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Increased Used of Microsoft Technology a Trend in Legal Tech

Published November 17, 2021

In our last blog post on the ILTA 2021 Technology Survey, Doug Austin described how responses pointed to the need for Information Governance.

In this post, we will discuss the digital transformation in law firms driven by the increased use of the Microsoft platform, including Teams, during the extension of the pandemic this year, and the issues that trend brings to eDiscovery.

460 Law Firms responded to this year’s ILTA survey, with 134 firms of 50 attorneys or less and 34 firms of over 700 attorneys participating, totaling 250,000 users represented in the results.

Disruption is a phrase many technologists like to use, but when it comes to law firms, disruption is the last thing they want, according to the survey.

“There is a sea change here,” the survey states, “apparently hastened by WFH. Lawyers were very cloud-averse until last year.”

A lot of the digital transformation happening in law firms in the past year has been driven by the Work-From-Home (WFH) movement precipitated by the global pandemic, including a growing acceptance of cloud-based platforms for both firm operations as well as eDiscovery and trial presentation.

The survey also found “there is an assumption that the foundation for the legal application stack will be built on a Microsoft platform,” with “68% of firms using Teams at least for Chat & Collaboration and Online Meetings” and “53% using O365 for email in 2021 with 76% saying O365 will be their email platform within 12 months.” However, “Governance policies for Teams are quite immature in most law firms.”

“Everyone just wants the technology to do what it was intended to do and disrupt the real work of the firm as little as possible,” the executive summary states. “There is a bias toward simplicity and a holistic approach to legal software…enabl[ing] all users in a law firm to be more self-sufficient, which leads to efficiencies and lower costs.”

Future legal tech needs

So, what does this mean for technology providers? What is it law firms are looking for, at least according to the data provided in this survey?

  • They want technology that provides fast and easy access to all of the information they’ll need to share with partners, clients, or co-workers.
  • Any technology should integrate with M365 applications, including Teams.
  • Technology should provide access to built-in governance tools for easy compliance (“Every CIO we’ve talked with in the last year,” the survey states, “has listed IG as the top issue keeping them up at night”).
  • Technology should make it easy for remote team members to upload case data securely with a self-service portal.
  • With more layers working from home, technology empowering self-sufficiency is key. This can include everything from template creation and document comparison, to intuitive user-experiences, support, and training.

The 2021 ILTA Technology Survey sums it up well, by stating, “One thing is certain – we can’t go back to how things were prior to the pandemic. We have to take a forward-thinking approach and be proactive.”

There is no doubt this type of proactive thinking will be the trend going forward, as data continues to grow while at the same time becoming more vulnerable.

In the past, the risk-averse nature of law firms kept them from being early technology adapters, often sticking with the status quo while the rest of the world moved forward. With the trends shown in this new report including using Microsoft O365 and Teams, that same aversion to risk will now drive law firms to adapt technology like never before.

Learn more about how IPRO partners with Microsoft to offer enhanced eDiscovery and Information Governance for data residing in Microsoft solutions.