The Rise of The Digital Lawyer
Words by Alex Moores of Leap Legal Software
Technology and innovation continues to drive change and none more so than in the legal profession. Times have moved on since the days when lawyers would be noticed dashing out of a law firm carrying a laptop in one hand and furiously typing on a BlackBerry device in their other. As hardware moves on, so does software, and lawyers now find themselves at a stage where the lines between work and leisure are so blurred that they now have the choice to work wherever they like. They may even find themselves lying on a beach and dealing with their legal matters from an iPad if they chose to – this is now a reality. This is all thanks to the latest cloud-based practice management software which can enable a lawyer to work anywhere at a time that suits them. Software has been miniaturised to the point that the modern-day digital lawyer can run a law practice from their smartphone! How so, you say? Well, the latest practice management software is so innovative that it uses the benefits of the cloud to provide a go-anywhere centralised hub that a lawyer can plug into at any time to retrieve or work on their matters from whatever device that suits them at the time.
Yes, there are some lawyers that are slower or more resistant to adopting mobile technology but this is changing as they realise the virtues of features such as time recording on the move, tracking billable time, accessing documents, communication, accessing calendars, dictation for meetings away from the office and scanning documents directly into their phones. Also, being able to generate documents there and then that their clients can sign immediately without the need to wait and having a secure environment where they can communicate and collaborate with their clients.
The fact is that mobility is becoming less about choice now and more about being essential in order to keep up with the pace that everyday life and moreover the legal profession is now moving at. As younger lawyers enter the profession, they are also bringing this technology with them as they become more accustomed to it from an earlier age.
The very nature of mobile technology lends itself much better to real life and provides the ability to log in and out of your office at any time and have better flexibility about how you handle the ever flowing inbox of emails or the client matters that seem to constantly appear.
Client confidentiality is still key for law firms and the cloud-based practice management systems can actually offer better security than many of the local servers and IT infrastructures that law firms use for their data.
Some lawyers have even taken mobile technology to the next stage and have virtual law firms. Taking bold steps into the future, they have abandoned the more traditional bricks and mortar law firms and opted for an online presence only. Of course, this is not preferable for every law firm and does have certain drawbacks; however, it does go a long way to show how far the profession has been evolved by digital technology. They also offer advantages such as reduced overheads, no need for one central location and, obviously, all round mobility.
While virtual offices are still a minority, the very similar sounding mobile law firms are popping up everywhere and proving very popular within the legal profession. Somewhat of a hybrid option, mobile law firms still have physical offices but you don’t have to actually physically be in them to be able to work. With the right cloud-based technology, they offer the convenience and flexibility to work securely from anywhere at anytime. In 2017, most lawyers were mobile or telecommuting lawyers. The main tasks they carry out online are practice management-based.
The fact is, whether we like it or not, mobility is transforming the way we all work.
So, with mobile devices as mere portals to the cloud-based law firm. It seems that the invasion of mobile technology is now here to stay in the legal profession. However, that’s not without distinct advantages that go beyond just saving paper. It means that the modern digital lawyer can now make the law firm work around their lifestyle, instead of being a slave to the demands that running a law firm entails. It means that the modern lawyer can enjoy a cold drink while keeping a watchful eye on their firm with a device as compact as a smartphone, without the need to move from that well-earned spot on the beach.
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