Legal Sector Embrace Technology Thanks To Pandemic
The legal sector isn’t well known as an industry that embraces technology. Often relying on laws that are hundreds of years old, the public perception of this archaic sense of working can be understandable.
But who would have known that in 2020 a global pandemic would sweep over the world, with various countries initiating lockdowns of various degrees, face masks being worn almost everywhere, and people singing happy birthday whilst they washed their hands multiple times a day.
However, one of the positives that has seemingly arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, has been the shift in the legal sector itself, as slowly but surely it has begun to embrace technology.
Naturally, we’ve heard a lot about video team and client meetings utilising software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype. As well as conducting video calls with clients using WhatsApp and Facetime.
HM Land Revenue has started to accept electronic signatures on deeds, and during the pandemic the Ministry of Justice announced that for a period of time, witnessing wills by video will be valid (due to lockdown restrictions).
The Law Society has called on the government to help nurture developments in legal technology, to continue the sector’s recovery following the pandemic.
Simon Davis, President of the Law Society in England and Wales, said:
“Solicitors are ready, willing and able to play their role in helping Britain’s economy and society to recover from this pandemic.
“As we enter this new phase of the response to the coronavirus, with government beginning to lift some restrictions, it is clear that technology will play a vital role in driving the post-coronavirus recover across all sectors of the economy, including legal services.”
Here at Today’s Conveyancer, we spoke to a number of professionals in the arena to ask for their thoughts on technology, how their opinion has changed on it and whether they’ve adopted more technology to help them complete business as usual.
David Jabbari, CEO at Muve, commented:
“Muve was created to be a tech-enabled firm from day one. Every part of the conveyancing process was mapped and where possible digitised While there are a few areas of the process that resist full digitisation and automation we are piloting novel machine learning solutions that will extend this even further, even into the review of documents.
“The only part of our process that presented any challenge to business as usual was the arrival of physical post pre-scanning on to our system. This was successfully dealt with by a combination of third parties sending documents electronically and a skeleton, Covid-secure, staffing of our London office through the crisis. Beyond this we have been able to use all the established communication tools (such as Teams and Zoom) to deal with internal communication. Since the core of our process is web-based we have not encountered any serious problems to the full execution of our services during lockdown. Even during the height of lockdown we were still dealing with a reasonable number of completions per month.
“Overall most effects have been purely positive. If anything there is more communication, not less, compared to traditional office working, since it has to be taken more seriously in these conditions and properly planned. We have also pushed ourselves further on our digitisation as a result which will give our staff options on remote working which were not so easily achievable before.”
Sarah Dwight, a Conveyancer, said:
“One of the good things about being a sole practitioner is the freedom it brings – having a cloud based case management system that allows me to work anywhere I choose (and yes I have sat in the sun in Tenerife and dealt with cases!) is part of that freedom. There are the downsides in that I do not get to go to that balcony in Tenerife as often as I would like, but the freedom outweighs the downsides.
“I have set my business up so that I can work from home as and when necessary , although I do prefer to be based in my office as often as possible, and being a working mum means that I have never missed assemblies at school or sports days. So when Covid hit, it did not affect the day to day workings of my business.
“I could still come to the office but could just as easily work from home and did not need to make any adjustments to my working life. The system I use enables me to import emails and I work on a paperlite basis. All files are digitally stored so I did not need to take large files to and from the office and other than not meeting with clients, I did not notice a difference in the way I work”
Have your thoughts on using technology in the legal sector changed as a result of the pandemic?