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Beyond the buzzwords: why you should be paying attention to tech if you’re in Legal.


What a time to work in the Legal sector! There's so many new technologies to think about; perhaps too many. There's cloud, there's automation, there's AI/Machine Learning, there's agile working, there's digital transformation… any more buzzwords you care to think of?

Unless you're part of this new (to use another buzzword) 'Millennial' generation, I imagine it gets a little confusing and tedious to research all this technology, and to attend countless seminars on how a robot is going to replace you - however true that could be!

And so, faced with this avalanche of tech, you might be asking yourself: what's the big fuss over technology, anyway?

Let's look at what Legal firms are trying to achieve. A client of mine - funnily enough, in the Legal sector and very much a visionary - aims to operate their IT function using the old US Navy design principle KISS: "Keep It Simple, Stupid". Following their lead, let’s take things back to basics and understand what the equivalent KISS objectives are for partners leading their firms.

  • Continue to be profitable
  • Create ability to grow and scale
  • Retain and attract the best talent on the market
  • Remain competitive and engage with clients
  • Keep operating costs as efficient as possible
  • Make it simple and easy for clients to do business with you

(Of course there are others if we drill into the detail, but remember - we're Keeping It Simple, Stupid!)

Now, there are many ways that partners and their senior leadership teams look to achieve these objectives. But - however hypocritical this may sound coming from the guy who’s just been poking fun at buzzwords - to achieve most of them, technology is essential.

Because the fundamentals that will help your firm achieve its objectives are to: align the right people, apply processes, educate users, analyse progress with adaptation and… embrace the technology!

Ask yourself:

  • How is it not going to be more efficient in the long term for a computer machine to review millions of legal documents in a tenth of the time it takes a human?
  • How can you grow and scale out your firm and services, if you build IT in-house and prevent your IT team from focusing on digitising and improving the experience for end users and client interaction?
  • Why will the top talent want to work at your firm if you don’t provide them with slick interfaces and the ability to work where, when and how they like?
  • How are you going to remain competitive if other firms, ABS’s and the Big Four have used technology to deliver legal services in a more cost effective way and you haven't?
  • How can it be simple to do business with you if you don’t enable your workforce to be more flexible and make it easy for clients to interact with them?

I'm not a lawyer and I don’t work at a law firm - so I am not pretending to be in your shoes. But through my engagement with IT leaders and Partners within my Legal customers, I have developed an understanding of their simple goals and I have seen the positive changes they have experienced with adoption of the right technology.

Still doubtful? I’ll leave you with this. Did you know that, according to an ILTA technology survey completed at the end of 2018, 69% of the firms responded that they expected to move to cloud? Now there’s an interesting stat…

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