people better connected than ever before. Here are 10 ways law firms can start using technology to improve client relationships right now.

How can lawyers use emerging technologies in their day-to-day operations?

The use of e-filing ensured that people could get their day in court, but those still using paper-processing are far behind in their caseload and adding more to it all the time. Meanwhile, legal technology service providers like ABC Legal have successfully filed more than three million documents, averaging 60,000 e-filings per month, including case initiation documents, alias summons, amended complaints, wage garnishments, stipulation packages, motions and orders, and proofs of service.

In addition, robotic-process automation (RPA) which sounds complicated, is really a fairly simple way of helping people be more efficient using tools and technologies that sit on their desktops recording their actions and activities. 

RPA allows anyone to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process. RPA robots utilize the user interface to capture data and manipulate applications just like people do sans human error. They interpret, trigger responses and communicate with other systems in order to perform on a vast variety of repetitive tasks. 

For instance, many legal professionals are still taking data from one system and manually moving it to another because the systems aren’t integrated or don’t have Application Programming Interface (API) — a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other much like the apps used everyday by millions such as Facebook, instant messaging, or weather updates.

These RPA tools allow users to identify, clock and record the actions taken on their desktop, and then play them back to repeatedly run the robotic process at a very high speed without actually having to perform the work. The computer does the job 100 times faster than a human, drastically increasing the individual’s productivity.

These are just two of the innovative technologies being used to make the legal profession run faster, better and more accurately than ever before.

About ABC Legal Services

ABC Legal is the nation’s leading service of process and court filing company and is the official process server to the U.S. Department of Justice. Docketly is a subsidiary of ABC Legal, providing appearance counsel on a digital, custom-built platform that smoothly integrates with our applications and services. ABC Legal’s applications are cloud-based and compatible for use on desktop, browser, and smartphones. Our solutions and digital approach ensure process server partners, law firm customers, and their clients save valuable time and resources when serving legal notices safely and with maximum compliance, control, and transparency. ABC Legal is based in Seattle, WA, with more than 2,000 process servers throughout the U.S., as well as internationally in more than 75 countries. To learn more about ABC Legal, our solutions, and subsidiary company Docketly, visit www.abclegal.com.

Sascha Mehlhase

Written by

Sascha Mehlhase
Vice President of Growth at ABC Legal. Sascha oversees ABC Legal’s growing product, marketing and customer success teams to transform ABC Legal into the best-in-class technology and service industry leader, while finding new ways to scale. With 20 years of experience in technology, he has advanced product strategies and led global teams in many industries.

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