Paralegals: 8 Legal Tech Trends to Watch in 2018

8 Legal Tech Trends for 2018 Paralegals

As we look back at 2017 and gear up for a new year, it's smart to brush up on new trends in the legal industry. 

Technology has impacted our profession dramatically in recent years, and it continues to do so at an accelerating pace. If you're not on the technology bandwagon, you and your firm will have a hard time staying afloat.

This fact isn't a revelation. We've known for decades that success in most industries comes down to adopting new technology. But doing so in the legal profession comes with its set of challenges.
First, regulations make change difficult. Second, sometimes it's hard to know which new products and approaches in the legal industry have value, and which are just hype.

Those challenges aside, firms that don't embrace technology will have trouble attracting the best new legal talent. The revenue at law firms clinging to old school ways will drop off as a new generation of clients takes their business to new-school, tech-savvy companies.

What does it take to join the ranks of the new-school? There are eight major trends to be aware of going into 2018.

Social networks

Social networking is the cornerstone of legal industry marketing. This fact shouldn't be a surprise. Rainmaking has always been about networking, relationship building and word of mouth. It still is; these techniques in their offline form still build practices. But if you're not working the online component, too, you're at a catastrophic disadvantage.
Social media has become a factor in how clients choose attorneys, according to a survey taken this year by FindLaw. In 2017, take steps to ramp up your social presence on your website and blog, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Doing so will maximize your online presence and help you grow relationships over time.
Your clients, prospects, and leads are online and checking social media regularly. Being part of the social media landscape isn't hard, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Invest in expert help this year. Set a goal to get your social marketing plan up and running in 2017.
On another note, discovery of social media is becoming commonplace.  Posts and Tweets are discoverable, and our clients should be made aware of that early on in the case.

Virtual Law Firms

These are firms that can operate anywhere: A lawyer's home, a satellite office, even from inside a Starbucks. Many lawyers have closed their downtown offices and work remotely. Technology lets them do this without hurting service or quality. Remote work can reduce overhead and travel time while increasing flexibility and improving work/life balance. Plus, you have the option to rent offices or meeting rooms as needed.

The leap to virtual doesn't have to happen overnight. Experiment by working remotely one day a week and see how it impacts your productivity and revenue. It may very well provide the edge your firm needs to succeed in 2017.


Electronically stored information (ESI) is considered discoverable in court. ESI includes e-mails, texts, instant messages, voicemails and other electronically stored information. What you need to know: This technological reality has changed the face of litigation. Lawyers can (and should) use digital services to access all types of records. And we need to remind our clients that their deleted texts and e-mails are retrievable.

Legal process outsourcing

Outsourcing legal work to a vendor, law firm or overseas resource has become an increasingly favorable trend for law firms. Streamlined by new technology, LPO continues to cut expenses and reduce workload overflow. It can be a huge factor in scaling your business and managing workflow. LPO technology firms that market to the legal industry are on the rise.

Portals and cloud computing

Cloud-based online document repositories provide secure, on-demand access to records for you, your clients, and your team members. You can store, organize, view, and change files.
Cloud computing, broadly defined, is a category of software and services delivered over the Internet rather than installed locally on a user's computer.  The cloud offers a variety of potential advantages including: 

Low upfront costs
Easy mobile access
Simple setup and configuration
Built-in disaster preparedness

Because cloud computing places data--particularly client data--on remote servers outside of the lawyer's direct control, it is also cause for some concern regarding client confidentiality and the applicable rules of professional conduct.
More clients want instant gratification and access to their documents and records. It's relatively easy to set up, makes for a better consumer experience, and can save you time from fielding emails and sending attachments. Make sure your clients/team have this access in 2018!


While Bitcoin gets the fame and attention, the technology behind it – Blockchain – is starting to affect a variety of industries. We sat down with Peter Wall from steinpag and he stated that Blockchain is impossible to hack or forge, so it is now being used for asset tracking of financial assets. It is also being built into “smart contracts”. Instead of signing paper contracts and scanning them or signing a contract with one’s mouse and clicking various confirmation buttons, Blockchain is being used to verify and store the user’s signature. Smart contracts will allow people to sign legally binding agreements no matter where they are that are recognized by the courts, whether buying a house or agreeing to payment terms.

Globalization of Law

When you were in an international dispute, the first question that used to arise was which jurisdiction took precedence. Today, we’re seeing a global push to standardize laws and regulations so that there isn’t as much of a difference. More countries are pushing compliance with labor and human rights onto their suppliers, such as requiring documentation that the businesses meet international standards and subject themselves to audits as required. This trend is accelerated in nations in regional free trade agreements like NAFTA, the EU or Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is just beginning to come into its own in terms of its use by lawyers and within the legal industry. What’s the impact of this technology on the legal profession? Within the next few years, we will find ourselves on the cusp of a revolution in the practice of law led by the adoption of artificial intelligence – in particular, by in-house lawyers. Much like email changed the way we do business every day, AI will become ubiquitous – an indispensable assistant to practically every lawyer.
So there you have it. Six new trends that aren't entirely new, per se, but are increasingly important as our industry ventures forth into the brave new world of 2018.
Lawyers like to err on the side of caution. Many of us are slow to embrace new technology or rock the boat. Historically, we get hung up asking ourselves whether we can afford to take such risks.
But what we need to be asking is: Can we afford not to?

At the end of 2018, the answer is a resounding no.

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