Karnov's industry report, “The Lawyer of the Future” from 2021, provides a profound insight into aspects in the legal industry such as mental health, COVID-19's impact, new digital solutions, and corporate structures.
At Proceedy, we are very concerned with the lawyer's workflow, and we are particularly impressed with the digital development in the legal industry that kick started during the pandemic.
"I think the most important thing for change is the connection between the need for quality and efficient legal services and then lawyers' great desire for a good work-life balance. Digital solutions that could eliminate the "brainless" work would be worth their weight in gold. Especially since the "brainless" work often requires adaptation and precision checks. Here, digital solutions can help reduce errors and ensure efficiency.”
The lawyer's work consists of complex legal matter but a part of it also includes doing more trivial tasks. Mindless work can be understood as the time you wait for the printer, which, by the way, also happen to be out of ink. The hundreds or thousands of pages of documents which must be organized, highlighted reprinted and handed over to the colleague who must repeat the same. After this, the documents must be stored in one of the many ring binders. A timeline of a case's course is made by hand, and if new pieces of information appear, which they do as the case's many incidents have already been added - you must now start all over. These are just some of the mindless tasks that digitization can optimize for the lawyer.
In our investigation of the legal profession, we have been in contact with several lawyers who point to the problems with the work that to some may seem like a waste of time. Some express that they do not find it fair to charge hours for work that, to the client, may seem unnecessary. In addition, we have been in contact with several law students, who are often the ones assigned to print, scan, and make the first rough drafts of a case. Furthermore, we have conducted an interview with Johanne who is a 4th semester law student at Aarhus University, and a student assistant at a law firm.
Johanne has experience with the mindless work that was previously described. Prior to her work as a student assistant, she worked full-time as a piccoline in a law office. She spent approximately 40% of her working hours on "mindless work" - which is a lot if we take into account that they had three piccolines employed. Additionally, she also worked with archive files that took up the space of several moving boxes, which had systems carefully written down by hand. Johanne is fully aware that lawyers tend to be conservative, thus many work-related aspects happen analogously.
But why are lawyers so conservative and not digital? In Johanne's experience, it is due to the following:
"I think a lot of things, for example case processing, could be digitalized. However, it may appear comforting to keep working with analogue elements and avoid the time-consuming learning process of familiarizing oneself with new IT systems."
We find this to be a general trend - "doing what you have always done" and "too time-consuming to familiarize oneself with new IT systems". We have heard familiar statements from lawyers that we spoke to in our investigation. At the same time, we also hear a clear desire to get rid of some of the conservative working procedures and achieve a more digitized everyday life in the legal profession.
New IT systems may seem intimidating to many, but it is also important to remember that not necessarily all IT systems are as comprehensive as one might imagine.
Change requires adaptation – these must be the key words as to how the lawyer's workflows should be digitized and thereby improved and optimized. Digital solutions can replace and optimize work tasks and work processes for the lawyer, which opens up precious time to be used for the important in-depth work with the case.
Read the report here: “Future Lawyer 2021”
Read our article: “Verdensmeste hjælper med at udvikle software”