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Legal Technology

2020 Legal Market Report: How Innovative Technology is Reshaping the Business & Practice of Law

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

A report from OpenText & Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor examines how the pressure to adopt innovative technology is being felt by in-house & outside counsel

If the traditional practice of law were a kitchen appliance, it would be a slow cooker with a few basic settings that got the job done… eventually. It would then bill you for every hour it was plugged in, and insist that the wait and the cost were well worth it for you.

It would also simultaneously insist that no one could do what the slow cooker can, despite you seeing the ads for appliances that were faster, cheaper, and equally effective.

Appliance allegories aside (for the moment), the intense pressure that both corporate law departments and law firms are facing to find faster, cheaper ways of achieving the same results is tilting the legal industry heavily toward finding ways to solve this problem. In fact, the industry might be moving toward what could be called an “Instant Pot” approach to legal services — one that prioritizes speed and efficiency, and seeks to deliver a variety of different legal services equally well, at a lower cost, with no compromise in quality.

In the newly released 2020 Legal Market Report: How Innovative Technology is Reshaping the Business and Practice of Law, published jointly by OpenText and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, we examine how this pressure is moving in-house departments and their outside counsel to look concretely has the vital need for innovative technology adoption to get their job done.

And while there were certainly no shortage of cultural and economic forces driving this transformation before, now the pace of this transformation is being accelerated by the coronavirus outbreak and the economic devastation brought by the global pandemic. Now, for example, it’s not just about getting faster and cheaper, but also about maintaining productivity and minimizing business disruption.

A recent Thomson Reuters survey cited in the report shows that 64% of law firm leaders cited “insufficient leveraging of technology” as a medium-to-high risk factor for profitability; and 91% of leaders expect to use technology to cut costs. No surprise then that these rapid advances in technology — and the capabilities new technology enables — are a key factor in how law firms and corporate law departments see the future of legal services delivery.

The report notes that there are several key factors pressuring legal service organizations to up their technological game and divided those factors into three categories: data, competition, and security.

For example, a large majority of legal industry leaders said that using some combination of data analysis and technology to control costs in both law departments and law firms is now seen as a top priority. This indicates that these leaders more fully recognize the need for such legal tech adoption, and better grasp the advantages that these innovations can provide.


Further, in this era of exponentially expanding technical capabilities, the tools are already readily available. It is now possible to perform many routine legal functions in a fraction of the time needed for a more traditional approach. Many expensive, time-consuming activities such as data collection, eDiscovery, compliance reporting, and general research can now be done using far fewer work-hours, and in some cases can be partially if not fully automated. New technology solutions also enable more efficient processes for managing case matters, billing, lawyer collaboration, client communications and feedback, and other everyday concerns.

As the report demonstrates, the pressure that corporate law departments and law firms are facing to “adapt or die” is well founded. Because the benefits so profoundly outweigh the risks, finding technological solutions to legal management problems has become a competitive necessity, and when done successfully, can be a differentiator to place your legal team ahead of the competition.

Too often, however, the law has historically lagged behind other businesses and professions when it comes to adopting new technology. But given today’s rapidly changing legal marketplace, now accelerating even faster because of the global pandemic, the legal industry needs to become an Instant Pot® that can do anything a slow-cooker can and more, five times faster, because it uses more advanced, innovative technology.

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