Over the past year, COVID-19 has accelerated the use of digital tools and platforms in the legal industry. This demand was brought on by law firms, corporations, and government agencies that needed an easy way to continue carrying out court hearings, shareholder meetings, contract negotiations, and more.
As a result, a number of legaltech startups have sprung up to accelerate the digital transformation of the legal industry. The legal tech market, which had revenues of $17 billion worldwide in 2019, is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 6% until 2025, when it is projected to be worth about $25 billion.
According to a 2020 Bloomberg Law study, many law firms and in-house legal departments agreed that outside counsel must increase the use of legal technology to be more efficient and improve their preparedness to use technology.
There are now software solutions for document storage, e-discovery, legal research, billing and accounting, practice management, video conferencing, and more. For many organizations, legaltech provides a way for them to automate manual tasks in order to save money and better serve their clients.
The challenge of providing security and legal validity in a virtual setting
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries issued stay-at-home orders, having a direct impact on interactions that normally require a physical presence. Schools around the world shifted to remote learning, and the healthcare industry also turned to popular web-based video conferencing platforms to maintain their operations.
While legal systems were quick to pass legislation and provide guidance on carrying out meetings safely and legally, the challenge with many of the legacy video conferencing platforms is that they have severe limitations regarding privacy, proof-of-attendance, and more. In an ABC News interview, former FBI agent Brad Garrett pointed out that Zoom has been a rich target for cybercriminals and malicious actors. Reports of hijacking or “Zoom bombing” court hearings, the absence of end-to-end encryption, and other security flaws, such as granting hackers the ability to take over a computer’s system and control the webcam and microphone, are just a few of the issues that have been reported in what is supposed to be a safe and confidential environment.
These security issues revealed the gaping holes that still exist in current video conferencing solutions and the significant opportunities for startups to introduce better solutions that fit the video conferencing security needs of particular industries. For example, in the education technology space, video conferencing platforms such as Class and InSpace have incorporated ID Verification and end-to-end encryption so that teachers can verify students and prevent meeting disruptions. Video conferencing platforms that follow strict compliance standards for the digital healthcare industry have also become popular. Startups like SteadyMD are taking an infrastructure approach, making it easier for other companies to offer telehealth services securely.
As for the corporate world, there are several laws and regulations regarding remote shareholder meetings, including identity verification of participants, recording of minutes, and more for the session to have any legal validity. These rules vary by country and jurisdiction, and several European countries and US states have outlined legislation for corporate meetings.
In many cases, real-time reception must be ensured, and the recording of attendance and votes must also occur through secure means. Councilbox has developed a platform for managing remote or hybrid corporate meeting processes that require legal validity. Incorporating blockchain technology, the platform features a secure voting system, identity verification of attendees, digital signatures, automatic minutes tracking, and more. Spain’s Ministry of Justice, the Spanish Olympic Committee, Booking.com, and many other organizations use the platform to facilitate their operations.
There is a significant demand for tools to document and validate virtual meetings properly, whether it’s a hybrid or completely remote meeting. According to Alberto Gómez, Managing Partner of Adara Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in deep tech startups, hybrid meetings (physical and virtual) with legal guarantee and traceability will quickly become the standard.
Technology that prioritizes security will lead the way
The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations worldwide to adopt remote or hybrid approaches to their work and digitize their infrastructure much sooner than many had planned. However, by coupling cybersecurity best practices with technology solutions that can provide legal validity, both meeting hosts and attendees have a way to participate in virtual meetings while ensuring the safety and legality of the event.
About the author:
Councilbox is a leading platform for holding online corporate meetings with legal validity from a single platform. From remote voting to the automatic drafting of minutes, Councilbox provides an agile and secure online conferencing solution, helping companies save resources and fulfill their regulatory compliance commitments. The company is headquartered in Spain.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.