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Innovation and Tech

Is technology in the legal sector here to stay?

By Lisa Dowie, Chief Customer Officer, PEXA • Dec 2022

COVID-19 has shaken up the world immeasurably. The pandemic has been the catalyst for a perfect innovative storm across various industries, driving many to more deeply embrace technology.

The legal industry has been no exception. But there have been tangible gains – a Global Legal Technology Report conducted in May this year by ALTA proved that the adoption of legal tech had a net positive impact on client retention and revenue. Approximately 59% of respondents admitted that lockdowns were positive for business. Social distancing measures in place during the pandemic created a platform for legal companies to leverage digital solutions to encourage connection, sustain productivity, not unlike other organisations.

This trend is unsurprising. People, clients and employees crave digitisation today. From shopping from the comfort of your couch, paying bills online, tracking parcels enroute for delivery to staying in contact with friends and family around the world – nearly everything can be done digitally. More and more legal firms have been open to legal tech, and for some, COVID was a true fire-starter.

And we’ve seen this happen at an exceptional speed.

The adoption of telehealth, first introduced in Australia in 2011, boomed with more than 100 million telehealth services delivered to approximately 17 million Australians between March 2020 and March 2022.

In the property sector, companies like Little Hinges seized the opportunity to provide a digital replica of a property and the ability to virtually inspect properties for sale. And the University of Melbourne found that digital conveyancing enabled property transactions to continue without compromise, despite movement restrictions and lockdowns.

The changing perception and expectations of the legal profession has spurred the adoption of technology as part of the legal education. Law graduates are expected to be digitally capable when they enter the workforce. Being a tech enabled lawyer is more than just the ability to use technology. It is a mindset shift. To adopt new technologies, individuals need to display innovation, agility, resilience and an openness to accepting new ways of working as a platform for growth.

The path forward with technology isn’t without risk.

The recent wake of cybercrime in Australia could be a digital deterrent. The Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Annual Cyber Threat Report (July 2021 – June 2022) found that the average cost of cybercrime for small businesses was nearly $40,000 and that attacks rose to 13 per cent– one every seven minutes compared to one every eight minutes in the last financial year. The severity of each cyber incident is also increasing as nearly 15 per cent of incidents were categorised as Category 3.

There’s no denying that Australia is a target for cybercriminals, partly because of the prevalence of digital adoption, and the ramp up of digitisation during the pandemic may have left some doors open.

Despite this, the question is no longer if a law firm should adopt legal tech, but how they can make it a competitive advantage, and also ensure that they are cyber vigilant. This can be done through education, cyber controls, up-to-date software, multifactor authentication and more. Customers and employees today both want digital advancements and law firms need find a way to offer legal tech, without compromising its controls when it comes to cyber security.

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