Spurred on by a massive wave of capital infusion, legal tech products and online legal services are on the brink of revolutionizing the broader legal sector.
Affordable and highly versatile, some online legal products, such as Canadian Legal Wills, are even beginning to outcompete more established legal services. Legally binding and easy to fill out, online will kits offer customers the ability to complete, register, and store a detailed will. Even better, customers can do all this without having to pay exorbitant attorney fees or sift through mountains of head-scratching legalese.
However, do it yourself legal kits aren’t the only thing to come out of the flourishing legal tech industry. In many ways, the rising popularity of online will kit products is really just a microcosm of a broader shift away from traditional law firms and towards highly accessible online legal services. Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown of how online legal services are transforming the modern legal industry.
What Are Online Legal Services?
Thanks to the rampant pace of innovation in the legal tech industry, legal advice and services are no longer solely the purview of traditional law firms. Nowadays, consumers can sidestep bloated law firms and choose from a wide range of online legal products and services.
In addition to giving the average legal customer more flexibility, the growing availability and utility of online legal services is also catalyzing significant changes in the internal structure of traditional law firms. While the legal industry has always been a profitable business, the proliferation and growing sophistication of online legal services has supercharged the amount of capital flowing into the sector. In 2018 alone, the legal sector registered a 718% increase in investment, largely due to industry-wide advancements in scalability, service delivery, and digitization.
Now, as capital continues to pour into the legal sector, big tech firms in Silicon Valley are leveraging their experience with enterprise clients and complex regulatory frameworks to pursue even deeper integration with online legal services.
Types of Online Legal Products and Services
Unsurprisingly, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic sent the legal industry into remote work conditions, demand for high-quality legal tech products and services has exploded. To give you a better understanding of the range of products available, we’ve outlined three of the most popular offerings in the legal tech sector.
- DIY Legal Kits
Online legal kits typically come with a variety of easy-to-use legal templates and digital forms. Accompanied with detailed yet easy to understand instructions, these packages are usually specific to a single legal function. We’ve listed some of the most common DIY legal kits below:
- Power of attorney kit
- Partnership agreement kit
- Debt management kit
- Consent orders kit
- Will and estate kit
As previously outlined, the last entry on this list is a fantastic example of the disruptive potential of DIY legal kit products. Developed by tech-savvy legal experts, these kits eliminate the need for a traditional will and estate lawyer, lowering customer costs and democratizing access to estate planning services.
- Secure Document Sharing
Although obvious in hindsight, a large number of legal firms were underprepared for the myriad logistical challenges of a fully remote workforce. For many firms, one of the biggest challenges was safeguarding the security of sensitive documents. Tricky even in pre-pandemic conditions, these security challenges have been magnified by the industry’s current reliance on vulnerable third-party video and document sharing platforms.
With demand mounting, industry specialist companies like LEAP have rushed to upgrade their benchmark document sharing platform, delivering more secure document storage, real-time document sharing, and revokable authentication protocols.
- Search and Analytic Services
Despite some advancements in legal search engines, rifling through pages of poorly organized case law and dense legal rulings remains an exceedingly tedious process. Fortunately, thanks to the legal industry’s push towards digitization, legal search and analytic services have never been more efficient. For instance, in addition to cutting down load times, some legal search platforms now have the option to visualize large, parameter-driven datasets (i.e. outcome and settlement data for a particular subset of cases).
Some legal tech firms are also trialing the use of artificial intelligence technologies to analyze and assist case workflows. While this particular strand of innovation is still in its infancy, industry insiders have already recognized the potential for AI assistance to streamline case due diligence and automate routine document drafting.
Innovation in the legal tech sector is proceeding at a staggering rate. With new products being rolled out every month, the legal industry has been relatively well-positioned for the shift to pandemic working conditions and a remote client base. However, with this trend unlikely to change any time soon, the legal industry will likely need to increase its reliance on online legal products and services.
Nevertheless, while legal tech services may be taking on a more important role in day-to-day legal operations, the fundamental values of interpersonal collaboration, professional expertise, and client engagement will no doubt continue to underpin the provision of legal services by both large-scale and small-scale legal providers.