Law firms are coming around to embracing new technologies. Historically reliant on human capital, law firms have been a bit slower than other industries to welcome the move to digital, but that is beginning to change. After the pandemic required many law firms to embrace a variety of new technologies to keep business moving online, it’s more clear than ever that legal technology can improve accuracy and efficiency, free up lawyers to close more business and focus on strategic work, and improve outcomes for clients.
As law firms continue their move to digital, determining which legal technology to implement requires some planning. Innovation is everywhere, but not every legal technology is a good fit for every law firm. This guide will explain how to pick the right legal technology.
Why legal tech is important for law firms
Digital transformation is coming to the legal sector across many different parts of the business. Three out of four law firms have a dedicated professional focused on technology to support automation of key processes and many are using AI technology for legal research. Other technology is just starting to become more widespread. For example, only 20% are using virtual assistants and chatbots.
While every law firm has unique needs, legal technology provides a number of important benefits. It’s important to know this before picking the right legal technology.
- Automation: Software can automate many mundane tasks, such as scanning files, eliminating many hours of manual labor that is both costly and time consuming.
- Efficiency: Technology can accomplish tasks in less time and with fewer steps, saving trips to a courthouse or time spent sorting through documents. Solutions like the Notarize platform make traditionally in-person processes easier by bringing them online.
- Flexibility: Moving online gives people the option to do work remotely, or at times outside of normal business hours.
- Error reduction: Technology that includes fact checking and document comparison capabilities can spot errors and correct them easily.
- Insight: AI-driven technology can read documents, scan images, analyze data and uncover new information that can inform a case, improve a contract or change a direction, 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.
Another important element to consider is the fact that many people have embraced going digital, and actually prefer doing business online. Providing digital offerings gives clients the option to choose in-person or virtual, creating a competitive edge and the ability to appeal to a wider audience. It also increases efficiency for the firm. For example, 68% of law firms currently use client portals to communicate, saving up to 10 hours each month.
How to pick the right legal technology for your firm
For law firms with many clients, investing in client portals, remote deposition software and even AI-driven technology to analyze information may be at the top of the legal tech list. For corporate firms, where much of the communication is done through email, but there are huge amounts of data and documents to manage, automation software and natural language processing may be a better set of technologies to embrace first.
Each firm must first conduct an internal assessment of the areas that could benefit most from the addition of new technology. This process is actually a two-way exercise, as many partners and members of the firm may not even know what technology is available. While a bit complex, tackling both assessments at the same time can get the ball rolling:
Select a tech champion: Designate a technology champion inside of the company. This person is typically technically savvy, or they may be in operations or marketing, or an enthusiastic partner. Their primary goal is not technical, rather, they are the main champion of digital transformation. The tech champion’s primary responsibilities are to promote use of new technology and help to smooth the implementation process.
Meet regularly to discuss tech: The tech champion should hold a regular meeting with key stakeholders in tech, marketing, operations and with partners to share what they are learning from different members of the firm about their needs/pain points, and then uncover technology solutions that might be valuable.
Talk to vendors: Vendors can provide important information including the requirements for a technology to work, the cost, the ramp-up time and training. They can also share case studies of other firms that can help give internal stakeholders a better understanding of what to expect.
Attend industry events: As digital transformation heats up in the legal space, more and more time at industry events is dedicated to the benefits and hurdles associated with this change. Hearing from peers about their own experience and getting a chance to ask tough questions can help prepare a firm for the process.
Elements to consider when selecting legal technology
Creating a process to uncover tech opportunities is one way to ensure that law firms learn as much as they can before making a decision about what technology to select. It’s especially important to keep everyone aligned around the benefits of the technology, and prioritize based on potential cost savings and ROI.
Often, as people become involved in discussions about digital transformation, they get “shiny object syndrome” and are distracted by whatever offering is new and cool. Just because another law firm has implemented AI-driven data processing doesn’t mean it’s right for another firm. And just because social media or mobile apps are popular in other industries doesn’t mean it’s the most important element to focus on at every firm.
The tech champion and all stakeholders must consider the costs and benefits of each technology when picking the right legal tech. It’s important to keep an eye on what will make the biggest positive impact with the least amount of expense and work involved. As these wins start to add up, the firm will start to see the rewards and selecting the right technology (and implementing it) will become easier.
Check out our Guide to Digital Transformation in Law Firms for an in-depth break down of how to implement new technology in the legal industry.