A recent survey by US Legal Support offered a comprehensive overview and valuable insights into the state of technology in litigation. Some of the top considerations include a heightened emphasis on AI and automation, continuing remote work trends and a critical focus on cybersecurity. Here are some of the approaches firms are taking to improve efficiency, their tech spending priorities and other updates on the industry’s relationship with innovative resources.
How Law Firms are Spending on Technology
A little over 32% of survey respondents revealed that they plan to spend more on legal lech in 2024. Another 43% plan to spend the same amount as they did last year. Similarly, 44% stated that they will keep the same number of litigation support vendors as the previous year.
When it comes to where firms plan to spend money, the top services include:
- AI & machine Learning
- eBilling software & cost recovery tools
- Legal matter management systems
- Tools for eDiscovery & document review
- Data retrieval & management tools
The survey also looked at how members of the industry plan to select their vendors and found several factors, such as:
- Pricing fairness
- Availability of necessary talent or resources
- Delivery speed and vendor responsiveness
Spending patterns and plans in the industry demonstrate a commitment among most firms to leverage advanced technologies, whether at higher or consistent levels. Firms are also looking for successful partnerships with vendors that offer necessary solutions at reasonable prices.
Tech Themes in the Legal Industry
According to the results, there are three main technology themes for law firms, including AI and digital transformation, developments in remote work and cybersecurity.
AI and digital transformation
How to best incorporate artificial intelligence is a growing concern in nearly every industry. The legal world is no different. However, the survey found that professionals are less confident in their knowledge of this new technology. Just 5% of professionals stated that they were “extremely” familiar with AI, 17% reported being “very” familiar, while another 43% feel “somewhat” familiar.
While few in the legal industry report expertise in AI, firms are looking for ways to take advantage of these tools, and 25% expect to increase their use of AI in 2024. The top applications for AI this year are:
- Legal research (19%)
- Predictive analysis (15%)
- Document management (15%)
- Automating routine tasks (14%)
As for the benefits legal professionals expect AI to provide, efficiency for administrative tasks was the most often reported (45%). For firms, reducing the time professionals spend on administrative tasks translates into more time for billable hours and higher potential earnings. Another 35% are seeking to use the tools for cost reduction and 21% are hoping to leverage AI for better client experiences.
Despite a sense that AI can greatly benefit law firms, just 21% reported currently using AI. With that said, 46% agreed that such technology will be commonplace in the industry within the next 3-5 years.
Many of the firms that are ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting AI have put some safeguards in place to prevent misuse of these tools. For 38%, safeguards include human oversight, 36% are providing training and education, 30% vet their vendors and 21% already have company policies related to the use of AI.
Remote work and depositions
Although 44% of law firms have fully in-office policies, another 32% are hybrid, with 2-3 days in the office a week and 11% are fully remote.
Along with remote work for lawyers, the legal profession started carrying out remote depositions more frequently in recent years. Remote depositions offer several benefits, including ease of use, affordability and functionality. The survey indicates that firms plan to continue this practice. About 31% of firms even indicated that they will increase their use of remote depositions in 2024, while 46% plan to use the same number of remote depositions.
Cybersecurity in a legal industry with increased technology
Cybersecurity is critical for any industry, but for law firms that regularly handle confidential information, robust protections against data breaches and unauthorized access are especially important. Attorneys even have a professional rule that they must protect their clients’ sensitive and confidential information. With the rise in the use of technology, data security should be a top concern for all legal professionals.
Also, firms need to worry about the security of their own data while also being cautious when partnering with vendors. Vetting vendors for security standards and reviewing their SOC 2 reports are some ways firms work to protect their data, even when they’re working with other businesses.
According to the survey, most firms are taking data security seriously. The report states that 78% of firms have a data security policy in place, while 76% meet the latest security and privacy standards.
Partnering with Legal Tech Vendors
When it comes to choosing legal technology partners, finding companies that understand the industry’s unique concerns, efficiency expectations and privacy needs is vital. Verbit offers legal transcription solutions powered by AI but with careful human oversight to meet the demands of law firms and court reporting agencies. Reach out to learn more about partnering with Verbit.