OUTLINE THE TREND AND EXPLAIN THE IMPACT
The emergence of digital technology has a major impact on the legal sector in terms of their clients in all area of law. More and more people are accessing the internet to find out where they stand in terms of the civil law whether that be when buying a house, writing a will or getting divorced. People realise that the information is at the end of their fingertips and therefore they are taking advantage of this by doing their own research rather than visiting a solicitor’s office. In response to this law firms have had to adapt and diversify and as a result there has been a steady increase in the number of law firms offering their services at a discounted rate online in an attempt to attract these customer. There are a large number of firms offering Conveyancing packages, divorce packages and will services at a discounted rate to attract clients looking to reduce their costs. The increase of these services has led to there being a large amount of competition meaning a better deal for clients but also meaning that clients can access the services of a specialist who may be on the other side of the country. By offering these services law firms have had to change the way they operate as they may never meet their customers face to face as their business is conducted online. This may cut down on the overheads a firm has as their staff are able to work virtually but it may increase the cost of technology as they need to ensure that their information is secure as it is transmitted and stored. As clients are submitting potentially sensitive information digitally the firm needs to ensure that their clients’ information is secure from external threats. It also has the capacity to reduce delays as information can be sent instantly rather than waiting for postal services or couriers meaning transactions can be made quickly.
Many legal firms rely on reputations or securing new clients through networking but they are having to adapt and there has been an increase in the number of legal professional using sites like LinkedIn to forge relationships and attract new clients. This means that the professionals who are not proficient with technology may be left behind.
The rise in technology has led to new specialisms in the law profession to cope with the demand of the new laws relating to technology as well as crimes which may arise as a result of technology. Over the years law firms have had to adapt to cope with the changes in law relating to the internet and cyber law. Law firms need to be careful in terms of the information they store digitally as clients can request the information that is stored about them under the Data Protection Act (https://www.gov.uk/data-protection).