We have just read a very interesting post on LawSites by Robert Ambrogi that provides his thoughts on the 10 most important legal technology developments of 2013. At Exari, we’ve experienced many of these trends firsthand by working closely with dozens of leading companies on their document assembly and contract management challenges.
Here are a few of our own insights and observations on these developments:
We agree that lawyer participation in social media has become mainstream. Nearly all of our relationships include interactions with lawyers, and we find that they are more and more willing to engage online. Social media is now an important way for us to interact with both clients and prospects. However, while we see lawyers embrace networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and other professional communities, activity on networks, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, is still relatively low.
Use of cloud-based legal solutions is definitely on the rise. During 2013, most of our clients that are not either financial institutions or law firms, have been opting to deploy technology like Exari’s Contract Management solutions in the cloud. Companies find this to be easier, more efficient and less expensive than hosting it internally. Additionally, we are seeing many of our clients integrate our software with other cloud solutions such as Salesforce.com, pricing tools, document management, etc.
The impact of technology on the legal profession is undeniable. Not only must lawyers be conversant in technology to do business with clients, but now, more than ever, they are at a competitive disadvantage if they do not use it in their own practices. Technology provides tools for lawyers to become more efficient, streamline repetitive tasks and spend more time adding value. Many younger lawyers were brought up with technology and are very comfortable using it both personally and professionally.
While mobile technology is still emerging from a contract management perspective, almost all of Exari’s clients are looking for mobile access for review and approvals during the contracting process. To accommodate the growing need, our latest release fully supports mobile and tablet views.
We believe that data and analytics in the contracts space will be the place to look for significant innovation in the coming years. Improved analytic capabilities give lawyers more visibility into everything they do and the ability to both increase compliance and reduce risk. For example, using contract data, lawyers can now easily see where they’ve used non-standard clauses, or where contracts are being held up during the approval process.
Technology is enabling more self-service and empowering non-legal users to create documents using pre-defined clause libraries. Here Exari has worked with companies and non-profits to make document-centric legal processes, such as creating a will, more available to everyone.
A picture is definitely worth a thousand words. That’s why we’ve created a number of tools that allow our clients to visualize the rules behind a contract template. This makes it much easier for them to understand how contracts are drafted. In fact, several law schools have approached us about using our tools to help teach their students to draft better contracts.
To better prepare their students, more and more law schools are exploring how to incorporate more technologies like document assembly and contract management into their students’ law school experience. For example, Vermont Law School currently teaches a class on Document Assembly using Exari’s software.
While Exari doesn’t have much to do with practice management, we are able to integrate with these systems and enable law firms or internal corporate legal departments to implement more efficient processes with fewer errors.
Security has always been a hot button with our clients, but we find that it’s becoming even more critical.
With the need for legal technology and automation on the rise, we expect 2014 to be an exciting year for the document automation and contract management space. Stay tuned!