Like most sectors, the law practice sector has undergone a lot of change as a result of the pandemic and the evolving climate that it presents. We have had to reimagine every aspect of not only the workplace, but how we do business, and how we interact with our clients and end users alike.
Legal professionals have had to adapt to new ways of operating. According to a recent Wolters Kluwer survey, 80% of lawyers said that their need for technology solutions had increased since 2021. However, the same survey showed that only 33% felt their firm was prepared to weather the storm. The research also highlighted how those legal firms that already leveraged technology outperformed others that hadn’t.
The changing expectations of legal clients
The past three years have accelerated clients’ demand for digitised content. Clients in all locations and sectors are adopting digitised ways of working that facilitate their agile working patterns. Firms that cannot offer products and services that fit into this model are adding friction to the relationship with their client.
Andy Newland, Head of IT at Mewburn Ellis, says that: “Digitised products and services are inherently more flexible so, by delivering these to our clients, we’re reducing friction with them. This allows our clients to reap the same benefits of efficiency and agility at their end of the transaction. By delivering digitised products and services that clients adopt readily, the relationship between the firm and its client base is entrenched.”
Embracing technology went from being a “nice to have” to a “must-have”. This is mainly driven by legal clients, who have lived and worked online in recent years, expecting everything to be digital.
The benefits of digitalisation:
1. A more flexible and smoother process
Although going digital may have its challenges, it doesn’t have to be hard work. The benefits drastically outweigh the drawbacks.
By choosing a strategic software partner, you’re introducing a partner that is an extension of your in-house team who can mitigate risk and help maintain (or increase!) velocity. A high-quality partner will also have a higher-than-average staff retention rate, which will provide a long-term solution and security.
Technology has the potential to streamline internal processes and make them both more efficient and more agile with respect to when and where the work is done. Digitised products and services are inherently more flexible and can help save both time and money through more efficient processes.
Back in 2018, McKinsey reported that 23% of a lawyer’s job could be automated. With further innovations in technology, including hyper-automation, we can expect this percentage to have increased even more. Of course, this doesn’t mean replacing lawyers with robots, but rather automating repetitive, manual tasks. By templating documents or digitally tracking files, legal professionals can use their time more efficiently and focus more on clients and revenue-generating activities.
2. Better collaboration
By delivering digitised products and services to clients, one can lower the friction between the two parties. This allows clients to reap the same benefits of efficiency and agility at their end of the transaction.
In recent years, technology has been a powerful enabler for a more secure collaboration as many of us have found ourselves working remotely. In the law practice sector digitised paper trails, online approval processes or templated contracts, for example, have been key in facilitating collaboration between parties – whether internal or external.
There are some potential security concerns related to this, but firms can implement several approaches to solve this issue including multi-factor authentication for internal accounts, document-level encryption and setting IP address restrictions. Overall, by embracing a more digitised work system, legal firms will receive the benefits of a more collaborative and interactive process.
3. Better user experience for both clients and employees
Delivering digitised products and services that clients can adapt readily not only benefits the relationship between the firm and its client base, but the firm’s employees as well. Technology is available to give employees a better user experience and help drive employee satisfaction.
Attracting and retaining the right legal talent is vital at a time when the job market is in favour of candidates. Adding to this is the fact the industry is seeing a new generation of tech-savvy lawyers entering the profession. Therefore, legal firms need to be equipped with the right technology to match the high-technology expectations of both technology-savvy professionals and their clients.
The bottom line
There are many benefits for the law practice sector to embracing digitalisation. Technology can not only help drive efficiency and support collaboration but also help create stronger relationships with clients and maintain employee retention in both the present and the future.