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10 Trends Reshaping the Legal Industry

There have been dramatic changes in the legal industry over the past decade, due to a shifting economy and an explosion of new technology. Most of these trends help law firms and organizations become more efficient, product, and competitive in a global market. Other trends result from changing demographics, attitudes and work styles.

Here are 10 new trends that are transforming the legal industry in 2016:

1. E-Discovery

Recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure make electronically stored information such as e-mails, instant messages, voicemails, e-calendars, graphics and data on handheld devices discoverable in litigation. New roles in litigation support, e-discovery and trial technology have emerged to address the electronic changes of the digital age.

2. Multi-Generational Workforce

For the first time in history, four generations are working side by side in the workplace: traditionalists, baby boomers, generation x, and generation y. Having four generations working together in the same work environment presents new workforce dynamics and challenges. As attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals tend to work beyond retirement age, many law firms and legal departments are trying to balance a generation gap of more than 50 years between the oldest and youngest employees.

3. Social Networking

Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are changing the way legal professionals recruit, job hunt, network, locate and discredit witnesses, manage their careers and interact with clients. These are all key marketing tools helping lawyers to reach a broad audience and assist in branding, advertising and client development.

4. Legal Process Outsourcing

Legal process outsourcing (LPO), transfers the work of attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals to external vendors located domestically or overseas. Legal outsourcing, both onshore and offshore, is transforming law practice as law firms and legal departments seek to minimize costs, increase flexibility and expand their in-house capabilities.

5. Work-Life Balance

New workplace policies have more of an emphasis on work-life balance. New policies such as flex-time, telecommuting, part-time work, phased retirement, temporary leave, compressed schedules and other alternative work arrangements are transforming the law firm environment to become more flexible.

6. Globalization

Domestic law firms are expanding across borders, collaborating with foreign counsel and forming mergers and erasing traditional boundaries. Although globalization is not new, it’s gaining momentum due to the growth of the internet, automation of legal processes, and developments in data security and emerging technology tools.

7. Eco-Consciousness

As going green becomes a global priority, green law initiatives are impacting the business and practice of law. In response to global warming, economic pressure and eco-conscious clients, law firms, and legal professionals across the globe are establishing green initiatives that cut expenses, reduce their carbon footprint and promote social responsibility.

8. Virtual Law Firms

Powerful mobile devices, software-as-a service, and secure, web-based technology allow legal professionals to work from virtually anywhere. As a result, more legal professionals are working remotely from home or a virtual law office.

9. Alternative Legal Service Delivery Models

The legal marketplace is changing, and now clients can seek legal assistance from a growing number of non-lawyer professionals including paralegal technicians, legal document preparers, legal self-help sites, virtual assistants and offshore legal vendors.

10. Alternative Billing Models

Pressure to reign in legal costs have forced law firms to diverge from the traditional billable-hours model  - a century old staple of the legal industry – in favor of a new alternative billing models such as fixed, flat, blended or capped fees.

Original article source: 10 Trends Reshaping the Legal Industry

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