Digital transformation was accelerated during the pandemic as millions of people moved their daily activities online. From grocery shopping to home mortgages, different industries were forced to update many of their traditionally in-person transactions to work remotely. So how has digital transformation affected law firms? And how do law firms compare to other industries?
The good news about digital transformation in law firms
Like many other industries, lawyers and their staff have experienced an acceleration in digital transformation over the past few years, which is kickstarting a new era in digitally-enabled legal processes. Although the legal profession has historically been slow to adopt digital practices, that is starting to change as more lawyers and their staff see the benefits of digitizing the way they do business.
Several reports show that law firms have started investing in the technology they need, but that staff is often slow to adopt these new tools and processes. Gartner predicts that legal spending on digital technology will increase 200% by 2025. That will equate to about 12% of in house budgets for legal firms. While Gartner also notes that many law firms are not making the most of the technology that they do have, there is a huge opportunity for improvement. By 2025, the research firm forecasts that firms will only be leveraging 30% of the value of their client lifecycle management software.
Previously, most of the move to digital was focused on automating mundane tasks and moving paper information online. While important for more efficient operations, these moves did little to “transform” law. However, during the pandemic, many law firms saw more transformative benefits of digital. For example, virtual depositions showed that even important parts of a case can take place remotely. And firms started to see the value of hiring remotely, and of using legal marketplaces to reach specialists more quickly.
The law firms that see the value in more digital investments and embrace these innovations will find that they provide cost savings and productivity benefits.
Room for growth in law firm digital transformation
With many law firms still slow to embrace digitization, now is a good time to focus on making the most of the technology that is already available in-house, and use this as a way to showcase the upsides of digital transformation. Law firms can also educate their staff on the digital tools and options available that provide benefits beyond current practices. This education process is the first step for law firms to create momentum to adopt more digital processes in the future, and become more focused on successful digitization.
Here are some of the ways to drive digital transformation within a legal organization:
- Share examples of other firms or even other people in the firm that are further along in their digital transformation. Many law professionals are used to their own processes, while others may be fearful that they might not be following protocol with new digital options. By sharing clear examples, some of that fear and hesitancy will be reduced.
- Focus on one opportunity at a time that will provide clear and measurable benefits for many people in the firm. For example, if depositions are very time consuming for staff, you might consider investing in digital deposition technology and share positive stories to support it. Clients and witnesses may be glad that they can be in the comfort of their own home, while lawyers may appreciate the reduced travel time and convenience of having a video recording.
- Encourage more people to “go paperless” when possible. Sharing the benefits of digital documents including efficiency, accuracy and security is a simple way to remind legal staff that going digital is more practical.
Digital transformation will happen for law firms as younger generations expect to utilize technology to streamline processes in their job. The law firms that make the effort to lean into the technology they already have and create processes that encourage more digital innovation across their staff will gain the most momentum and the most opportunity in the long run. Emphasizing digitization now will lead to a better and more efficient law firm in the future.