How technology is forcing the legal sector to evolve

In Business Support

The legal industry has an uneasy relationship with new technologies. How can you take advantage of technology, and the sector’s glacial pace of uptake, to get ahead of the competition?
 

The legal industry has famously been slow to take advantage of innovative technology. Perhaps it goes with the territory: lawyers tend to be more thoughtful, cautiously calculating the risks and weighing the benefits. They so intuitively understand the industry that additional layers of new tech are met with justifiable scepticism. They wonder, ‘Will this really help my firm?’.

No surprise, then, that Gartner’s 2018 report into ‘digital readiness’ found 81% of corporate legal departments were unprepared for digitalisation.

But while that might be the right approach when dealing with cases, it leaves many firms playing a never-ending game of catch up as technology rapidly advances.
 

Responding to disruptive technology

Technology has radically altered the way we work. Even the COVID-19 pandemic – which transformed the idea of working from home from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to do’ – only served to hasten a shift that has long been occurring in workplaces up and down the country.

The legal sector is no different. It just hasn’t been as swift at responding to these changes. For a long time, firms have relied on slow, disparate (and often paper-led) systems; clients were drawn from high-street footfall; marketing the business meant good word-of-mouth. Today, these alone are not sustainable for any legal practice.

Despite the industry’s hesitancy, a study by the University of Sheffield found that lawtech ‘enables revolutionary change in practice’.

From a business perspective, it means altering the customer experience to meet modern expectations – it’s about creating faster, less formal client interactions; easier ways to pay; and emphasising a commitment to data security, which ‘influences clients and drives competition between firms.’

Perhaps most interestingly, the report noted that it brings ‘changes to firm culture’ that has ‘aided internal diversity in firms.’

You’ve probably already identified the need to upgrade your tech.

You can see how inefficient, costly, and uncertain your processes are.

You understand that, even as you read this, your competitors are exploring new ways to manage caseloads or market their businesses or reach new clients online.

And there are 4 main ways that technology is helping legal firms grow.



 
  • Data

Data is the lifeblood of the internet. It’s positively flowing with it. You can discover so much about potential customers through the information held on online tools like Google Trends and The Law Superstore. Analyse this data to inform business decisions, including how, where, and to whom you market your firm online. 
 
 
  • AI, machine-learning, and automation

Time is money. And AI, machine-learning, and automated tools save you both. Typically, these tools help lawyers manage caseloads, send emails, and other time-consuming administrative jobs that slow you down. In an industry where an estimated 23% of legal work can be automated, freeing up time to focus on business growth and new revenue streams is critical. It means less work, more accurate records, and a more productive, energetic legal team.
 
 
  • Communication

It’s never been easier to work with anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world. The global pandemic has transformed video calls and online collaboration from the occasional to the everyday. Not only has this made legal services more accessible wherever a client may be, as in the case of witnessing wills via video link, it means companies now have a broader talent pool to employ. So, competition between firms is becoming even more fierce.
 
 
  • Customer experience

At The Law Superstore, we always champion customer experience. That’s because it’s one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a company. In a real-world setting, this means creating a clear website, offering multiple contact channels, flexible billing methods, and, if you really want to meet expectations, a client hub or portal where they can view documents. Lead generation can help even if you don’t have a great website or want to bypass using it, since our platform gives potential customers your firm’s details without needing to go anywhere else.



 

How to introduce new technologies in your law firm

Whenever you plan the introduction of new tech and tools – whether it’s a company-wide case management system, or an efficient online lead generation platform like ours – there are several steps to take to prepare your firm.
 
  • Define your objectives

Long before implementation, decide what you want to achieve. Be realistic. Be precise. Far too often, businesses end up with technology that either doesn’t quite do what they need it to – necessitating time-consuming workarounds – or it does too much, making it as complex and as inefficient as previous systems and processes. Once you know what you want, you can decide which technology you need.

Identify:
  • What problems your business faces
  • How/which tools might solve the issue
  • What technology solutions industry professionals use
  • Who it’s for
  • What success looks like (and how it’s measured)
 
 
  • Create a roadmap

Introducing any new tools into the business takes time, so for that reason, once you’ve chosen a product or service, plan out your implementation. This way, you can minimise workplace disruption and keep a project on track. Your roadmap should be clear but open to some flexibility (technology, after all, can be a fickle beast). Ideally, project overview should be owned by one person. They will then be able to feedback to all key stakeholders on developments, ensuring a smoother journey.

Preparing your roadmap:
  • Use data and goals identified during your ‘defining the problem and solution’ stage
  • Cover a realistic time-frame from start to finish, and beyond
  • Factor in possible pitfalls and how to overcome them
  • Feature key milestones and measurements for success – and what meeting each one means for your company
 
 
  • Obtain employee buy-in

Technology initiatives generally fail for three reasons: they don’t fully align with business needs, they suffer mission creep (leading to greater costs with limited returns), or employees simply don’t use them. Bring your colleagues into the fold as early into the process as possible. You should be able to highlight why you’re making the change and how their roles will change for the better. Resistance to new technology is common – it’s the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality – but this can typically be overcome by being transparent. Even with The Law Superstore’s easy-to-use platform, we recommend offering training as soon as you can to familiarise employees. Your dedicated account manager is always on hand to answer questions and offer refreshers on using your partner dashboard.

To increase buy-in:
  • Highlight the value of any new tech
  • Be understanding and listen to employee concerns
  • Start training early
  • Offer ownership of sub-projects
 
 

Unlocking the opportunities of legal technologies

As the legal workforce becomes younger, more agile, and mobile, we’re starting to see technology adoption increase at a rate of about 6% year-on-year.

However, this is still arguably slow – presenting an opportunity for forward-thinking law firms to get ahead of the curve. While rivals play catch-up, your firm will be able to better position itself as ready to respond with smart solutions to an ever-evolving legal landscape.
 
 
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