As COVID-19 took the world by surprise, everyone was forced to adapt to what is now the New Normal. Businesses, institutions or law firms alike were not spared by the sudden change as the use of technology in the legal profession became a basic necessity to thrive. Thus, it was inevitable that the demand for law firm practice management software & accounting systems was doubled when we were forced to adapt to the new way of making a living: the Work-From-Home arrangement which has now become the new norm in the law firms.
Thus, in this article, we will discuss and learn 5 steps that can help law firms to ease the transition period by identifying what IT needs and useful technology they can implement within their firms to stay on top of their game in the midst of this crisis.
Legal Tech Adoption by Lawyers Amidst of COVID-19 Crisis
Understanding the needs
The differences each law firm possesses are not limited to its structure and foundation, it stretches down to the coping mechanism it has in times of crisis. As mentioned above, it is also true that every law firm has its own needs and requirements when it comes to technology adoption but at the end of the day, it has the same purpose; the capability to aid in either one of the two long term goals below which are:
● First, Improve Sales and Marketing processes [Increase revenue and save time], and
● Second, Streamlining Operations [Reduce cost of operations with more efficient or automated workflow]
Here are some steps you can consider to achieve improvement and sustainability in your law firm despite the ongoing global crisis.
Step 1: Decide what your firm needs
To effectively develop solutions for problems, it is important to be aware of the problem itself first. Thus, it is vital for the law firm to identify tedious processes based on functions or department within the firm as laid down below;
● Sales & Marketing
● Clients Management
● Administrative & Accounting
● Billing & Invoicing
● Legal Documenting Merging & Templates and
● Document Management
Furthermore, a brainstorming session within the firm is highly recommended to get different views and perspectives from its members and employees. The brainstorming session will give you consolidated ideas from all points of view without being subjective.
Step 2: Involve team members in the implementation process & to increase awareness of the IT adoption.
One of the most common mistakes committed by firms and organizations when it comes to technology implementation is the lack of communication within its structure.
This is true when the decision regarding the technology implementation was made through a top-down approach (rather than based on the team’s discussion). Eventually, this will lead to bigger problems that will hinder the implementation process due to inevitable objections from the firm’s members because of the unsolicited changes made in their work process.
It is important that as the leader, he can successfully relay the message that although a change of work process may feel painful and even cause discomfort at first, it will eventually help the members of the firm to become efficient, save more time, increase productivity and all in all be beneficial in the long run.
Step 3: Arranging priority of the technology implementation
In relation to the 80/20 Rule, the next step to successfully adapt to the New Normal is to arrange the IT implementation ideas in accordance to the impact they will create. First, it is important to start by executing the top 20% of IT ideas that will bring maximum impact to the firm in terms of increased revenue, improved efficiency, and reduced cost.
To further elaborate, based on our experience in dealing with our clients, we observed that the usual scenario when a firm begins its technology adoption is the involvement of administrative or repetitive work in accounting or client management.
On the other hand, firms which already implemented IT within its firm mostly need help in terms of managing and accessing documents on cloud and merging legal document templates easily with better user management for audit trail purposes.
Step 4: Vendor sourcing
After identifying the top 20% of the IT implementation ideas, it is now time for the firm to source the right vendor. I’ve prepared a set of questions for you to use as a guide in order to make the right choice. The questions are listed below:
● Is there a ready-made product available in the market?
● Do you prefer a simple system where the features & functions are determined by the vendor or do you prefer more flexibility in the software so that you can customize it based on your preference in the future?
● How accessible is the tech supported by your vendor? (This is especially important for those who do not have an internal IT team)
● Is the vendor using the latest technology and constantly updating their software?
● What’s the training coverage by your vendor?
● Do they have a dedicated team in training your team members on how to use the new system?
If the vendor of your choice ends up on the positive side of the questions then there is no doubt that the same is the one you are looking for.
Step 5: Implementation Phase
After going through the steps one by one and selecting the vendor, the firm is ready to start working with the right vendor now. With this, it should be noted that the involvement of the firm’s members remains vital. Feedbacks from the team members regarding the software should be encouraged.
Most of the time, the executor can provide great feedback if they are given a positive and judgment-free environment to share about their experience in using the new technology.
At the same time, allowing a transition period for your team members can help them adapt to the newly introduced technology, software, and processes much more easily. Since it is expected that changes in your current workflow may frustrate the team members at the beginning of the learning stage, the said transition period will most likely lessen pressure and stress during the adaptation period in order for the members to continue working efficiently.
As COVID-19 continues to change the way law firms operate, it is important that they have a system to counter the difficulties which the pandemic entails.
One of the greatest things about implementing technology within your firm is having the capability to collect, store, analyze and retrieve data easily and efficiently. On a side note, for firms that are taking their first step in implementing technology, one last piece of advice we have is to possess a long-term focused mindset. It is important to know that the changes and technology adoption is inevitable but after the initial struggles, it will eventually help you to save more time to produce the same amount of work more efficiently and effectively in the long run.