The legal sector is undoubtedly an important part of the UK economy. In 2011, it contributed £20.9bn to GPD, making the UK the biggest legal market in Europe. In order to not only maintain but also improve on this impressive achievement, however, the legal sector must continuously look for innovative ways to improve efficiency.

IT can provide the legal sector with such innovative solutions – and legal firms are beginning to recognise this. Recently, there has been a great deal of focus on IT investment by law firms. As a result, we are seeing a variety of technologies being implemented across the industry.

For example, the legal sector is increasingly turning to automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve efficiency and productivity, and to reduce costs. In September, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), for instance, became the first law firm sign up to RAVN’s Applied Cognitive Engine (ACE). RAVN’s ACE is an AI solution that extracts and distils data from documents. BLP will use the technology to reduce the time it takes to search Land Registry documents in order to issue light obstruction notices – although the firm has plans to roll out the technology across the whole firm.

Similarly, Jimoh Ovbiagele has created a voice recognition app called ROSS Intelligence in order to reduce the amount of time that lawyers need to spend on legal research – a task which attorney’s reportedly spend a fifth of their working hours on.  

Ross – which works just like Apple’s Siri or Android’s Cortana – allows users to ask it the types of questions that clients might ask, like “If an employee fails to complete the essentials of their employment, can they be terminated without notice?” Ross then generates an answer by searching through its database of legal documents. The answer is given a ‘confidence rating’, and below the answer is a list of source documents, so that lawyers can verify the information.

Ovbiagele believes that this app is a huge improvement over current research databases, which rely heavily on keyword search. Not only is the process much quicker, but since the app learns from user feedback, Ross can become smarter over time, allowing it to become a seamless extension of the lawyer’s own mind.

In addition to automation and AI, law firms are also increasingly turning to mobile technologies, creating an unprecedentedly mobile and flexible workforce.

Whilst mobility undeniably offers a huge range of benefits to law firms, it also offers a great number of challenges. For example, whereas previously lawyers were armed with nothing more than a company BlackBerry and a company laptop, nowadays we are seeing an increase in other devices, such as iPhones and tablets, as well as rise in ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) phenomenon. These two factors are making it increasingly difficult for IT departments to remain in control.

Moreover, the rise of mobile has brought with it a whole host of security concerns. Since lawyers work primarily with incredibly sensitive information, and since they are required to uphold lawyer-client confidentiality, many firms are worried about the security of mobile devices and the Cloud – despite the fact that it is widely believed that the Cloud is more secure than the on-site infrastructure at most firms.

For these reasons, it is important that law firms have secure systems in place so that they can benefit from the impact of technology while remaining secure and compliant.

Trustmarque have helped many companies in several industries become more mobile and agile, including a number in the legal sector. To find out how we can help your organisation, contact us on 0845 2101 500 and talk to one of our experts.

Image courtesy of Tori Rector