Sophie Best, Senior Consultant, Jameson Legal Tech
In an era defined by rapid technological advancement, the legal industry is increasingly recognising the need to embrace legal technology (legal tech) to stay competitive and enhance efficiency. However, the implementation of legal tech in law firms is often fraught with challenges. Why do firms have difficulty adopting and implementing legal tech? What are the benefits associated with robust adoption? What can firms do to properly integrate legal tech into their firm? All this and more below.
Why Implement Legal Tech?
Before delving into the challenges, it is crucial to understand why law firms are drawn to legal tech in the first place. The legal landscape is evolving, with clients demanding more efficiency, transparency, and cost-effectiveness. Legal tech offers innovative solutions that can streamline processes, automate routine tasks, improve decision-making, and enhance overall client service.
Firms that properly implement legal tech will often benefit from increased efficiency as legal tech tools can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing legal professionals to focus on higher-value, strategic activities, leading to increased productivity and faster turnaround times.
Automation reduces the risk of human error, ensuring that legal processes are carried out with enhanced accuracy and compliance Moreover, legal tech can help in monitoring and ensuring compliance regardless of ever-evolving regulations, reducing the likelihood of costly errors.
The clients of today expect quicker response times and more transparent communication. Legal tech can facilitate better communication channels, provide real-time updates, and improve collaboration between lawyers and clients, ultimately enhancing and providing an improved client service.
Finally, implementing legal tech can lead to significant cost savings in the long run. Automation of routine tasks and the use of data analytics can optimize resource allocation, resulting in reduced operational costs for law firms.
Challenges in Implementing Legal Tech
Many firms have sought out legal tech solutions, working with consultants and vendors to ensure they’ve made the right choice and to avoid challenges with implementing the new tech and processes effectively.
One issue faced is a tale as old as time, comfortability, and difficulty deviating from the beaten path. Firms that have successfully worked a certain way for a long time often feel resistance to rocking the boat. Many are afraid of damaging what they’ve built by changing their processes too drastically.
Another difficulty is that new legal tech has traditionally been sourced by teams outside of the lawyers actually doing the day-to-day work. These teams might not have as much insight as needed to implement the right tech and processes. It is very important to have different stakeholders involved when researching and vetting new tech to ensure it’s going to be used well and offers the full benefits and advantages needed for success.
Integrating legal tech with existing systems and workflows can be challenging. Legacy systems may not be compatible with new technology, leading to disruptions in daily operations. These integration issues will persist if no effort is made to find solutions and ensure that your team’s tech stack solutions are compatible.
Strategies for Effective Legal Tech Implementation
Ensuring accountability is key to a successful tech launch. Like any project, there must be a clear leader and each member of the team must be responsible for their share. The leader should have clear goals and the tools needed to achieve success. This ‘adoption champion’ will create a core team to spread the word far and wide, helping maximise the success of your new tech.
Fostering a culture that embraces innovation and encourages legal professionals to explore and adopt modern technologies is paramount. Consider rewarding those who best adopt new technologies and encourage them to share their experiences with their colleagues. Give your team the tools to develop a technology-friendly culture.
Providing ongoing education and training programmes to equip legal professionals with the skills needed to leverage legal tech effectively, including not only lawyers but also support staff. Understanding is often the first step towards acceptance!
Instead of attempting a large-scale overhaul, consider starting small and scaling up. Starting with small, manageable pilot projects to test the effectiveness of legal tech solutions, giving your team a chance to see the benefits associated with new tech before scaling up implementation.
While the implementation of legal tech in law firms is not without its challenges, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. Embracing legal tech is not just about staying current; it is about future-proofing law firms and delivering better value to clients. By understanding and communicating the needs and benefits behind a newly implemented legal tech, firms will have a better chance of getting their team on board, better realising their goals.