As the premier conference focused on legal technology, this year’s ILTACON event in Orlando, Florida, brought together thought leaders and technology decision-makers to explore operational strategies for today’s ever-changing legal industry. At Workstorm, we got right into the action by hosting a happy hour, giving away an Apple watch, offering in-person demonstrations to see our platform in action, and talking with attendees about their professional needs. Workstorm executive Brian Stearns also spoke on a panel about non-traditional apps for the legal industry that can help users enhance productivity.

Along with the wealth of innovation and information at the conference, Workstorm heard from hundreds of legal professionals about their current operational and technology challenges. Here are the four biggest lessons we learned at the show.

1. Cost pressures are growing for law firms.

According to an American Lawyer article by officials with Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group, legal revenue grew 4.1% in the first half of this year, but expenses grew 5.9%. Legal teams are in a constant battle to do more with less, which makes efficiency increasingly important. It’s critical for firms to work smarter, not harder, and to find new ways to streamline their biggest bottlenecks – like dealing with an avalanche of emails and documents.

The numbers tell the story, and the story is that lawyers receive more than 17,000 emails and 26,000 documents a year. At Workstorm, we know that efficiency is key, which is why our platform offers email and messaging within the same dashboard. That means you can transition most communications to organized messaging channels, while still staying responsive to important emails from clients and vendors. Better organized communications allow you to spend less time triaging and filing, and more time solving problems and attending to your team and customers.

As for those thousands of documents, our secure document management and file sharing system integrates with partners including iManage, Box, Google Documents and more, making collaboration and version control seamless and keeping costs down.

2. Law firms are recognizing they’re behind the tech curve.

Law firms have historically been slow to adopt technology, partly because of customer-driven regulatory and security complexities and partly because of ingrained habits. But as Workstorm founder Raj Fernando points out, “remaining competitive in business is like remaining competitive in any sport – you must always keep training, growing, and adapting to the conditions and the competition.”

Many of the firms we talked with at ILTACON didn’t have collaboration alternatives to email in place, but a growing number are realizing business as usual isn’t cutting it and that they need to address the gaps in their tech stack. While we don’t know exactly what the future of the legal profession will hold, it’s safe to say it will look dramatically different in the coming years.

Those who ignore advancements in technology that could improve legal services will do so to their own detriment. Those who choose to keep up, innovate and take advantage of the tools available to them will uncover remarkable new opportunities.

3. The quickly evolving regulatory environment is prompting firms to look for solutions.

The professionals we talked to at ILTACON expressed increasing concern about having to adapt to rapidly evolving regulations, including issues like:

  • Constantly changing legal restrictions around client confidentiality and related issues
  • Meeting the requirements of the GDPR

These regulations around data security and client confidentiality mean technology solutions often need to meet strict requirements. Based on the legal environment, some teams may need on-premise deployment, specific protocols around data archiving or deletion, or ability to easily pull correspondence related to a certain matter.

As a platform built around the legal industry’s needs, Workstorm is uniquely equipped to address these issues. We offer enterprise-grade encryption that follows industry security standards, customizable configurations to meet company-specific confidentiality requirements, and analytics to proactively ensure user compliance with information security policies.

4. Recruiting and retaining young talent requires a fresh approach to technology.

According to Statista, there are 1.35 million lawyers in the United States alone, and the average attorney is around 47 years old. As these attorneys reach the final years of their careers, firms need an effective pipeline to attract and retain the best and brightest among the next generation. Those that prioritize modernization and innovation in the workplace will have a serious advantage.

During the “Disruption as an Opportunity” session at ILTACON, we heard how many young lawyers are looking to work with firms on the leading edge, putting the impetus on employers to keep up. Millennial attorneys are increasingly social and mobile and want to work for forward-thinking employers. Firms that don’t adapt to these technological changes will lose out on young new talent.

The Bottom Line

Our time at ILTACON underscored just how quickly the legal environment is changing. From large Am Law 200 firms to in-house teams, legal professionals are looking for new ways to work more efficiently, effectively and securely.

At Workstorm, we’re working to meet all of these concerns with the first communication and collaboration platform built for the needs of law firms. We believe technology should empower brilliant minds to do incredible things, connect us seamlessly, bring people together from around the office and around the world, and enliven teamwork no matter where you work – all in a private, secure environment.