Recently I read an article by Jordan Furlong, a Canadian based lawyer, entitled ‘An incomplete inventory of New Law’ which discusses the new breed of law firm models, new legal talent combinations, and technology used to change how lawyers work and deliver legal services.
In the article, Jordan describes “New Law” as: any model, process or tool that represents a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed.
This is a quote that resonates with me. As an IT Client Director specialising in the Legal Sector, I am all too aware of the technology empowering change within the legal profession which is providing the core to deliver value to the client - a client who has more legal power at their fingertips than ever before.
As you will be aware, today clients expect rapid turnaround, fixed fee/alternative fee pricing and to engage via any device at any time. But these demands and expectations from clients are sparking a myriad of challenges for the industry.
Although research has shown law firms are aware technology must be embraced to meet their full growth potential and meet demands, very few have actually taken the plunge and tackled this issue head on. Why? Simply because it’s a lot easier said than done.
Identifying the Challenges
Across the sector, firms are faced with the challenge of managing and sifting large volumes of documents that is consuming a huge amount of time.
The industry is deluged with case-critical paperwork, adding to the amount of time spent on administrative tasks needed to manage it. Even as firms are moving towards a digital-first model, an overwhelming amount of information is still largely paper-based.
Everything from case archives, pleadings, contracts, client records to patent documentation, is creating hurdles that prevent lawyers, legal practitioners and internal or independent providers of legal services from being able to quickly find and work with their documents.
I find that this isn’t the only challenge facing the sector. When looking towards digitisation, businesses needs to be aware of all the challenges that lie ahead. Here are just a few of the challenges I’ve recently come across:
- Mergers & Acquisitions - as market pressure means constant stream of companies acquiring others to grow market share or new expertise. This can be seen by the major global practices buying new legal ‘start up’ companies in past few years to ensure they continue to exist.
- New entrants - often operating low cost value models and the growing online fixed fee services.
- Personal injury referral banning - this has meant rapid change for some companies that built up around this area of litigation.
- Competition from Advocates - competing against Solicitors for business in traditional solicitors firms losing business to Advocates.
- Agility and flexibility – a need to work in ‘martini style’ of anywhere anytime thus a growth in "supertemps" and virtual workplaces.
- Value Pricing structures – moving towards this new model
- Migration away of experienced mid-tier staff – moving to start up and growing high paid flexible fintech, SAAS, E commerce and banking business.
So the burning question is, how do you overcome these challenges?
Remove Legacy to Build a Legacy
I have found that the first step is for Legal firms to take stock of the technology used within the firm and ask if it is truly fit for purpose. Systems that only meet the bare minimum requirements to carry out a task may seem perfectly viable, but legal professionals may be doing themselves and their clients a disservice due to time wasted using inefficient systems. Legacy IT will also prove a hindrance when the organisation prepares to embrace new technologies such as automation and AI.
Once the infrastructure is fit for purpose, organisations will be able to begin streamline processes in a way that decreases the amount of time spent on low value activities such as admin to enable higher levels of productivity. It will also allow the acceleration of client care and service, increasing visibility and accountability of hours.
ANS have helped many leading UK firms and regional practices to utilise technology to build flexible, agile environments that deliver value to end users and clients alike. Kennedy’s, Addleshaw Goddard and Hill Dickinson have all benefitted from ANS' award winning enterprise network and platform solutions.
Click on the law firms above to view their corresponding case studies.
Posted by Danny Lesage