There are many benefits to adopting legal technology as a law firm. As well as helping to reduce legal costs, it can improve process management through automation, add value to employees’ skillsets and help firms outpace their rivals.
However, as much as legal tech is creating rapid change in the industry, it can also bring risk. According to the 2021 Future Ready Lawyer Survey from Wolters Kluwer, only one-third of lawyers (33%) believe their organisations are very prepared to keep up with technology changes in the legal market. To gain trust in legal tech, firms need to do their research into the transparency, ethical practices, security and data privacy policies of the companies behind the product.
Let’s take a closer look what trust factors legal firms should consider when researching legal technology:
Transparency and accessibility
According to recent predictions made by IDC, by 2023, 50% of the Global 2000 will appoint a chief trust officer to handle business functions such as legal, security, and risk. Transparency is becoming increasingly important to businesses across all sectors, least of all in the legal industry.
Before signing up to a legal tech product, law firms should research how the company interacts with customers online. Do they respond to enquiries quickly and professionally on social media? Do their online reviews look genuine, i.e., not all 5 star-ratings from anonymous users? What do third-party websites say about the company’s product? Firms should also check how accessible the company’s information is and how easy it is to access customer service.
In terms of marketing activities, law firms should check whether legal tech companies identify sponsored or promotional content accordingly. They should also check whether customer testimonials are voluntary reviews from verified purchasers, or whether the reviews have been solicited.
When it comes to pricing, legal professionals should look for simple, straightforward pricing structures, with no hidden costs. They should find out how much they will be billed, when payments are taken and what feature restrictions there might be on each pricing tier. It’s also important to read the small print to ensure there are no hidden stipulations that could impact the company’s use of the software in the future.
Firms should also seek clarification on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms are used in the product. For example, does the technology use explainable AI (XAI) that demonstrates how decisions are made? Companies that can explain how their technology works in a clear, understandable way enhance customer confidence.
When choosing software that uses machine learning, legal professionals should consider the company’s ethical practices. Because the logic of algorithms can’t determine right from wrong, law firms need to evaluate whether the technology is being used in a way that aligns with their own principles and values.
With emerging technologies, comes a barrage of misinformation. Law firms should ensure that tech companies are proactive in communicating factually accurate information in regards to the technologies they use.
Firms should also check whether the tech company uses tools that encourage inclusivity and removes bias in automated processes. Likewise, legal technology should include digital controls that prevent unethical use of its abilities.
As well as verifying the ethical practices of the tech company itself, law firms should look at the practices of their partners and supply chain. Among growing public calls for increased regulation of AI, firms should verify that the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of components follow ethical practices across the supply chain.
Cyber security and tech reliability
According to a 2021 survey conducted by the American Bar Association, 25% of law firms have experienced some sort of security breach. In the wake of several high-profile cyber attacks on firms like Allens, Jones Day and Goodwin, security has become a growing concern among legal firms.
Before signing up to use a legal tech product, firms should research the company’s data security practices, including checking whether they’ve been subject to security breaches in the past.
Legal professionals should also check what cyber security features the technology uses. For example, a trustworthy legal tech product may use digital biometric features, multifactor authentication and voice recognition to prevent fraudulent activities.
Firms should also check how suspicious activity is flagged on their account. Many legal tech companies use intelligent threat detection tools to caution users against unusual activity like multiple login attempts, or logins from foreign locations.
The reliability of the product is also important. Firms should check how much downtime the technology has had over the last year and research what backup systems are in place to ensure minimal disruption to operations.
A white paper published by MitraTech reveals that 56% of legal professionals say data privacy and security is a top priority for their teams in 2021. With the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, data privacy is a growing concern for businesses across all sectors.
A trustworthy tech product should enable firms to monitor what data is being collected, how the data is being used and how long the data is stored. Some tech companies publish transparency reports that show third party requests for user data and some allow users to delete their data at any time, or transfer it to a different provider.
At WiseTime, our automated timekeeping software is developed with privacy at its heart, giving our users full control over their data. Law firms can exclude information from ever showing on the platform and execute the right to be forgotten. All data remains 100% private until users decide to share it with their team. Most importantly, WiseTime will never see any user content and only collects relevant metadata about activity.
Legal tech can improve the accuracy and speed of legal processes, and increase profit margins. However, due diligence should be carried out before committing to adopting legal software on a company-wide basis.
At WiseTime, we have always been proudly transparent and forward thinking when it comes to data, privacy and security. We design our products with these in mind from the get go. We have features built in for customers to self serve and manage their data and privacy and also back that up with state of the art encryption and security. To find out more, schedule a demo today.