In 2015 PwC published a report that said 94% of the law firms they interviewed told them improving the way they use technology would be their top priority during the coming year. Much of their focus at that time was on replacing certain parts of their fee earners’ workload using technology (most notably AI). Cloud computing, research and making better use of the data they have available was also referenced.
However, after what can only be described as a tumultuous year for us all, Legal Tech has pushed its way back into the headlines. Many believe it offers the most straightforward way to adapt to an increasingly difficult trading environment and deliver the more agile way of working that both your clients and colleagues want.
While it has long been seen as the preserve of the largest (and most heavily resourced) firms, it is becoming increasingly clear that Legal Tech will also have a significant impact on regional and smaller ‘high street’ firms.
This end of the market has continued to struggle with growing cost constraints, a more challenging clientbase and greater competition. With so much in play and so much to overcome, it is felt Legal Tech could finally provide the vital cost, time, and service efficiencies these firms will need to preserve their share of their local market.
Why should your firm embrace Legal Tech?
Few if any partners meetings during the last year have not been focussed on profitability. For the majority this has involved finding new ways to insulate fee revenue while reducing operating costs and, unfortunately, headcount.
For us maintaining this delicate balance perfectly summarises why law firms should embrace Legal Tech.
There is absolutely no doubt that growth would make for a more exciting conversation, but the current realities of the legal market require more stringent action. This has been brought into even sharper focus by the fact your competitors will almost certainly be working on how best to use Legal Tech to help them and the last thing you can afford at such a highly competitive time is to be left behind.
The need to increase profitability and keep pace with your competitors is of course a compelling argument to adopt legal tech. However, we’d suggest there are five more practical reasons for you to consider.
1. Increased Efficiency
The better your technology, the more efficient you will become.
Whether you are investing to help your fee earners to work faster or to make it easier for your clients to interact and work with you, implementing the right technology will give your firm an invaluable commercial edge.
And having the right systems in place will make it easier for your clients from day one.
The main things that can put a client off at the start of your relationship are the difficulty of finding the right person/right information and clumsy onboarding procedures. Both of these can be tackled and rectified before they irritate a prospective client or worse, force them to find an alternative.
2. Increased profitability
If you can do more work more quickly and more accurately, you will automatically become more profitable, particularly as your new solutions will remove duplicated tasks and reduce the requirement for unnecessary human intervention.
Getting better work back quicker will make your clients happier. This should lead to more new opportunities, a higher number of referrals and – if you are in a shared or panel situation – put you in the best possible position to increase your share of wallet.
Again, this will have a direct effect on your profitability by reducing your cost of sale and cutting down your reliance on expensive ‘new business’ marketing.
3. Increased Productivity
While most of the available technologies can improve productivity, not every solution will work for every practice.
You need to choose the solutions that address the specific issues your firm faces. For example, if double-handling or repetitive admin processes are preventing your fee earners from doing what they should be doing – earning fees – you need to find systems that will absorb these tasks for them.
While there is of course a cost involve in automating certain parts of your workflow, the additional time this will create and the increased speed at which the most important tasks will be completed will again only have a positive effect on your profitability and your overall client experience.
4. Increased appeal
Within the legal market reputation can never been downplayed; the more positive things your clients say, the more new enquiries you will generate. In terms of a larger firm these enquiries are most likely to arrive because of a client or professional referral. For a smaller firm they could be the result of higher scores on online review sites like Trustpilot.
The easiest way to get people to say nice things is to take the best possible care of them.
We’ve already looked at how to improve the way they start their client journey by making it as easy as possible to find exactly the right person, get the right advice and speed through the client engagement process but what happens after that?
How can you turn ‘I need advice’ into an instruction as quickly as possible?
How can you make day-to-day communications easier?
How can you make it easier for clients to identify and receive the additional services they need?
How can you make sharing and signing off the resultant legal documentation as easy as possible?
5. Increased Security
Since the advent of GDPR in May 2018 and repeated cyber-attacks involving law firms, the need to make client and financial data totally secure has heightened.
And this requirement has taken on even greater significance as working from home has meant more data is being shared remotely across multiple locations on a daily basis.
Technology can play an enormous part in keeping your firm’s data secure. This is not only an ISO requirement you need to meet. A breech could cause irreparable reputational damage, damage that would not only impact on the client relationship/s involved but also force your wider and prospective clientbase to look for safer alternatives.
Legal Tech at CM.com
As the global leader in conversational commerce, our interest in Legal Tech stemmed from knowing we can enable law firms to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Our range of cutting edge yet easy to implement communications and payment platforms are proven to make clients’ lives easier by encouraging seamless interaction with the firm across multiple channels. And as we’ve said, the easier you make it for your clients to interact with your firm, the more efficient, productive, appealing, secure and - most of all - profitable your firm will become.
Wondering how to evaluate the right Legal Tech for your firm? Click here to read our next blog.