Digital Transformation in the Legal sector: some key takeaways from BLTF 2019


Attending the British Legal Technology Forum (BLTF) in London last week highlighted the increasing importance and emphasis on Digital Transformation (DX) within the Legal sector. 

The event was very well attended with a broad cross-section of legal organisations to engage. For me, the key message shining through the keynote discussions, conversations and breakouts was:

"How can Legal organisations use Digital Transformation intelligently to optimise operations and create a greater form of agility in digital platforms?"

This is not about wholesale change, but more careful investment, the aim being to:

  • Reach customers more effectively by leveraging all digital channels
  • Improve customer intimacy by exposing information and access to case data
  • Optimise back office and case effort to reduce overheads and increase margins

Legal organisations recognise customers (especially "Generation Y": those born in the 80's and 90's) now expect digital/multi‐channel access. In every aspect of daily life, the expectation is that organisations are accessible via phone, web, mobile and mail, and that this interaction should be near seamless - with easy information access to progress the service.

Security was also a big talking point at the forum. Cyber-attacks constantly evolve and cybercriminals are now using the cloud and online communities to indiscriminately target vulnerable points in IT ecosystems. For example, last year over one million credentials from the UK's top law firms were found up for sale on the dark web.

The problem for smaller firms is that, while they face the same attack threats as the larger enterprise organisations, they lack the spending power to drive advanced security features into operations. This is why, in recent years, the sector has seen an increased level of breaches of smaller organisations.

As a result, there were many discussions at the event about exploring how medium-sized legal firms can remain cost-effective by driving smarter security, and about which smart security services could be accessed to take advantage of external expertise and capability rather trying to achieve this internally.

The most popular forum talks were those that covered new or updated Legal-specific Software-as-a-Service applications such as Luminance and IManage, and those concerning the topics of how Artificial Intelligence and Information Analytics can improve the productivity of Legal staff or increase the win probability.

To embrace these opportunities, legal firms need to consider how they adapt their IT and business teams to evaluate which DX options support business objectives and offer quantifiable business value. Some of the executives I had the pleasure of speaking with had set up small 'innovation teams' who could be freed from daily operational requirements to focus on business value.

I full advocate this approach. In fact, it is one of the key things I work on with customers, helping them to review how to adapt culturally and organisationally to deliver a successful DX strategy.

This is especially important to emphasise since most Legal firms currently spend 90‐95% of their time supporting 'business-as-usual' operations, and this is reflected in my daily conversations with Legal IT executives.

The most successful law firms will carefully embrace a DX strategy, leveraging trusted partners to deliver expertise and to help challenge the status quo. From golden circle firms to challengers, if the digital platform is agile and secure, then the business can embrace change and stay ahead of the competition.

We are reaching a crossroads in the legal sector as digital native (cloud-focused) companies such DoNotPay and LegalZoom are gaining traction. Legal has been one of the last sectors to fully appreciate the need for change, but at least firms are appreciating that the capability and power of cloud, AI and collaboration technology can truly empower them to innovate.

If you are a law firm interested in exploring how Exponential‐e is assisting Legal firms - and organisations across every sector - to develop a Digital Transformation strategy and deliver tangible value to business outcomes through careful digital investment, please get in touch.

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