Firms again ranked keeping ahead of technology changes as a top challenge

May 3, 2016

Law firms ranked “ensuring firm keeps up/ahead of technology changes” as one of the top 3 challenges they face.

In a recent industry survey, when asked to rank the challenges they face, law firms ranked “ensuring firm keeps up/ahead of technology changes” in the top 3. [1] This is reflected in the fact that while firm expenses declined over the 2015 financial year, the trend of relying on technology to achieve efficiencies continued, which saw expenditures on technology increased 2.4% on the previous year. [2]

How do we address technology changes - practically - to position a firm for future success?

Here are three tips:

1) Don't just embrace technology - help develop it

Legal technology plays a huge role in the evolution of the way we practice law. For example, one third of firms plan to add new online services to their offerings, and 73% of firms will make changes to automate their systems .

These, of course, rely on having great technology.

Embracing technology isn't enough. Lawyers need to drive its development. A practical way of doing this is to give feedback to our technology provider. By helping them think like lawyers, we can improve operational efficiency while gaining ourselves some valuable time to manage all the change!

 2) Look past technology to invest in human capital

While we invest in technology, don't forget to devote sufficient resources to human capital. The intangible asset values some firms are seeing are due to a merger of the clever use of technology with human intellect. We have already seen top tier firms increasing their focus in this area.

We're ramping up the level of investment that we're making in our grad lawyers… to really focus on their professional development and learning.

Quoted in March 2016

Kate Jordon, Clayton Utz’s deputy chief executive partner

3) Create an appetite for effective change

Fast transformation is hard to pull off. Often, sudden change is a knee-jerk response to what a competitor does. While we do need to learn from our competition, we also need to realise that no change is worthwhile if the users don't welcome it.

This is where culture comes in. ASIC has been quite vocal on the topic of culture, such as should great interest in the role of culture in driving conduct and what this means for how we adapt to changes like digital disruption and globalisation; this was the theme of ASIC's Annual Forum [1] that just took place in March 2016. We too can be vocal to help enable a cultural shift so that we focus on effective change. For example, if we show dedication in finding a suitable legal search solution to enable accurate due diligence, this would help others to share this vision. 

Change is permanent. These three tips will help lawyers apply good judgement when grasping legal technology and drive firms to success.

Find out more about SAI Global's Dynamic Reports which will help to keep your firm ahead in technology and can reduce the time spent sourcing and analysing data for due diligence  by 49%. View this short video or find out more here.

[1] ALPMA/LexisNexis Summit Survey 2015, as completed by 147 firms across Australia and New Zealand
[2] Thomson Reuters White Paper on the State of the Australian Legal Market 2015
[3] Per footnote 1
[4] Lawyers Weekly 2 March 2016