The legal industry has changed significantly over the last few decades. Gone are the days when legal services were delivered solely by high-powered lawyers sitting behind shiny wooden desks and mountains of paperwork. Today’s legal services industry actually bears little resemblance to the legal services industry of days past.
While legal work is likely to continue to evolve in new and unexpected ways, here are just a few of the main things you can expect to see from the future of the legal services industry.
It’s not just about law firms any more. While law firms will always play a major role in providing legal services, they’re no longer the only major player in the legal services industry. Alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) are increasingly gaining prominence, particularly as clients have been pushing back against paying high law firm rates. Especially in the areas of routine or high-volume legal work, like discovery or contract drafting, ALSPs are having a significant impact on how work is delegated in the legal services industry.
It’s not just about lawyers any more. Whether you’re working with a law firm or an ALSP, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll only have lawyers handling your work. As technology continues to evolve and integrate itself into the legal services industry (more on that in a bit), legal service providers will be looking to hire legal technology specialists, data engineers, and project managers in increasing numbers.
The billable hour is no longer king. Historically, law firms have built their entire business models around the billable hour. Nonetheless, just as law firms are no longer the only major players in the legal services industry, the billable hour is no longer the only acceptable billing model. In fact, many clients are actively seeking out alternative billing arrangements as legal bills based on billable hours have mushroomed. Today, more and more legal service providers are billing clients on contingency, per-case, or per-project basis’.
Technology is everywhere. Few things have changed the face of the legal services industry as much as the advent of technology. AI and machine learning are streamlining processes and making many tasks that have historically been incredibly time-consuming much more efficient. Today’s lawyers are also mobile, relying on smartphones, mobile devices, and apps to get their work done, rather than the traditional desk-and-telephone workplace. Simply put, any provider that wants to excel in the legal services industry will have to be willing to fully embrace technology.
Data is at the center of it all. As technology has evolved, it has created voluminous amounts of data, and new forms of data are constantly emerging. Case files no longer consist solely of paper and PDFs. Everything about today’s legal services industry is data-centric, from eDiscovery to business procedures to client development. Legal service providers will need to invest in data storage, data privacy measures, and data analytics if they want to continue providing legal services in the future.
Client demands will shape the future of the market. Once upon a time, solid legal skills and a good reputation were all it took to land new business and retain clients. While those things still matter today, clients are looking for more. Specifically, clients are demanding innovation and cost-savings from their legal service providers. The legal services industry is highly competitive and will likely only become more so in the coming years, so legal service providers need to be prepared to be on the cutting-edge of technology and innovative solutions if they want to retain clients and beat the competition.
Veritext is a recognized industry leader in providing technology-driven litigation and court reporting services. With a proven track record for supplying the most cutting-edge solutions in the legal services industry, Veritext has the tools you need to succeed in the future. Contact us today to learn more.