Application Programming Interface – or APIs, in simplistic terms is a platform that allows different pieces of software or applications to communicate with one another. These applications use and exchange data sources with the purpose of enhancing productivity, enabling digital innovation, and driving revenue.
Chances are most of us have interacted with an application using API without even knowing it. Apps like Uber, ApplePay, PayPal, Alexa, eBay – all use some form of API as an interface with the consumer.
In a digital world, APIs are essential to enable seamless operations. And in order to obtain optimal and automated business processes and procedures, through the interaction and sharing of critical data – organisations will need to consider API integration.
The ability for applications to communicate with each other will enhance the seamless sharing of data and provides a new level of flexibility in information and service delivery.
Legal industry and APIs – an unconventional partnership
The legal industry has been known to be more resistant to change compared to others. As a result, they are seen to be slower when it comes to the adoption of new technology.
But the world is changing.
Industries are using APIs to futureproof their businesses and the legal industry is no different.
Customers today want the convenience provided by APIs. Some legal firms have begun building their own client facing applications and soon, if not already, customers will demand a single interface to access legal advice and support. They would not want to use multiple applications to fulfill a legal need – for example one for verification of identity, another for document submission.
Employees could also benefit from the efficiencies presented with the use of APIs – this can range from automating labour-intensive activities such as document reviews, to the safe and secure way of transferring information between customer and legal practitioner. As newly minted lawyers enter the profession, there’s a growing expectation that technology will be on hand to aid them in their everyday operations.
Creating an environment rich in productivity just means that existing applications are going to have to talk to each other more than they are now – which makes API integrations an integral part of legal tech.
Data driven business growth
APIs are rich in data that could help in understanding the consumer more – potentially opening up additional revenue opportunities. Every interaction with the customer and legal documentation has the potential to provide valuable data that could help firms retain their clientele and help their employees in better delivering their services.
Good data allows organisations to make better decisions – creating baselines, benchmarks and aiding in the setting of targets, providing an opportunity for growth. Data is one of the most valuable assets an organisation can have, that could impact its long-term success.
To become a modern-day, customer focused organisation, legal firms need to be in a position where they can leverage their technologies and gain visibility on their data.
Cyber security considerations
As the recent Optus breach proves, APIs themselves need to be cyber secure.
The use of APIs has grown rapidly with many organisations choosing to use them because of their obvious benefits. But organisations need to exercise the right cyber security considerations such as:
- ensuring a proper security protocol
- keeping an account of all available APIs
- imposing a strict assignment of rights and permissions
- ensuring authentication is used
- validating the data inputs
- encryption and controlling the amount of data or information required.
Cyber security in general can be overwhelming for small to medium sized businesses. And with the increasing number of cyber-attacks today, businesses may need to consider an external cyber consultant or provider to protect themselves.
Legal tech today and tomorrow
Considering the demands for digitisation, automation, efficiency, productivity and data, APIs need to be a part of the roadmap for every organisation wanting to exist in the digital world.
As legal tech providers continue to advance, the technology and capability on offer will continue to flourish. Legal firms will have the ability to choose the right technology that will encourage adaptability to support the ever-changing needs of the business, flexibility that supports connection with products and platforms as well as the accessibility of data. APIs are now the new norm – legal firms will need to not only ensure that the technology is integrated and data rich – but cyber safe as well.