5 ways to adapt to the shifting legal landscape in 2021
A global pandemic and social and racial injustice movement magnified the glaring need for real, exponential change that carries over into everything we do – from our everyday life to our work life, writes Georgia Foster.
Last year was filled with unexpected challenges that tested even the most well-prepared, technologically savvy organisations. Most were propelled into circumstances that required them to make substantial changes – quickly. The legal industry in particular – which has historically been slow to adopt new technologies and processes – was pushed to undergo what is probably its most significant transformation in the last century.
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In my role at Relativity, I’ve seen first-hand the pivotal role legal technology has played in equipping law firms and legal departments with the tools they need to acclimate to our now ever-changing world of work. Based on last year’s learnings, I’ve proposed five ways legal teams can leverage technology to best adapt and respond to the shifting legal landscape in 2021:
- Embrace the acceleration of digital transformation and leverage tech to maintain better work-life balance
When technology is designed with the end user in mind, it enables you to effectively and efficiently do your job within your allocated work hours so you can foster stronger work-life balance practices and make time for the things that are most important to you, like being with friends and family, exercise, activities and hobbies. In the new year, I encourage you to accept and embrace new opportunities to leverage tech, hone your skills and get back to enjoying life outside of work.
- Make the move to the cloud
While there are of course downsides to working remotely, like not being able to make face-to-face connections, the lack of feeling like you are part of a bigger community, Zoom fatigue, etc., I do think that the flexibility to work anywhere and create your own hours outweighs the negatives and is instrumental to achieving better work-life balance. Work-life balance will continue to be important in a remote world and so will end-to-end, cloud-based technology that can help you achieve it.
- Strengthen your security postures
Hackers are deploying some of the most sophisticated cyber attacks ever seen, and the legal and professional services industries are primary targets. According to The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Notifiable Data Breaches Report, legal, accounting and management services is one of the top five sectors that have reported data breaches. Of those data breaches, malicious or criminal attacks (including cyber incidents) remain the leading cause, accounting for 61 per cent of all notifications. The reason this sector is especially attractive for adversaries is because it handles large amounts of sensitive client information, data and money.
Unfortunately, everyone is susceptible to cyber attacks, from small businesses, to government agencies. The best way to mitigate the risk of a cyber attack is to take a proactive approach and have ample detections in place to identify a potential risk before it can actually have a harmful impact. If your law firm or organisation doesn’t have an experienced in-house team proactively monitoring for security vulnerabilities, employ a third-party provider with extensive experience and capabilities that are able to work 24/7 to protect your data.
- Collaboration is key
With the nature of work becoming more collaborative across enterprise technology platforms, this data cannot continue to be analysed like email, as lawyers and legal technology teams can lose valuable context and metadata unique to those platforms. In 2021, we should anticipate enterprise communications to continue to shift rapidly and scale from traditional channels like email toward chat and collaboration platforms. Ensure you stay ahead of the curve and have the proper tools that can manage a multitude of data sources in discovery.
- Drive more equitable business practices and increase access to justice
That’s why Relativity created its Justice for Change program, which aims to empower the Relativity community to tackle social and racial justice issues by providing the technology needed to organise data, discover the truth, and act on it. This is an initiative I’m extremely passionate about and proud of. It’s important to me that my place of work takes a strong stance against racial and social injustice. In 2021 and beyond, I think we’ll see more law firms and organisations empowering employees to leverage their expertise to do more meaningful work and create a more just world.
A global pandemic and social and racial injustice movement magnified the glaring need for real, exponential change that carries over into everything we do – from our everyday life to our work life. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the only constant is change. As we tackle what’s ahead in 2021 will you be equipped with the tools, tech and knowledge you need to quickly adapt and evolve?
Georgia Foster is the managing director (APAC) at Relativity.