6. New Ways of Legal Marketing
Marketing is an often overlooked and undervalued area that also changes rapidly due to changed customer behavior and expectation. Lawyers need to embark on new ways to „find“ clients. Old ways do not work anymore. However, must of the lawyers still utilize traditional approaches to advertise their business and to relate to their clients.
Lawyers often lack when it comes to the latest marketing gimmicks and trends. It is to hope that lawyers catch-up in 2018 and fret less about design trends and start, for example, focusing on their client’s experiences on their firm’s website. As legal keywords are the most expensive terms, lawyers will need to move away from overpriced PPC advertising, especially in large jurisdictions and highly-competitive practice area. This will force lawyers to invest time to produce content and thought-leadership. Law firms will abandon generic do-it-yourself platforms like WordPress, and seek systems that are designed for lawyers, by lawyers. Because s like auto accidents, medical malpractice and impaired driving. Lawyers will pay attention to online reviews, and consciously cultivate their online reputations.
7. How Lawyers learn and work
Exploring new ways of working and learning as a lawyer will also be a major trend in 2018.
Successful innovation often comes with a changed mindset and – to reflect this – a new way of working (together) and how teams are composed. Some law firms or legal departments already experimenting with open space concepts, co-working spaces and flexible desks. The way lawyers work still looks very homogenous: The single office prevails. There are rarely spaces for communication and coworking. Interestingly, a WeWork for lawyers does not really exist as of know. This is partly due to the professional regulation but also due to lack of trying new things. A single office is still perceived as a status symbol. Law firms still tend to be rather hierarchical.
As more and more firms and legal departments embark on a journey of digital transformation they realize that the need to add non-legal expertise to their talent tool. The legal industry is still – by and large- run by lawyers. Even the head of the IT department is often a lawyer. This has to change in order to tap into the expertise of people experienced with digital transformation. This will also require firms and legal departments to think about their hierarchical structure and their team composition in 2018.
We will also see a debate about how much technology, and what sort of tech syllabus, should be taught at law schools. Some universities press ahead with their new programs, such as Bucerius Law School or Harvard Law School.
Security issues will be paramount in 2018. As mobility and cloud computing overtake traditional desktop and paper file usage, security should be a great concern for the legal industry this year. Currently, there is no formal legal industry standard for security of data in the cloud available. Therefore, collaborating in a secure online environment will become increasingly more desirable in 2018 as email hacks and security breaches generally increase. Lawyers will seek more secure alternatives, with online communications portals viewed as one of the most viable and affordable options for securely sharing and communicating with clients.
It is also likely, and we hope not, that we will witness a major law-related security breach in 2018 as the legal industry does not pay enough attention to IT-security.
9. Smart Contracts
Another interesting area will be the emergence of smart contracts in 2018. The focus at the moment is on Fin Tech, but by the end of 2018 more law firms will be using smart contracts as a differentiator to offer their clients value-added services for lower fees. The cryptocurrency movement is beginning to gain more and more momentum – also due to gains of Bitcoin. As more and more people begin to familiarize themselves with the benefits of the technology, we can only expect it to pick up more steam. t is likely we start seeing effects of decentralized systems come to fruition perhaps sooner than we once thought even possible. Meanwhile, Legal Tech vendors will race to develop smart contract tools for lawyers, to fill the skill gap between legal professionals drafting agreements and developers writing blockchain code.
10. The Rise of VR and AR technology
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology is not entirely new. More recently, however, we have seen the introduction of new consumer headsets and other virtual experiences which can be of particular interest to the legal industry. It will be important that the legal industry, especially in the litigation arena, realizes the potential of these technologies.
For lawyers, the technologies can offer significant opportunities. The are multiple areas where AR and VR could be used:
- Training & Development: VR/AR could provide a learning and development function for lawyers. As an example, VR/AR could provide a virtual courtroom-like experience (complete with a judge and state attorney).
- Improved Evidence in Litigation: Judges could wear, for example, VR/AR devices to „see“ a crime scene in order to inspect and review pieces of evidence during a trial.
- Marketing: Used as a tool for marketing, VR/AR could provide potential clients with a virtual client experience regarding what it would be like to be a recipient of their services.
- Team Collaboration: Teams could use the technologies to interact with each other in virtual spaces to collaborate with each other without having to be all together in one physical location. An in-house compliance team could use AR/VR technology to create immersive training and safety programs for teams located around the world.
- Access to justice: AR/VR could also help to increase access to justice within the practice areas typically focused on underserved populations.
In 2018, we will see very interesting developments in different areas of legal technology which will help to accelerate the digital transformation of the legal industry. Some developments will take longer than others. Stakeholders will react very differently to the opportunities and risk described above. If more „innovation collaboration“ is achieved in the legal industry in 2018, this alone would be a great success.