industry trends

6 ways legal is changing for the better

In an industry that has always seemed pretty set in its ways, many will be happy to hear that the legal industry is gaining some flexibility. Whether you are a lawyer, teach law students, are in law school, develop legal software, work with lawyers, or are married to one, this article will get you excited about the ways legal is changing for the better. 

1. People are getting infected with the innovation bug earlier than ever before

New York Law School recently unveiled the Innovation Center for Law and Technology which will serve as a forum for law students, legal practitioners, entrepreneurs, and tech users. It hopes to be a focal point for NYC to embrace the growing innovation economy— quite a big step for the “new law” paradigm.

This includes more than a pump-up song to embrace legal technology, though. 

The Center is hoping to transform the school’s Institute for Information Law and Policy while also adding relevant initiatives such as:

  • Intellectual Property Institute
  • Online Privacy Project
  • Community Entrepreneurship Institute
  • Fashion Law Initiative
  • and more!

Hopefully, NYLS will set the trend and get other law schools on board to embrace the innovation happening right before our eyes.

2. 96% of law firms think innovation is important

The legal world as we have always known it to exist includes 60-80 hour work weeks, lack of deviation from day-to-day procedures, and paper pushing. A recent study surveyed 140 law firms of all sizes and revealed 96% think innovation is important and concluded that collective trained conservatism will hold the profession back in terms of innovation and partnership structures that have the potential to act as an “innovation killer.”

Lawyers are comparing technological innovation to the Internet of the early 90s. At first, it seemed clunky or something just for techies to handle, but look where it has taken us.

Now, Financial Review reports that the most important thing for law firms to be doing right now is hiring coders and Generation Y graduates who can see the changes coming before the older generations can.

3. Businesses are learning (slowly but surely)  that what legal agreements say and how accessible they are does matter 

Online security company, AVG® Technologies, released a one-page online privacy policy as a way to provide first-time customers with the opportunity to be notified of AVG’s commitment to their users via comprehensible text. They are receiving quite a bit of flack about the details of their privacy policy, but they are putting it out there for everyone to see. First things first.

That’s better than Safeway’s situation where they are dealing with a class action lawsuit because of failure to update online agreements when there were changes concerning their grocery delivery service.

4. Having the best technology available is being considered an ethical must

When law firms first started implementing legal software, it was considered an “add-on” to the already tiresome work involved with case-procedures. Now,  sources are saying "there is a good argument that lawyers are ethically obligated to use the best technology available. Smart technology use provides efficiencies that allow lawyers to do the best job possible in a short time.”

Firms who are hesitant to implement technology are not only failing to protect and advance their practice, but also run a real risk of falling behind.

5. Implementing the best practices of technology is saving people in the long-run

Instead of creating legal documents, seeing if they work, then doing damage control when they undoubtedly fail your company, law firms and legal counsel are encouraging their clients to check out online agreement best practices from the get-go. As they should! 

Recently, Lyft stifled a class-action from their drivers who claimed the company didn't pay them promised bonuses. What saved them? Providing their contracted drivers with conspicuous notice of their Terms of Service.

6. Lawyers are finally moving towards more of a life-work balance 

One of the most rigid professions around is finally beginning to find flexibility. Actually using legal innovation, such as using arbitration provisions online and other technological services like cloud computing and data storage, is lessening the load for lawyers. With legal automation only making the future brighter, lawyers will have more time for...a life.   

Having a life is good! And remembering to provide yourself with the necessities and maintain a life-work balance is even better. You know...water, showers, lunch breaks, vacation, and time with your family. Law firms increasing awareness about the culture of overworking that takes place at firms and building “work-from-home” capabilities is definitely a start. 


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