11 Jan THE FUTURE OF LAW FIRMS & LAWYERS: 2024 LEGAL TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY TO WATCH
Law firms and legal departments will undergo major tech disruption by 2024 to improve efficiency and meet client expectations. Artificial intelligence and smart contracts will automate routine work while enabling firms to tap into the flexibility of agile, distributed teams. Cybersecurity to support remote work will also force investment. Altogether legacy firms will reinvent themselves to provide value in the AI age.
AI document automation will become a core service line – some estimates see the legal AI market reaching $37 billion by 2026. By 2024, over 50% of firms will have dedicated innovation roles to implement AI for drafting contracts, discovery, legal research and more. Chatbot assistants will act as virtual associates handling intake and client inquiries. AI will streamline workflows, allowing firms to expand services without expanding headcount.
Smart contracts built on blockchain will also gain adoption to enable self-executing commercial deals and evidence management. Though still nascent in 2024, early examples show opportunity to encode contracts as software for programmatic management. Supply chains, financial services and IP agreements seem poised for early use cases. Standards development will be critical for interoperability.
Virtual firms and gig lawyer networks will also proliferate thanks to digital infrastructure enabling remote collaboration. Clients benefit from on-demand expertise while lawyers gain lifestyle flexibility. Tools for securing data and communication will be essential to support this distributed workforce model that could make up over 30% of firm revenue by 2025.
Lastly, cyber attacks on law firms will rise significantly by 2024 due to having both valuable client data and deep corporate access. Ransomware, email compromise and vulnerability exploitation will disrupt deal flow and devastate small firms. Mandated cyber insurance and security standards will attempt to lock down the industry and ensure resilience.
In just a few years, legal delivery could transform thanks to machines and networks replacing static hierarchies. There will be growing pains, but ultimately increased efficiency, accessibility and innovation will benefit lawyers and clients alike. For incumbents, the time for progressive tech adoption is now.