Legal technology, or ‘legaltech’, is transforming the legal sector by automating processes and enhancing the provision of legal services. As we approach 2024, several trends within this field are particularly worth keeping an eye on. These not only promise to streamline legal operations but will also help increase the in-house legal department’s visibility and value to the organisation.
Here are seven legaltech trends poised to make an impact in the coming year.
1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
AI and machine learning remain pivotal in legaltech, especially for in-house lawyers who deal with vast quantities of contracts and complex legal matters. In 2024, these technologies will be integral for legal research, contract review, and the drafting of legal documents. Statistics from the Tech & the Law 2023 Report state more than three in five corporate legal departments (61%) have adopted generative AI in some capacity, with 7% actively using generative AI in their day-to-day work. With constant improvements to LLM (Large Language Models) by the big players, i.e. OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft (via OpenAI), 2024 will see more opportunities open and efficiencies gained for legal teams.
2. Legal design
Legal design is the use of human-centred design principles and methods to improve the usability and accessibility of legal services and products. Legal design can help lawyers communicate more effectively with their clients, create more user-friendly legal documents and interfaces, and solve complex legal problems. In-house legal teams are increasingly embracing legal design to enhance their services and improve the overall experience for their business units and internal stakeholders. This can include re-designing contracts, simplifying templates, streamlining processes, and using interactive playbooks.
3. Legal analytics
Metrics and analytics will continue to develop, providing in-house counsel with valuable insights to help them identify potential issues before they arise. This includes predictions about contract risks, compliance breaches, and litigation outcomes, allowing for better risk management and strategic planning. Regularly reviewing these insights can lead to continuous improvements in processes and strategies.
In-house lawyers will increasingly become involved in the area of cybersecurity, not just as counsel but as proactive participants in crafting a company’s cybersecurity strategy. Legaltech will offer more sophisticated tools for data protection, breach response, and compliance with data and privacy laws, which are integral for in-house legal teams responsible for safeguarding company and customer data.
5. Collaborative legal billing
The world of eBilling is being turned on its head, with legaltech providers revolutionising the way in-house teams and their law firms collaborate. These platforms can help both parties manage engagements and fee arrangements, track legal spend in real time, discuss billing issues, and ensure that invoices align with agreed-upon rate cards. This provides transparency into the billing process, allowing legal departments to have clear visibility into the work performed by law firms and associated costs. This transparency helps build trust and ensures that legal spend aligns with expectations.
6. Enhanced legal project management tools
Legal project management software will become more sophisticated, offering in-house legal teams advanced tools for budget tracking, workflow automation, and resource allocation. This aligns legal objectives more closely with business outcomes and enhances the visibility of the legal department’s value to the organisation.
7. No-code and low-code process automation
Automation transforms in-house legal operations, making routine tasks such as data privacy compliance, document generation, and contract review faster and less prone to human error. In 2024, automation will likely penetrate deeper into the legal department’s core activities, further optimising the in-house workflow.
The evolution of legaltech is set to enrich the role of in-house lawyers who are key players in navigating the intersection of law and business. By 2024, the trends in legaltech will likely have shifted from merely providing tools for efficiency to offering systems that are deeply integrated into the business, enhancing decision-making and risk management. As these technologies advance, in-house lawyers will become even more indispensable to the strategic direction of their organisations.