By Andy Hoyt
As a relative newcomer to the legal tech world, I have learned that every law firm has its own uniqueness which contributes to the “secret sauce” that makes it different and special. Legal technology providers are sometimes frustrated by this uniqueness because it can be a formidable barrier to technology automation. However, it is possible to preserve the firm’s uniqueness while still helping modernize and transform their operations.
As traumatic as the COVID-19 pandemic was for law firms, the silver lining was that it accelerated their decision and view towards adopting new technology and emerging platforms. The pandemic led to increased adoption and prompted moves to the cloud, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), deeper security, and other productivity-enhancing systems.
Although law firms have begun to lean towards more innovative business solutions, they still do many things manually. The path to success is not to obliterate the firm’s uniqueness or individuality but build solutions that preserve the firms’ flexibility and creativity. If legal tech providers can deliver systems that can accomplish this balance, law firms will be more open to changing their processes and adopting new technologies that increase their bottom line.
Today, legal technology companies are on their own journey of development and discovery, and we are passionate about what we do. Our reason for being is to make software that law firms will benefit from. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to respect the uniqueness of law firms and tailor technology to their needs.
As we follow a path to legal tech innovation, here are five keys to keep in mind:
- Solve Critical Business Problems – The Bigger, The Better!
Tech for law firms has been around for a long time, so it would be easy to think all the problems have been solved, but that is far from the case. As software developers, we are in an ideal position to objectively examine a law firm’s inner workings. We can see where their pain comes from, and where the breakdowns occur. These areas include Outside Counsel Guidelines (OCGs), work allocation and billing, and other daily challenges.
Technology can solve these problems, and by tackling the larger problems first, providers can solve problems faster and establish a lean-in culture toward tech adoption. If the firm identifies distressing problems as part of its uniqueness, the tech provider must show them that solving these issues will make their firm better, stronger, and enhance their ability to deliver more effective services to their clients.
- Create Tech That Doesn’t Require Massive Training
It’s human nature – anything that requires tons of training or documentation is more likely not to be used to its full capacity, if at all. The easier the products are to use, the more likely people at the law firm will use them.
- Make it Unified and Accessible Across Multiple Devices
Most of today’s lawyers and legal staff want to work wherever they are, and they prefer the interface to be the same on their laptops, tablets, home computers, and smartphones. This is the case whether the firm is small with just a few lawyers or huge with thousands of employees. Legal tech providers should aim to give them that seamless, unified experience from any device. By taking on this task as a provider, we can make the client experience for law firms more effortless.
- Give Customers What They Want – One Person at a Time
Each person at the law firm will have an individual set of priorities based on the role they play. When people log in to a tech solution, they want to see what is relevant to them and the firm only wants them to have access to what they are authorized for. The tech system can store and organize all data on the back end, but it can present that data differently to each person at the firm, if desired. This kind of granular customization may be more onerous on the provider’s part, but it’s worth doing. The result dovetails with the firm’s uniqueness while also accommodating individual needs.
- Collaboration Within Leads to Better Solutions
In the legal software world, everything is constantly evolving. For cloud tech providers, it is crucial for the company to bring together its cloud operations and engineering teams for greater collaboration. These combined resources will mean that developers can successfully write, test, support, and operate their code, leading to better-quality solutions.
The path to success is not to obliterate the firm’s uniqueness or individuality but build solutions that preserve the firms’ flexibility and creativity.– Andy Hoyt, Chief Technology Officer at Aderant