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It's no secret that law firms are starting to utilize all sorts of new technology and software. Granted the rate of adoption for new tech at law firms is typically abysmal, one law professor's special project might actually be showing a change in the weather.
The Law Firm Innovation Index is the project of Daniel Linna, a law professor in Michigan. The index works by having bots crawl the web to search for key terms on law firm websites in order to provide a general idea of what technology law firms are using, or which tech industries firms seem to be targeting most. The index only examined firms in the Am Law 200 and Global 200.
What Topped the Index?
Surprisingly, topping the index for the most found terms by category was the blockchain category. Though blockchain technology is still in its infancy when it comes to being used in the legal industry, it is by far the one that seems to intrigue law firms the most.
After blockchain, coming in second was project management. Project management tech has really taken off, even in the legal sector. Many cloud based services now allow attorneys to access their entire file system from their smart phones, as well as integrate cost tracking and analysis tools.
Behind project management tech, artificial intelligence came in third, with a score that, surprisingly, was less than half of blockchain's.
What's the Point?
Linna believes that it is not the law firms driving the innovation in the legal sector. Sophisticated clients know that new technology can replace traditional legal services, in quality, cost, and speed. And while the new tech might be costly up front, so are traditional legal services. Traditional legal services just cost more over time as those billable hours continue to accumulate. While, as Linna posits, law firm clients will be the driving forces pushing firms to adopt new, cost-saving, tech, as the upfront costs borne by the law firm mean lower costs to the client. Since tech can usually be reused over and over, thereby spreading costs out over time, adopting new tech can still be profitable for firms, if done right.