Tech Trends in Family Law: Practical Tips for the Modern Practitioner

Aug 12, 2023By Trent Kubasiak
Trent Kubasiak
In an era where technology penetrates every facet of our existence, family law is not exempt from this digital revolution. Far from the traditional image of family lawyers embroiled in stacks of paper and face-to-face consultations, the field is increasingly incorporating technological innovations that are here to stay. If you are a modern family law practitioner, it is time to not just embrace this change but to leverage it for a more efficient and responsive practice.

According to Clio’s most recent Legal Trends Report, an industry benchmark compiled from tens of thousands of legal professionals, the change is substantial and likely permanent. Bryce Tarling, Senior Content Strategist for Clio, notes, “83% of family lawyers were meeting with clients virtually in 2020 and plan to continue doing so.” This is not a temporary detour but a mainstay of contemporary family law practice.
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Gone are the days of rifling through stacks of paper. Digital case management solutions have arrived, providing unprecedented levels of organization and instant access to case files.

Practical Tip: Choose a platform with robust data security features. A system that allows for seamless team collaboration can be invaluable. Make it a routine to back up all data and encourage clients to engage with these platforms for efficient communication.

E-Filing and Virtual Courtrooms: The New Normal

The courtroom experience has changed significantly with the adoption of e-filing systems and virtual appearances. No longer must lawyers be physically present in every jurisdiction where they practice.

Practical Tip: Different courts have unique e-filing requirements. Take the time to familiarize yourself with them to avoid submission errors. For virtual court appearances, ensure a stable internet connection and an interruption-free environment.

Artificial intelligence is quickly becoming an invaluable tool for legal research, combing through vast databases in mere seconds.

Practical Tip: While AI is a robust tool for research, its findings should be double-checked. Take the extra time to ensure that your research is thorough and perfectly tailored to your case’s specifics.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR): The Future is Flexible

With 58% of clients stating that technology is now more critical to them than before the pandemic, mediation and negotiation have logically extended into the virtual world. ODR platforms offer unique flexibility, especially in the often emotionally charged field of family law.

Practical Tip: Prepare clients for the ODR process by explaining its benefits over traditional methods. Ensure the platform you choose is user-friendly and secure.

Video Conferencing for Client Meetings: Personal Connections in a Digital Age

Tarling highlights, “56% of clients now prefer video conferencing over a phone call.” Distance is becoming less of a barrier to meaningful client interactions, and legal practitioners should adjust their practices accordingly.

Practical Tip: Investing in high-quality video and audio equipment can make these interactions more engaging and effective. Professional attire and a suitable background set the right tone for these digital encounters.

Electronic Discovery (eDiscovery): The New Frontier in Evidence Gathering

No longer confined to paper documents, evidence in family law cases can range from emails to social media posts, all unearthed effectively through eDiscovery tools.

Practical Tip: While eDiscovery is incredibly potent, it must be wielded carefully. Always adhere to privacy regulations and ensure that any data collected is both relevant and admissible in court.

Document Automation: Precision Meets Efficiency

Document automation tools not only expedite the creation of legal documents but also minimize human error. However, automation should not replace the personalized approach that sets a practitioner apart.

Practical Tip: Regularly update document templates to align with current legal stipulations. Always customize these documents to meet the unique needs and circumstances of each client.

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The Road Ahead

Family law practices have no choice but to evolve in this changing landscape. As technology becomes more integrated into our professional lives, lawyers who adapt quickly will likely find themselves better positioned to meet their client’s changing needs. To quote Bryce Tarling, “These shifts will be permanent in many ways.”

Adopting a tech-first strategy in family law is not just a smart move; it is becoming increasingly essential for any legal practice aiming for sustainability and growth in this digital age.

Training is Key

As with any new tool, training is crucial. Not just for you, but for your entire team. To stay ahead, continuous learning is essential. If you’re looking for tailored training sessions on the integration of technology in family law, check out our online training courses.

Embracing technology in family law is not about replacing the human touch, but about enhancing efficiency and accuracy. As a modern practitioner, riding this wave of technological advancement will not only elevate your practice but also ensure that you deliver top-notch services to your clients in this digital age.

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