There has been a clear shift in the balance of power in the legal industry today. Since the recession of 2007-2008, (although many would suggest the trend started before then), clients have moved into the driver’s seat. Today, clients demand that their law firms provide increased value at reduced costs, and they are not shy about taking their business to those firms that do.
In response, law firms are continuing to turn to technology to help them increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and gain new ways to deliver exceptional legal services. For example, since most law firms are forced to work with a staggering amount of documents, proven document management solutions can automate paper-based processes, increase cost recovery, and improve compliance efforts. Even better, these new gains translate into value that can be passed on to clients – truly a win-win for the law firm and its clients.
Requirements on the legal technology wish list: usability and security
All of this sounds good, but not just any technology will do. As law firms look to maximise existing technology or implement new solutions, many have concerns related to user adoption and overall security. Specifically, they require applications and systems that are proven to improve staff productivity yet still are capable of protecting their most confidential data. In other words, they need legal technology that will help their users get the job done – and do it securely.
These views are well represented in the recently released ILTA 2015 Technology Survey. According to the survey, 42% of respondents indicated that “security/risk management” was one of the top three technology issues at their firm – far and away the top challenge selected. Additionally, 31% of law firms reported that “balancing security with usability” was their biggest security challenge. Finally, when it came to deploying technology, such as the concept of moving technology to the cloud, 44% cited security as their main concern.
Clearly, usability/productivity are top of mind, but this doesn’t have to be the case of a “one-or-the-other” requirement. For example, consider PDF technology in legal today. PDF tools are extremely popular in law firms since they deliver much more effective ways to manage documents. PDF technology also drives productivity by helping legal professionals maximise productivity and support their most important workflows and processes: Contract review and redlining, eDiscovery, privilege review, eFiling, and more.
At the same time, the best PDF solutions can also help law firms meet their most stringent security requirements. PDF tools can convert paper legal documents and pleadings into secure PDFs, ensuring that confidential information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Additionally, users can add passwords and permission controls to their PDF files to control and restrict how their documents are viewed, printed, or modified. Some PDF tools, such as Nuance® Power PDF, even offer advanced redaction capabilities to remove sensitive data for safe, secure document sharing.
Editing and redaction are important considerations in legal today, and more law firms are choosing those PDF tools that can offer this functionality. This may be why the ILTA survey shows that in the category of “solution for editing and redacting PDFs,” Nuance Power PDF rose by a factor of more than seven times (to 15%) while other vendors actually lost market share.
In addition to PDF, there are additional technologies that law firms and legal practices can use to meet these same productivity and security goals. Cost recovery, document capture, print management and even mobile. All of these are designed for simplicity and security – built to handle any firm’s biggest challenges.