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Why Lawyers Should Use Managed Services Providers for API Integrations

By Josh Blandi

When it comes to using legal data to its fullest potential through automating processes with APIs, most small to medium-sized law firms see it as an insurmountable, Herculean challenge because they often lack the technical capacity and expertise in-house to make it happen.

This three-part series on deploying legal data APIs will:

  1. Walk you through automating cumbersome tasks with APIs, or application programming interfaces (without learning how to code yourself), by engaging with managed service providers (MSPs).
  2. Take a detailed look at how the process works from the perspective of MSPs that have assisted law firms in making their automation ideas a reality.
  3. Highlight takeaways from law firms that have gone through the process of engaging with MSPs to build automated solutions.

Before we dive into why you should engage MSPs to help your law firm take advantage of APIs, it’s important to reimagine how your firm can automate manual, ongoing tasks to make your life easier and your firm more profitable.

If this is the first time you’re reading about APIs, or you need a refresher, take a moment to read this article on “APIs for Lawyers: Saving Time Through Automation.” It will give you some real-world examples of how you’re already using APIs in your everyday tasks, from withdrawing money at ATMs to ordering your favorite pizza online. It also provides some concrete examples of how other firms are using APIs to remove time-consuming, nonbillable tasks.

To give you a sense of what you can do with legal data APIs, here are some of the most common use cases for law firms:

  • Automating business development and lead generation.
  • Updating and tracking ongoing cases.
  • Downloading court documents on-demand.
  • Eliminating the need to log in to PACER or state court databases.
  • Gathering competitive intelligence on your clients and competitors.
  • Streamlining your case research and developing winning litigation strategies.

These are just a handful of the most popular ways firms are using legal data APIs to modernize their legal practices, achieve the work-life balance we’re all after, and boost profitability in the process.

Now that we have a general understanding of what APIs can do for you, let’s dive into how you can integrate them into your practice without needing to learn how to code or hire your own legal engineers.

The growth of the legal technology market has reached new heights in recent years, with a robust and sprawling ecosystem of different types of providers ranging from legal data as a service to contract lifecycle management, matter management and document management, e-discovery, CRMs and much, much more.

But how can solo practitioners, small law firms and medium-sized firms take advantage of the booming legal tech ecosystem without an engineering and IT team dedicated to more than just keeping the basic technology infrastructure running? Just as we shared previously that legal data is no longer only for BigLaw, leveraging legal technology is no longer something out of reach for smaller law firms.

Rather than hiring a full-time engineer or application developer to integrate legal data APIs for your firm, you can engage an MSP to handle your technology development needs. At their core, MSPs are third parties you can outsource business administration and management responsibilities to, and they are most commonly hired to handle IT services needs.

Much like how in-house legal departments hire outside counsel to handle litigation, law firms often hire MSPs because it makes sense from both an operational and financial perspective.

To put it in a more digestible format, here are some top reasons law firms should consider hiring an MSP:

  • Reduce your overall costs and the time to complete API integrations.
  • Leverage the experience of professionals who have successfully managed similar projects and know what pitfalls to steer clear of.
  • Avoid the pain of having to recruit and retain engineers in the ongoing talent war in the legal industry.
  • Ensure business continuity by eliminating your dependency on employees who may leave or “quiet quit” in the middle of building out your API integrations.

Still on the fence about hiring an MSP to start utilizing legal data APIs? Consider two other factors:

  • First, your competitors and your clients are already using MSPs to successfully handle their API integrations, so there’s no need to fear the consequences of being an early mover in this space.
  • Second, the broader MSP market is very mature and was valued at well over $100 billion in 2021 by leading market research firms, with projections that it will reach a valuation of several hundred billion dollars in the coming years, due to the increasing use of MSPs across the globe.

Don’t Wait to Automate: Modernize Your Law Practice With APIs

There’s no need to sit on the sidelines when it comes to automating mundane aspects of your law practice with the latest legal technology. Reliable alternatives to hiring engineers and developers in-house for your API integration needs are already being used by other law firms and the wider business community. Take advantage of the available technology and don’t miss out on the opportunity to modernize your firm. 

Stay tuned for the next article in our series, where we take a closer look at how law firms are automating with APIs from the perspective of managed service providers in the legal industry.

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Josh Blandi Unicourt Josh Blandi

Josh Blandi is the CEO and co-founder of UniCourt, a SaaS offering using machine learning to disrupt the way court records are organized, accessed and used. UniCourt provides Legal Data as a Service (LDaaS) via its APIs to AmLaw 50 firms and Fortune 500 businesses for accessing normalized court data for business development and intelligence, analytics, machine learning models, process automation, background checks, investigations and underwriting. Follow him on Twitter  @JoshBlandi and @UniCourtInc.

 

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