Several reports indicate that joining the legal profession is a lucrative move. While it’s rewarding both financially and personally, however, pursuing a career as a paralegal can be stressful and daunting due to many changes seen in the sector.
A number of trends have emerged, which all aim to help law professionals become more productive, efficient, and competitive. We’ve list down the things that are transforming the law practice and the legal industry overall.
To establish a profitable career as a paralegal, more and more people consider taking online courses. With advancements in technology, eLearning quickly became a reliable option. After all, it offers many great benefits, such as convenience, easy navigation, time management, careful tracking and full blown learning experience.
This is another big factor that can significantly change the legal industry for the years to come. In an organization, for instance, four generations of legal professionals are expected to work side by side. These include the baby boomers, the traditionalists, the generation Y, and the generation X. As paralegals and lawyers have the option to work beyond their retirement age, most law firms are striving to balance a generation gap.
Virtual Law Office
By 2020, studies show that many legal professionals will automate traditional analog and manual process. One will use information to digitize, reinvent or eliminate business process from a decade earlier. With the emergence of efficient mobile devices and secure Internet connection, paralegals and lawyers can set up their virtual law offices and work anytime, anywhere they want.
Digitizing Legal Delivery: An Overview
The impact of technology and ongoing digitization has had an unmistakable impact on the legal industry. Unfortunately, traditional firms have been slow to respond to the shifting tides of technology, and lagging behind has cost them. How should firms respond? What can be done to curb the loss of business? All that will be addressed, but first, an important distinction: what are legal services, and how do they differ from legal delivery? Finally, what can be done to digitize the legal industry?
Simply put, legal services are services provided by a lawyer that are dependent on the legal professional’s awareness of and expertise in the nuances of the law. Time spent arguing a case in court, reviewing contracts, and deposing witnesses is all lumped into billable hours rendered for legal services. These form the backbone of the legal profession and are the main value-adding services of lawyers.
On the other hand, legal delivery is the process by which legal services are rendered. How are meetings with a lawyer scheduled? Are they in person, or done over the internet? How quickly does your lawyer get back to you with updates about your case? In what way do they do this? All these questions and so many more comprise the field of legal delivery.
This is relevant because, while the former remains the core of the legal profession, the latter have begun to grate on clients’ nerves. Prolonged turnaround times; poor communication between attorneys and clients; clunky billing procedures; outdated customer service practices: all these have compelled clients to say they’ve had enough. Bigger firms have responded to this by moving their legal requirements in-house, benefitting from greater data security and more streamlined communications. Retail clients now go online for the legal help they need, with many websites offering access to virtual consultations for a nominal fee.
Many of the issues that clients take exception with can often be addressed by the application of technology and ongoing digitization; unfortunately, traditional law firms have been unwilling or unable to implement them.
Digitization and the New Role of the Paralegal
Digitization has also had its own role to play in employee development. The sudden availability of the wealth of information on the internet has changed how employees build and add to their set of skills. This has become true for paralegals as well: training programs and skill-building have become easier and more convenient than ever, potentially making these the competitive advantage that legal professionals need to stay ahead.
Firms would do well to remain ahead of the curve, not just by implementing technologies that would streamline their own processes, but also by requiring their staff to have a baseline proficiency in technology that is relevant to their field. In this way, firms can raise their overall technological competence, and hopefully address some of the issues that have been causes for client dissatisfaction.
While the landscape may seem dire, all indications are that firms have begun to wise up. The large dull-colored room, filled with filing cabinets stocked with past court decisions, cases, and client files, is largely being replaced by servers or cloud storage on which files are digitized and saved forever. Aside from freeing up firm resources, this digitization ensures file integrity for the foreseeable future.
Let CLS by BARBRI help you build a successful career as a paralegal. We offer affordable courses, which are all available in flexible schedules. As a respected paralegal education training center in the country, we ensure that our team can guide you in earning your professional certificate. Get in touch with us today for more information.