Nikec returned as a sponsor of the British Legal Technology Forum 2017 this year, with themes around; AI, cybersecurity, cloud, gamification and utilising tech to enhance efficiency, collaboration and embrace digital working. One of the key takeaways I took from the day was law firms are embracing technology to change traditional working practices and win clients. It was a great opportunity to catch up with partners and clients, as well as meet some new faces too.
Tech Trends in Law Firms
I listened to DWF’s CEO Andrew Leaitherhead talk ‘Where Law Meets Technology: A CEO’s View’, where he gave a leaders perspective on the big technological trends for law firms. These trends included; document process automation, digital platforms and virtual assistants. Another area he highlighted was analytics and search, which he said is the biggest area in client focus. Scoping and pricing tools are used to capture value and help agree with the client what the firm is going to do, and work with the client so they can see how DWF will approach it. Another technological trend is social networks and communications, and embracing technology that enables and allows employees to work collaboratively. Other topics he mentioned were gamification and virtual reality machine learning and AI, and online service and market places.
Leitherhead highlighted key areas for driving change, and embracing technology to change traditional working practices.
The Right Protocols and Procedures
It is important to have rules and procedures for using new technology, particularly for lawyers. DWF use an internal social network system, but lawyers were unsure of what they could publish on it. As lawyers have to follow protocols and procedures in their work life, it is important to consider this when implementing tech. Having a best practice guide for new tech will allow lawyers to refer back to this, if they are unsure, and help them to embrace tech.
When speaking about client pressures, Leitherhead agreed with the suggestion that clients are concerned about where there data is kept. But the biggest pressure the firm felt was delivering the best solution to the client for the lowest cost.
Getting the Buy In
Leitherhead said that when trying to get the buy in from employees with new tech to go to the most resistant people first. Then getting the buy in from the rest is much easier. Additionally he highlighted that often the most resistant were partners, and trying to change their traditional working processes. This is because the way they have been used to conducting business and winning clients has been successful in the past. So they find it more difficult to embrace new tech and change processes to help win clients. Whilst millennials working at the firm find it much easier. However, the best thing to help drive this change is the client, and their demands.
Technology available to the legal market is there to help firms run better and win clients. It is fuelling the changes to many traditional working practices in law firms. But it is important to get the lawyers and partners to embrace this technology, in order for it to be successful. Ensuring the right policies and procedures are in place for lawyers to refer to will help this transition. However, the biggest driving force for change is the client, and they want their solution at the best price.