The fact that technology is changing the way businesses are run isn’t a new thing. Computers have replaced typewriters, emails have replaced letters, databases have replaced filing cabinets. With each change in technology, there has been a change in client expectations – and today is no different.
Digital technology is forging ahead, bringing transformation across all business sectors. Traditional services are being replaced by more innovative, efficient, and secure processes, which ultimately meet client demand for a faster, simpler, and more tailored offering.
The legal sector is no exception to this, but because it is historically more traditional in operation, this means there is potentially further to go.
Introducing innovative software to more traditional spaces is not without its challenges, but delaying will only lead to the reality of a drop in talent, clients, and profitability. According to PwC’s annual survey of law firms, an average fee income growth of just 3% has been attained in recent years, and this has been attributed to the failure to keep abreast of new technologies.
So what are these challenges?
- Often, decision-makers pose the biggest form of resistance, as they have been practicing more traditional methods for the longest. The idea of incorporating the latest technology can be overwhelming. It’s a ‘better the devil you know’ attitude, and it can be hard to break through.
- The legal sector has historically worked almost solely on per-hour pricing strategies aligned with time spent and the complexity of the work. As with other sectors, the demand has moved to transparent pricing, so that clients know what they will be getting for the price they pay. Upfront fees are daunting due to the element of doubt that more work could be entailed than expected.
- In a space where phone calls and emails are the two most popular forms of communication, clients and employees alike now want to be able to communicate via multi-channel options including instant messaging, webchat, and social media. What’s more, making them wait for answers simply isn’t acceptable these days.
Technology in the legal sector
Law firms and legal departments don’t always have the best reputation for being up to speed with the latest technological advancements. There are many reasons behind this, but one sure way to stand out from the competition is to embrace technology with open arms.
The new breed of tech-savvy clients expect higher than ever levels of customer satisfaction, which means that efficiency, transparent pricing, and ease of communication through multiple devices are essential.
It’s not just about the clients though. As said by David Snell, partner and leader of PwC’s law firm advisory group, “Fundamental action is needed to future-proof the shape and operation of the legal sector. Technology will impact all areas, from client service delivery to business support and, importantly, staff recruitment and retention.”
Millennial workers won’t settle for outdated processes, and they want maximum flexibility in working conditions. Providing this means that law firms get the best in the talent pool, which in effect provides better customer service. It all ties together, but the crux is technology.
Solutions already adopted by legal firms
Times of change are always difficult, especially when technology is involved. There will always be workers who won’t come on the journey willingly. It’s crucial that companies invest in the correct products, services, and training to make the transition as smooth as possible for employees. Well-trained, happy staff will provide a much higher level of customer service.
International firm Clifford Chance has been working on a toolkit that involves an AI platform for its clients to access complex legal advice for a predetermined price. The platform filters thousands of pages of regulation and legislation according to their business type, clients, and products, streamlining the review process and providing draft clauses for adoption in documentation.
“By working with technology providers, we are able to package our advice into powerful products that save time and money, and enable our clients to deploy that information in a smart way throughout their organization. It also opens up our advice to a wider range of potential clients who might otherwise be priced out by the fees for one-off, bespoke analysis,” explains Monica Sah, financial regulatory partner at Clifford Chance.
Software such as DPS Spitfire Practice Management is one way that law firms can really start to integrate technology into their daily operations. Offering online case management, all collaborators have access from one central portal. The benefit for the employee? Flexible working hours and remote working opportunities. For the client? Fast responses. To find out more, get in touch with our friendly team.