Since 2020, many law firms have changed the way they operate in order to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This led them to discover new capabilities and opportunities that will transform the way legal services are delivered in 2022 and beyond.
Here are four legal trends will dominate the legal sector this year:
Continued use of cloud technologies
A majority of law firms adopted cloud technologies to adapt to the stay-at-home orders during the onset of the pandemic.
- 85% of law firms used some form of cloud software to manage their practice.
- 83% held online client meetings.
- 79% stored company data in the cloud.
- 73% accepted online payments.
- 62% supported electronic signatures and documents.
The law firms that adopted cloud technologies collected 40% more revenue per lawyer than firms that didn’t, even during COVID-19 surges. Clients also benefited from using cloud technologies. With electronic signatures, for example, clients no longer had to be physically present to sign documents or scan and email a signed paper document.
Unsurprisingly, Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report found that 95% of law firms plan to continue using these technologies even beyond the pandemic. In 2022, cloud usage will become the norm in the legal industry.
Clients’ openness to remote legal services
In Clio’s 2018 Legal Trends Report, only 23% of surveyed respondents were willing to work remotely with a lawyer. But in their 2021 report, 79% of respondents said that the option to work remotely with a lawyer would positively impact their decision to hire that attorney. However, this does not mean clients want a fully remote legal experience. Instead, 67% said they want a lawyer who offers both in-person and remote options.
Among different communication channels (e.g., in-person meeting, phone call, email, and video conferencing), video conferencing was preferred by more than half of the respondents while working with a lawyer throughout the duration of their legal matter. But for the first meeting or consultation, most people still prefer in-person meetings. Moreover, people are increasingly becoming open to text messaging, secure portals, mobile apps, and other forms of communication.
Given this shift in client expectations, law firms will invest in more remote communication options. They will also increasingly integrate remote communication across the client journey. Furthermore, law firms will take advantage of remote legal services to expand their reach and work with a wider variety of clients in 2022.
Reduced spending on office space
With the shift toward remote and hybrid working arrangements in 2020 and 2021, more and more law firms will move into smaller office spaces or coworking office facilities in 2022. Some will even completely give up their physical office space in favor of fully virtual legal services. Such new office arrangements will lead to significant cost savings on rent and allow for increased profitability.
Greater reliance on third-party service providers
Client satisfaction will be shaped by the adoption of advanced technologies by law firms, but it will still largely depend on how lawyers perform and serve their clients. This is why firms will find more ways to give their lawyers more free time to focus on higher-value work. One way is by outsourcing generalized processes and functions, such as scanning documents, summarizing cases, drafting pleadings, and obtaining records.
Read also: Why your law firm should consider legal process outsourcing
By partnering with a third-party records specialist, law firms no longer have to reach out to multiple record custodians and learn their respective processes for releasing records. They are also spared from having to follow up on order requests and checking if the records they received are correct and complete.
With Record Retrieval Solutions (RRS), specifically, law firms are able to get the medical records they need quickly and more easily — within 16 days on average. On RRS’s online portal, law firms can submit record requests, check order status, and download the requested documents once these are available.
Interested to learn more about RRS’s services? Get in touch with us today.