Digital transformation hasn’t historically been a priority in law firms. Known for its old-school and traditional ways of operating, the legal industry has evaded much of the digital revolution that other industries have had no choice but to succumb to. That is, until the pandemic forced law firms to immediately implement technologies so they could continue to do business.
The level of digital transformation is very situational when it comes to law firms. Some firms are still resistant to moving too much of their business online, having only adopted technology like video conferencing out of necessity. Other firms are operating more like tech companies, embracing a variety of technologies that help staff do their work better and provide clients with an improved experience.
Here are the ways in which technology can impact your business and how to get started with implementation and digital transformation.
Why legal technology is important for law firms
Depending on the nature of your business and where your firm is in the digital transformation process, some types of technology might be a priority over others. Here are some of the ways in which technology can provide benefits to your law firm. Take stock of what would have the biggest impact for your specific business.
Automation: Software can automate many mundane tasks — such as contract management — eliminating many hours of manual labor that is both costly and time consuming.
Efficiency: Technology can often accomplish tasks in less time, with fewer steps, and more securely than manual or in-person processes. For example, solutions like the NotarizeSM platform allow you and your clients to get documents notarized 24/7, without having to wait for an in-person notary to be available. Notarize makes the traditionally in-person process of notarizing documents easier and more efficient by bringing them online.
Flexibility: Utilizing technology (such as video-conferencing software, contract management software, eSignature software, etc.) gives people the option to do work remotely, or at times outside of normal business hours.
Error reduction: Software that includes fact checking and document comparison capabilities can spot errors and correct them easily. eSignature technology also can reduce errors like missed signatures, as it ensures that clients sign everywhere you require them to in a contract.
Insight: AI-driven technology can read documents, scan images, analyze data and uncover information that can inform a case or improve a contract, helping lawyers to take the best approach for their clients.
Sales: Marketing and sales technology such as CRM systems and email marketing software helps law firms find and connect with clients easier.
There are many ways that law firms can improve their business with technology. The hard part of implementing new digital processes and solutions is getting everyone on board with changing the way they work. It helps to have a concrete plan in place to drive digital transformation from the top down.
Digital transformation checklist
Here are some of the most important steps when looking to implement new technology in a law firm — from sourcing solutions to getting your team on board.
- Determine inefficiencies and choose the right technology
People are more likely to be receptive to change when there’s a problem that affects them. It might be an obvious issue, or one they don’t even realize. Some people don’t know that there are better, more efficient ways to do things, so it’s up to the person facilitating the digital transformation to flag the problem and then find the right technology/software/solution to solve it.
- Get executive buy-in
Once the problem has been labeled and the proper solution determined, you will need to get executive buy-in. This is paramount for successful digital transformation because everyone affected by changes in technology needs to know that it’s a mandate coming from the top down.
- Solidify a rollout plan and choose a champion
Once you have executive buy-in, it’s time to start planning. Set the goals that you want to reach and determine a timeline. Then create a plan that rolls up to the goals of the project, and socialize that plan with executives who are supporting the initiative. Communication is key when it comes to digital transformation.
It’s also a good idea to appoint a “champion” within the organization or department that is going to be undergoing the transformation. This person should act as a cheerleader for the digitization efforts and be a driver of change by encouraging people to adopt the new technology and flagging any issues or resistance.
- Socialize the plan with the help of leadership
Once your plan, goals and timeline are approved by management, it’s time to socialize them with the company or specific department that you’re going to be working with to implement the technology. It’s best to do this in a setting where higher ups can be in attendance to show their support for the effort. Again, communication is key, so use this opportunity to explain the purpose of the digital transformation, how it will improve the way people work, what can be expected in the rollout and what the end goal is.
- Keep track of progress and push adoption
It’s essential to monitor progress throughout the rollout of a new technology. Depending on your goals, you should have periodic assessments to ensure that adoption numbers are rising and to monitor how it’s impacting employee’s efficiency and output. This is a good time to address any concerns or specific individuals who are particularly resistant to the new technology or digital process. You won’t be able to reach your goals unless everyone is on board, so it’s important to nip any opposition in the bud.
Socializing progress is also a great way to keep people involved and acknowledge their efforts of committing to a new digital process.
Bringing in new technologies and changing the way people work is never easy, but it is worth it. To learn more about how to become a law firm that uses technology to its benefit, check out our latest eBook: How to Successfully Facilitate Digital Transformation to Become a Digital-First Law Firm.
This article was originally posted on Law.com.