With so many legal tech product options, the question for law firms is no longer, “Do I invest in legal technology?” Instead, attorneys are asking themselves, “How do I narrow my options to ensure we choose the right technology for our business?”
Most aspects of legal administration can be automated, from billing and hour-tracking to discovery and contract design. Savvy attorneys no longer see technology as a series of individual purchases; they know that successful law firms will incorporate technology in their long-term strategies.
Here are five ways to evaluate new legal products and their fit for your business.
1. How does this Software help us Serve our Clients?
Technology providers claim their products save you time (and therefore money) and those savings are passed to your clients through less expensive services and more individual attention. This is a one-size-fits-all approach. When investigating a new software, visualize all the ways your clients will benefit. How much time will it take before your clients will notice your increased speed or better service? Will this technology increase the number of services you can provide? Will this technology help you meet the demands of clients? The next time you consider a provider’s software solution, make sure the technology fits into your firm’s strategy and that it helps to create a better client experience.
2. Does the Technology Empower our Clients?
It doesn’t matter how great your product is if you don’t focus on what the consumer wants. An attorney’s services may be stellar, but the cost and method of delivery combine to shape how a consumer feels about their purchase. Today, Apple is considered one of the most innovative companies. While designing the iPod, Apple gave consumers power by allowing them to buy individual songs and receive them instantaneously. Apple believed that consumers would value the ability to purchase songs on an individual basis and the iPod is the end result from the application of that belief. Like Apple in the music industry, how can technology help attorneys give power back to their potential clients? Details about laws, forms, and fees are free. The value firms provide is their advice and the value given to the client for applying that advice. The value of technologies like the Oh Crap App and Shake is accessible information. However, because they are not attorneys the app designers cannot give advice, they can only provide information.
Successful firms are finding solutions to clients’ demands by leveraging their valuable advice in conjunction with innovative technology partners.
3. Who are Champions of Technology?
Some attorneys and paralegals leap at the chance to use better software. They are your champions, and they are critical to making technology work within your firm. Empower these champs by including them in a technology task force. While this group will help evaluate technology before purchase, the real value comes during implementation. And, just like there are champions, there will be plenty of resistance. Having a group of peers teaching and encouraging late adopters will make sure your technology investment isn’t wasted and that everyone ends up on the same page. Whether you’re the champion or the partner looking to push your firm in a more digital direction, it could be beneficial to implement a firm-wide commitment to technological investment. With so many improvements at the fingertips of other attorneys, your firm can’t afford to ignore innovative technology partners. The most successful firms in the long run will be those that continually become faster, leaner, and more integrated with the technologies on which their clients depend.
4. Does this Technology Power our Brand?
When it comes to the long-term success of your practice, brand recognition is key. Currently, there are few legal tools that promote your brand in addition to providing you a digital platform. Consider how technology helps you compete. Does it help you provide your services, or are you outsourcing the work entirely? While each tactic has its merits, retaining the credit in the mind of your clients will protect you as more transactional legal services become available.
5. Is this Technology designed for Law Firms?
For many practice management tools, the answer seems an obvious yes. However, some providers market in a variety of industries. While this does not discount a solution, you should make sure the features have been optimized for you, your team, and your specific tasks as attorneys and paralegals. The more experienced a team is with helping attorneys specifically, the more they can tailor the platform training and onboarding experience for a law firm. Technology solutions will continue to improve for law firms and for consumers. Is your firm leveraging technology and leading the innovation of how legal services are delivered or is your firm resisting change? Steve Sowers