Digital business models for lawyers and law firms supported by legal tech software

The topic of legal tech is becoming more and more prevalent, which is why you as a lawyer or legal professional have probably already heard about it.

The voices commenting on it range from tech enthusiasts to tech criticizers, that all pertain that no law firm or lawyer will be able to get by in the future without the support of legal tech. Law firms themselves are increasingly complaining that the pressure on them to deliver more results faster with fewer and fewer resources is growing.

I’m still not interested in technology. After all, I studied law and not IT.

Are you therefore asking yourself whether you only have to deal with legal tech because you want to survive on the legal market in the future? Our answer is: not necessarily!

If technology is foreign to you, you as a lawyer can focus entirely on cultivating deeper relationships with fewer clients and concentrate primarily on court litigation in areas of law that are still little digitized, such as family law. If this is your strength, you will probably be able to stay busy for decades to come.

But just then, you too can find many useful legal tech tools that will make your job easier.

You may find that legal tech has been your companion for a long time after all.

Do you use law firm software? Do you have a law firm website with a contact form so new potential clients can contact you directly?

Do you use databases like Beck-Online to search for laws and court decisions?

Are you out and about on legal portals and attorney platforms to attract clients there? Do you use attorney mailbox BeA? Or do you maintain your own collection of briefs and templates that you keep updated to refer back to as needed?

Congratulations, you are already using legal tech and probably have been for many years!

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From our perspective, the question should be: What can legal tech do for me if I don’t want to deal with each client individually and instead think bigger?

If I want to be entrepreneurial and sell less of my time and more legal products to a potentially unlimited number of clients? Or if I like client service, but simply want to make my firm’s processes more efficient so that I can eliminate tedious and content-less tasks, leaving me more time for value-added activities that I enjoy?

We think that’s the best approach to legal tech

Because that’s exactly the purpose of legal tech – to optimize legal services and processes using technical digital means so that they run as efficiently as possible in the shortest possible time.

Law, legal services, advice, justice and law concept. Male lawyer in the office with brass scale.

What exactly lies behind the term “legal tech” is the subject of debate.

Legal technology (the more common abbreviation is legal tech) refers to the area of information technology that deals with the automation of legal activities. The goal is to increase the efficiency of legal work. (Source: Wikipedia)

Furthermore Wikipedia differentiates between:

Legal Technology 1.0 – Traditional solutions

Established IT systems for digital document management, software for office organization and legal databases for legal research such as Beck-Online

Legal Technology 2.0 – Legal Tech of today

Automated legal services – applications that perform individual work steps instead of the lawyer, such as document selection, automatic creation of legal documents, automated legal services like the online service Flightright

Legal Technology 3.0 – Future

Smart contracts and artificial intelligence – IT solutions that enable not only individual work steps or simple, narrowly defined legal services to be handled autonomously, but also entire processes to be carried out by the user.

More important than a precise definition or classification is what exactly legal tech does and where it can add value for lawyers and clients. We would roughly divide the areas into internal and external. Internal ones are processes in a law firm that are not visible to the client, but which permeate the way lawyers work and make them more efficient. The external processes, on the other hand, are aimed directly at the clients.

How law firms are seizing new opportunities with software solutions

The optimization of work processes brings advantages in many areas, opening up greater scope and new business models for the firm in terms of time, organization and finances.

Internal processes of a law firm

The digitization of internal processes includes aspects such as digital file management (law firm software), knowledge databases, automated document analysis and document creation, or internal process automation in case processing.

The optimization of internal processes is the focus of “traditional” law firms, which place a lot of value on individual client relationships and want to save time on administrative and recurring activities in contrast. It is therefore always a good idea to start with internal processes when it comes to digitization.

External processes of a law firm

In the case of external processes, legal tech could be used in client acquisition through lawyer portals and with the help of digital marketing tools, or individual products are even offered to the client (or the consumer), which in turn range from legal advice at the click of a button or through a chatbot to intelligent contract templates.

External processes are at the forefront of innovative law firms that want to reach clients in new ways, transform traditional legal services and business models, and bring their services to the legal market as mass products.

Our experience shows that not every one of these concepts, which are aimed in particular at an unlimited number of clients or consumers, is actually adopted by them. This approach to legal tech in law firms therefore harbors more risk potential than the optimization of internal processes invisible to existing clients.

There are many ways to use legal tech in your own law firm and or in your legal work. The possibilities range from innovative ideas and in-house developments to ready-made and already existing software solutions.

What is the best way to proceed with the selection?

The first and easiest way from our point of view means:

1. First determine where within internal processes the potential for optimization is greatest.

2. Use a proven, already existing software solution that can close this gap. Existing software tools in particular offer a good mix of flexibility and adaptability to your own processes on the one hand and inexpensive and fast implementation on the other.

There is now a wide range of software solutions that can support lawyers well in their daily work. Below we bring an overview of some categories of legal tech software applications, which especially belong to the legal tech 2.0 area and are best suited for use in law firms.

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Legal tech tools will be a natural part of everyday law firm life in a few years.

Currently, there are these types of legal tech software that support and relieve you in various areas of your work:

Document Analysis & eDiscovery

Automated document analysis programs help law firms sift through large amounts of data on large contracts and, through artificial intelligence solutions, quickly find results that would have taken a lawyer a long time to find by hand. eDiscovery (electronic discovery) solutions help locate, secure, and search data in civil or criminal cases.

Document automation

Document automation, the process of quickly creating standardized documents and contracts, is a core part of legal tech for lawyers. Document automation software can specifically support lawyers in offering digital legal products, so that the creation of general terms and conditions, wills, employment contracts, etc. can be performed faster and more cost-effectively without replacing quality with quantity.

Workflow Software

Workflow software is becoming increasingly important in the legal tech sector. With its help, it is not only possible to automate individual areas, such as document creation, but entire workflows can be mapped and automated. Especially in mass proceedings (OWi, air passenger rights, diesel scandal, etc.), the use of workflow software is essential for law firms and legal tech companies today.

Legal Chatbots

Currently, there are not yet many legal chatbots or providers of specialized chatbots for law firms in Germany. However, with a look at the USA and Great Britain, this is likely to change in the future. Well-known legal chatbots, such as DoNotPay (e.g. parking tickets, flight cancellations, visas), BillyBot (RA & mediator search) or Visabot (US visas) already help thousands of clients here every day to enforce their rights or obtain legal information. But also in this country, law firms are increasingly implementing simple chatbots that welcome visitors to the law firm website.

(The overview is partly taken from the portal

Test automation with ShakeSpeare on our test platform.

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