Will transaction technology change the business of law?
Let’s face it; transactions have been around for a very long time. From ancient Roman times (or even before then), people have been buying and selling land, chattels and services in one form or another for the past couple of hundred years. The legal processes surrounding commonplace transactions (like the sale of land for instance) have remained fundamentally the same. Although the process of transactions has remained largely unchanged, the technology available to lawyers has changed immeasurably. Surprisingly however, the fact is that a lot of firms don’t take full advantage of the technology available to them. So let’s have a look at what “transaction technology” are, its benefits, and why firms might be reluctant to take it up.
What is “transaction technology”?
Essentially this article will use the term “transaction technology” as a catch-all phrase for the wide variety of software that has been developed with a view to somehow streamlining or simplifying the transaction process for lawyers. This includes most significantly, automating those parts of the transaction which are (at least for the most part) standard, and the technology which enables the implementation of e-conveyancing.
The benefits of transaction technology
The benefits of transaction technology are numerous and significant. One of the most important advantages it offers is that it reduces the risk of human error. By automating and managing the process of the transaction, there is less chance of some step or deadline being overlooked, or of there being an error in a calculation for example. This not only leads to improved accuracy but also frees up time to spend on aspects of the transaction where the lawyer can really value-add. This will also have the added benefit of reducing the overall costs of the transaction, as less time will need to be spent carrying out the more mundane or standard parts of the transaction. Reduced costs can only lead to happier clients. Also, since 62% of firms don’t invoice until settlement, there could be a very real benefit to the firms’ cash flow.
Hurdles for transaction technology
Though there are many benefits to adopting transaction technology, there are also a number of concerns which have been raised by law firms. The main issues which pose hurdles to the adoption of transaction technology seem to be mainly the initial time and cost of implementation, as well as retraining staff to use the new system. Though this could cause some ‘down time’, it is likely that the time saved using the new technology would far outweigh the time it would take to learn a new technology, and the disruption to business it may cause. Another important issue to firms concerns the enforceability of electronic signatures and the new technology’s compatibility with existing systems, which can in turn cause concerns about the transfer of data.
Given the benefits of new transaction technology, especially to the bottom line, it seems very likely that clients will drive the push for law firms to adopt transaction technology in order to reduce the cost of obtaining legal services. This reduced cost, along with the efficiency and accuracy which the transaction technology will introduce, will not only inevitably lead to greater client satisfaction, but an early adoption of new transaction technology to streamline the transaction process will bring a new competitive edge to the firm.
 2016 survey entitled “Transaction Technology in the Legal Industry” carried out by Infotrack and Lawyers Weekly.