Bench + Bar of Minnesota

Brace yourself. Here are seven legal tech trends that are transforming the practice of law.


By Todd C. Scott   

“Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one 
If you can’t lend your hand 
For the times they are a-changin’”
— Bob Dylan 

“Turn and face the strange changes.”
— David Bowie

Loosely characterized, we are now practicing law in the post-pandemic era. For members of a profession that for a century was notoriously unvarying in its systems and methodologies, post-pandemic times have brought such rapid and consequential change to the processes used by attorneys that the results have been nothing short of transformational. 

Imagine a year where, in the law office, audio-visual tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom were practically nonexistent, receiving a recipient’s signature on a document took at least a day, paying bills required check signers, and it was likely you had to be at work—onsite, that is—to have any access to your firm’s data network. 

That was 2020. 

Now, barely three years later, technology and tools that allow attorneys to practice law while working from anywhere are ubiquitous. Forever gone are the days when clients and lawyers were required to gather in common areas for all meetings, endorsing and notarizing documents, mediations, and judicial hearings. 

But the changes keep coming. On November 30, 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) was released to the public in the form of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. AI chatbots will likely prove to be one of the most disruptive technologies in how we practice law since the emergence of email and MIME (a technology that allowed a lawyer to attach documents and send them to any computer user in the world, which was seen as niche or downright frivolous in 1992). In less than 60 days after its launch, ChatGPT 3.0 reached 100 million monthly active users, making it the fastest-growing consumer application ever.1 

The popularity of ChatGPT has startled even the most veteran industry observers. Brad Smith, an American attorney and business executive who became vice chair of Microsoft in 2021, confirmed the tech industry’s transformational view of AI at the time of ChatGPT’s launch. “We’re going to see advances in 2023 that people two years ago would have expected in 2033. It’s going to be extremely important, not just for Microsoft’s future, but for everyone’s future,” said Smith.2 

But lawyers don’t generally make tech decisions based on something they read in Forbes, Reuters, or Wired. Or a tweet from Brad Smith. 

Instead, a cringe-inducing headline in the New York Times did more to influence lawyers’ perception of ChatGPT 3.0 than the fact it had 100 million users. On June 8, 2023, the New York Times published an article titled, “The ChatGPT Lawyer Explains Himself,” and attorneys everywhere read about Manhattan attorney Steven A. Schwartz, who began a hearing “nervously upbeat” while explaining to Judge P. Kevin Castel, senior judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, why the lawyer’s brief for a case in federal district court was filled with fake judicial opinions and legal citations, all generated by ChatGPT.3 For any lawyer with a pulse, reading the description of the two-hour hearing is tortuous. 

According to the Times, Judge Castel “gesticulated often in exasperation, his voice rising as he asked pointed questions. Repeatedly, the judge lifted both arms in the air, palms up, while asking Mr. Schwartz why he did not better check his work?” 

The attorney was more than contrite. “God, I wish I did that, and I didn’t do it,” Schwartz said, adding that he felt embarrassed, humiliated, and deeply remorseful. But it was his words regarding the reliability of the groundbreaking application that obliterated the legal research reputation of ChatGPT for lawyers everywhere. 

“I did not comprehend that ChatGPT could fabricate cases,” Schwartz told Judge Castel. 

Almost overnight, developers at OpenAI erected guardrails in ChatGPT that prevented the application from ever muttering anything that resembled legal analysis or a Blue Book citation again. ChatGPT, a genius application that passed the Uniform Bar Examination4 and will explain the Rule Against Perpetuities like you are a 5th grader, is, in its infancy, a writing and research tool with immeasurable promise for attorneys. But don’t ask it for a citation to Brown v. Board of Education. Because after the Schwartz debacle, it won’t give it to you. 

Amid these recent developments, lawyers have also been participating in the so-called “Great Resignation” as they sought new opportunities—not just for more pay, but for improved well-being. A new generation of lawyers who achieved their bar-licensure dreams despite debilitating law school debt came onto the scene and said, “Enough.” When balancing the institution of working onsite for five, sometimes six, long days per week with the desire to be with their families and spend quality time taking care of themselves, many chose their well-being. That meant replacing old institutions that sucked away their billable time—such as sending invoices exclusively by mail—and discovering solutions that bring genuine work-life balance and outsource the mundane. 

So where might we be going from here? And what does 2024 have in store for attorneys trying to stay windward of the tidal change happening with law office workflows? Humbly, we have identified seven legal tech trends that will bring transformational change to lawyers and law firm processes everywhere. 


Virtual financial solutions mean less work, more savings

A decade ago, it was science fiction to suppose that financial management for law firms could be accomplished entirely though electronic means, with e-solutions that include bill paying, remote expense oversight, and client invoices distributed with reminders automatically, without involving a postage machine. But the pandemic era of remote work placed the last vestiges of manual law office systems in the line of fire, and e-solutions for spending and recovering money in a law practice became a high priority for firms wishing to end the relationship with resource-consuming invoicing processes. 

In its recently published 2023 Legal Trends Report, Clio ( reported that law firms using online payments get paid twice as fast.5 When looking at the number of days it takes to get bills paid, those using online payments have a median waiting period of seven days compared to 15 days for those not using online payments. Law firms using online payments collect, on average, 50 percent of their bills within seven days of issuing them and 80 percent of their bills within 49 days. Law firms not using online payments take more than twice as long—15 days—to collect 50 percent of their bills and it takes 70 days—over two months—to reach 80 percent collected. An e-billing system with electronic bill-pay reminders can save a firm hours of staff time, often resulting in payment within days rather than weeks. 

On the expense side, firms struggling with time-consuming check-writing processes, often involving multiple accounts and signers, can achieve efficient and reliable expense management with e-payment services such as By replacing checks and manual check request processes with e-payment solutions, employees waiting for checks to pay for supplies or legal expenses can drastically reduce the time it takes to manage firm expenses. 

Most banking institutions have e-payment services that will eliminate the need for writing checks altogether, along with the hassle of putting payments in an envelope and mailing them.

E-payment services will make available physical or virtual payment cards that can be used by attorneys and staff for routine expenses, while expense management and oversight is maintained using the service platform. Finally, one of the most resource-intensive workflows in the firm—bill-paying and expense management—can be achieved virtually from start to finish, with the potential for significant savings for the firm. 


Collaborate and supervise virtually 

In 2020 web-based tools like Microsoft Teams ( and Zoom ( were embraced by law firms, quickly becoming the go-to choice for organizations desperate for solutions at the start of the covid-19 pandemic. But those tools weren’t developed for the purposes for which they were being used: internal and external collaboration, as well as video conferencing. Although Zoom is primarily a video conferencing tool, it has almost no work-collaboration features. Alternatively, Teams was a well-developed tool for internal group collaboration, but with a poor set of features for external communications. 

If you’re counting app users, 2023 may likely be the year that Teams dethrones Zoom as the most popular conferencing platform. And for good reason. Microsoft Teams is far better for maximizing meeting productivity. For example, there’s a Teams chat feature called loop components that allows you to create meeting action item lists in the chat window while you’re in a meeting. Also, while both Zoom and Teams offer video recording and transcripts, Teams emails the recording to all invitees and saves it in the meeting chat window—making it easily traceable without your having to do anything. 

As a tool for remote management and supervision, Teams must be the first choice for firms already using Microsoft productivity platforms such as Outlook, Word, Excel, and SharePoint. Training employees remotely allows users to record the session and save the video file in an employee’s calendar or online file so learning generally happens faster, and the training can be refreshed by the user at any time. 


Perfecting how we look and sound online 

While we are talking about remote communications, let’s get to the heart of a matter many attorneys are reluctant to acknowledge: How we look and sound online is critical for our clients' success. We’d like to think that matters of cosmetics are trivial and it is solely the words of the attorney that carry the day when advocating for our clients. That delusion ends now. By implementing a few simple and affordable tools for your next online meeting, you are guaranteed to be seen as clearly as Taylor Swift in Imax format, and heard like Ari Shapiro on NPR’s All Things Considered: 

• Lights: A good light source, directly in front of your face, is the difference between looking spectacular or looking like you are in the witness protection program when participating in an online video-conferencing session. Natural sunlight is best, but you can find many ring lights at at affordable prices. 

• Camera: If you have a newer MacBook or Surface Pro tablet laptop, the built-in camera on the device may provide a high-quality video image. Just make sure the camera is at eye level, so the video-conferencing participants don’t lose track of your words while observing a regrettable hair in your nose. Logitech’s C922 Pro HD Stream Webcam ( is a highly rated remote webcam for under $100 that will vastly improve your screen image. 

• Audio: Relying on your PC’s built-in microphone is a guaranteed way to ensure meeting participants hear all the garbage trucks, barking dogs, and leaf blowers during your online session. A professional multi-pattern condenser USB microphone like Yeti Blue sells for about $100 and offers incredible flexibility, allowing you to record in ways that would normally require multiple microphones. (


Virtual help is virtually everywhere 

Lori Gonzalez has helped lawyers bill their clients for nearly two decades. Her company, The RayNa Corporation (, began as a single-person startup, and in the last decade it’s grown into a top industry partner for midsize and large law groups, handling tens of millions of dollars in legal transactions annually. Gonzalez’s success for her clients has kept her in demand among lawyers who would like to outsource their financial recoveries and see immediate improvement in their bottom line. 

RayNa’s growth is just one example of the many partnerships now available to lawyers who wish to outsource key systems and workflows in their law practice. Attorneys would be hard-pressed to identify any process in their law practice that couldn’t be outsourced by proven, competent service providers through virtual and remote connectivity.

Virtual service providers for lawyers: A far-from-exhaustive list
Here are just a few examples: 

Some advice when shopping for virtual legal services: Try to find local service providers with a virtual presence. Not all virtual services are alike, and it may be important for your law practice to identify an outsourcing partner that has experience with the jurisdiction where you are practicing law. 


Protecting your online brand 

Gordon Cheng is a barrister in Adelaide, South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital, who logged online one day to discover someone had posted three negative Google reviews of his law practice, despite never having been Cheng’s client. In October 2018, Isabel Lok posted a one-star Google review of Cheng’s legal services, and later followed-up by posting two more under false names. To Cheng, the negative reviews were devastating. The barrister claimed to have lost about 80 per cent of his clients, predominantly from Adelaide’s Chinese community, because of the bad reviews. Cheng estimated the total loss of his income over a 15-month period to be more than $630,000 AU, and in February 2020, he won a defamation claim and secured an award of $750,000 AU plus legal fees as well as a written apology from Lok. 

When Cheng first identified the negative review, he turned to Google’s customer review services and the damaging statements were removed after the barrister followed Google’s embedded dispute resolution process. But for Cheng, the damage was done, and his activities highlight the importance of vigilantly protecting the online reputation of an attorney’s legal services. 

Research shows that 89 percent of consumers read online reviews before purchasing a product or service and 93 percent of users have made buying decisions based on an online review.6 Clio, the web-based attorney solutions provider, reports that more than one in three people looking for an attorney will turn to the internet before asking a friend or family member for a referral.7 The data makes it clear that you cannot ignore web-based marketing, including online reviews, if you wish to grow your law practice. 

Minnesota attorney Jess Birken, widely recognized as an authority on online legal marketing, has been teaching lawyers how to manage their online reputation with precision. One of Birken’s first principles for managing online reviews is to identify the clients who love you and gently urge them to post a positive review. And—no surprise—there are virtual marketing tools to help you do this. 

Obtaining positive Google reviews starts with a simple link to a feedback form that asks customers, “How are we doing?” Birken uses a Jotform ( that asks clients who click on the link, “Would you recommend Birken Law Office to a friend or colleague?” Clients who rate the firm’s services highly are thanked by Birken for their kind words, and asked if they would post a Google review about the firm’s services. Happy clients will usually reward the firm with a Google review, sharing their positive experiences with others. Reputation management tools like Podium ( will automatically remind happy customers to leave a review and will follow up via automated email or text. But Birken suggests that the best results come from personal (and not intrusive) contact with the firm’s clients at a time when the attorney senses they are most satisfied with the legal services they received. 


Hack-proofing your law firm 

The year just past has achieved another, more dubious title from industry experts who track data theft—2023 has been dubbed “the year of ransomware” by data security specialists, who note that ransomware attacks continued at a record-breaking pace, with third-quarter global ransomware attack frequency up 11 percent over the second quarter, and up 95 percent overall compared to 2022.8 This is only surprising to risk management professionals in that 2021 was also declared “the year of ransomware.”9 

More attorney nightmare fuel: In June, reports emerged that some of the nation’s top law firms had been breached, including three top-50 firms—Kirkland & Ellis, K&L Gates, and Proskauer Rose. Law firm breaches have spawned five class action lawsuits by plaintiffs alleging that the elite firms did not have adequate security to protect their data from cyberattacks. All were breached by the ransomware group Clop.10 If the nation’s top law firms can’t keep the bad actors out, does a typical lawyer stand a chance fighting off hackers and other invertebrates of the online multiverse? 

For those who fight for truth, justice, and secure network servers, something else happened in 2022 that finally gave the cyber-protection industry some insight into who is stealing data for ransom. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine for the second time on February 24, 2022, a disgruntled hacker working for Russian-based Conti opened the Twitter account @ContiLeaks and uploaded copies of emails, documents, and internal memos, exposing the detailed inner workings of a large-scale ransomware operation. 

Finally, experts could peer into the workings of a large, online criminal enterprise and what they found was disturbing. Conti, with up to 750 employees, acquired over $1.7B in ransom revenues in the previous 24 months. The group was also well-organized, with clear management, finance, human resources, and R&D functions, existing solely for the purpose of stealing money. It even was found to have an “employee of the month” bonus equal to half of earned salary.11 

What this means for those who run law firms is that the industry whose mission statement includes theft of client data and holding it for millions in ransom is well-organized, profitable, and presumably will only grow more formidable in the coming years. 

Securing a law firm from a ransomware nightmare involves basic preventative measures that we have known for some time: Use strong passwords, keep your Microsoft and IOS operating systems up to date, and back up your data regularly using a reliable cloud-based service. But perhaps one of the most critical measures for keeping a firm safe from ransomware attack involves employee education. The breached servers at Kirkland & Ellis may have been infiltrated as part of a phishing scheme that duped a network user into clicking on a link, exposing the network to a costly payload. That’s how a significant percentage of data breaches occur. 

Training the firm’s employees to spot email phishing schemes is critical for protecting the firm’s data. See how good you are at spotting phishing schemes by trying out the free online quiz at and then encourage your staff to do the same. Phishing Quiz presents a series of sample emails that include a variety of requests to click on a link or open a file that purports to be a legitimate document from a trusted colleague. In each sample the user must decide if it is “phishing” or “legitimate,” and the user’s Phishing Quiz score is revealed at the end. A hint for successfully achieving a passing Phishing Quiz score: proceed through the email samples with a healthy dose of paranoia. 



Get ready for the AI revolution 

When examining AI software and its potential impact on the future of the legal industry, we must remember that ChatGPT is just one tree in a forest. There are numerous software tools made for attorneys that employ artificial intelligence to help formulate documents and other work products quickly and accurately. Unfortunately for Steven A. Schwartz, the Manhattan attorney may always be remembered as the guy who turned in a brief full of false citations, conjured in a fit of hallucination by a beta-version of an AI application gone haywire. But there’s a reason many attorneys immediately embraced the promise of ChatGPT: Its results are jaw-dropping. 

ChatGPT uses a large language model combined with warp-speed processing to generate words, sentences, and paragraphs that shock the user. To learn how AI chatbots work, sign up for a free ChatGPT 3.5 account at and start a conversation using the most popular productivity tool since Microsoft Excel. Don’t worry, it won’t close your bank account or steal your soul. What it will do is answer questions, generate written content, provide topics and ideas for inspiration, translate 82 languages, construct lists, organize planning, explain concepts, proof-read, edit, and even write poetry. All without a typo or grammatical error. 

Now imagine combining the power of ChatGPT with a database that includes all cases and citations ever published, and every legal document your firm has ever produced. Do you see where this is going? 

Jacqueline Schafer is a Seattle, Washington attorney who recognized the power of AI while writing a law review article for the purpose of inspiring government, private sector, and nonprofit leaders to recognize the need for a coordinated investment in technologies that reflect the urgency of child welfare. She is now the founder and CEO of Clearbrief, a legal tech startup that is quickly transforming the legal writing process. Schafer’s Clearbrief ( has caught the attention of the legal tech industry, winning recognition as the 2023 Litigation Product of the Year at Legalweek, ALM’s industry leader conference where thousands of legal professionals gather to network and learn about cutting-edge technology for attorneys. Clearbrief is designed to assist attorneys in creating accurate pleadings by reading a firm’s documents and quickly constructing a draft, using AI for cite-checking and to generate exhibits, a table of authorities, and a hyperlinked final draft. 

Another breakthrough AI legal-tech solution is rapidly gaining attention through the work of Minnesota attorney Damien Riehl, VP and solutions champion at vLex. Vincent AI ( is vLex’s award-winning legal research assistant, designed to help lawyers build better arguments with unprecedented user control. The AI-powered tool accepts questions in natural language, conducts research in primary and secondary sources, presents a customizable source list as well as summaries of research and verifiable hyperlinks, and then creates research memos or arguments from the results in different formats. 

There are many more examples of AI-powered tools for lawyers, but the technology that is poised to transform how every firm operates and functions is built on a common principle: creating a tool that will not only collect firm documents and preserve them, but read them, process them, and quickly assist attorneys in creating practical and accurate first drafts of legal pleadings and forms. It is in this tech space that you will likely see rapid advances, year-over-year, that fulfill the promise of artificial intelligence valued by all lawyers. 

Todd C. Scott is VP of risk management at Minnesota Lawyers Mutual insurance company. For more information about AI for lawyers, or any other legal technology solution, Todd can be reached at













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