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Legal technology trends demonstrate intent to deliver better experiences and outcomes

Dean Leung

The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) is the leading association for technology in the legal sector. ILTA recently published its annual technology survey, and we have taken a long look at the findings as they apply to iManage.

ILTA’s key annual research into our sector highlights technology trends across a broad spectrum, from network architecture to third-party services. It makes for compelling reading and shows that legal technology investments align with intentions to deliver better outcomes: knowledge work at scale and growth.

Not surprisingly, the survey looks in detail at document management. The goal of each firm is to provide a service that maximizes efficiency and minimizes costs. The challenge that legal technology practitioners face daily is implementing the best document management system to meet that goal.

Over the past two years, as the pandemic has elevated remote working to a new normal, firms have faced additional pressures to ensure the same level of service for everyone, no matter where – and when – they are working. This means an increasing focus on the cloud and a keener eye on data security.

iManage is delighted to be the document and content management solution of choice in this context. iManage solutions have been used by more than half of survey respondents for the last three years, with our popularity growing steadily year on year.

This isn’t just the case for larger firms. We top the table across every size of legal firm in the ILTA survey, from those with fewer than 50 lawyers right up to those with 700 or more lawyers.

The survey shows that more firms are moving towards a cloud or software as a service (SaaS) model. Cloud-based document management is accessible whenever a knowledge worker needs it and is less prone to downtime – thanks to solid service level agreements, remotely deployed updates, and fewer client-side hardware requirements. Cloud providers work hard to keep their platforms up to date and protect users against malware incursions. For these and many other reasons, a move to the cloud makes better sense today than it ever has before.

Such is the momentum for firms moving to the cloud in 2022. The conversation has shifted to a likely tipping point of not “If,” but “When” firms migrate their technology infrastructure. All available intel points to firms making a move to the cloud to ensure that they are future proof, perceived as forward-thinking, and able to meet the stringent demands of both client and industry protocols.

Further evidence from the survey and what we see in the marketplace is that firms are putting the crown jewels of their data in the cloud. In the past, document management systems, human resources, and time & billing were off-limits for hosting in the cloud. With a newfound trust and need to scale, the cloud is a prerequisite for such systems and functions.

Earlier this year, iManage standardized on the Microsoft Azure platform for iManage Cloud, allowing us to take advantage of Microsoft Azure web services in areas like information protection, workflow, and security key management.

In addition, deeper integration with Microsoft 365 has vital benefits for users of iManage Work across the whole gamut of document creation and management tasks, from drafting documents through to email management.

And let’s not forget those all-important online meetings, which, if anything, are more needed now than they have ever been. Cloud-based systems jumped from 3% to 32% in 2021 in helping people WFH (work from home) – a trend that continues into 2022.

The advantages iManage brings to its customers through Microsoft Azure resonate with the legal firms ILTA surveyed, as a significant number say they plan to move to our platform in the coming year. It is important to note that the cloud is not a luxury infrastructure option available only to large law firms; there is cloud suitability and there are gains to be made across the gamut of legal organizations. Azure allows us to provide additional advantages to our customers, such as quickly scaling up (and down) as needed and meeting national data privacy requirements (such as those arising from GDPR and other international compliance laws and regulations).

As I write this blog, the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of easing. This means legal firms must continue to support a distributed workforce through the most effective, efficient services they can provide. Cloud-based SaaS models are well-positioned to help firms meet this requirement, and as our standardization on Microsoft Azure this year shows, we can support legal firms in this effort.

It may be a tricky year ahead. When your organization has confidence in its legal technology stack, you reap the rewards of unlocking institutional knowledge and enabling your highly skilled workforce to deliver better outcomes and growth. Additionally, this confidence helps organizations tackle the challenges and emerging trends around the retention and training of talent and the continuous pursuit of delivering the practice of law in a better way than before.

 Read the full ILTA Technology Survey 2021.

About the author

Dean Leung

Dean Leung is Executive Vice President of Digital Enablement & Communities at iManage, a leading provider of work product management solutions. He oversees the Enablement teams, whose ongoing mission is to build deep and vibrant relationships with the iManage community of external developers, technology partners, training partners, and customers. Dean has more than 25 years of IT experience, most of which he has spent working with international law firms to drive efficiency, productivity and revenue generation through the use of technology. Previous to his current role, Dean was Chief Customer Success Officer at iManage.