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Legal newsNovember 26, 2019

How to Go Through the Adoption of Legal Technology and Succeed

Adopting innovative solutions is a tough and resource-intensive task. Tech advancements that seemed rational at first sight may cause difficulties or even protests as they're implemented in legal departments or law firms. But finding the right approach to the adoption curve will ensure better results while keeping the solution intuitive and user-friendly. Let’s see how you can achieve digital transformation in legal departments without breaking the team.

It’s Never Easy to Keep up With the Pace of Innovation

The adoption of technology in legal, and, quite frankly, all other departments, is a continuous process. That is why it’s hard to be absolutely certain that the extent to which a company embraces digital transformation is enough. Neither can business owners rest assured that their efforts are a complete success. Forester highlighted these statements in one of their surveys. It claims that 21% of firms think their transformation is completed, while 56% of firms are still in the process of change. As many as 22% haven’t even started transforming yet. As we see, digital transformation in the legal field has a long way to go.

There are hurdles that slow down the pace of innovation. These are technological complexity, high cost, lack of knowledge about where to start the digitalization path, or even potential ethical implications - to name just a few. The following list is what our Australian colleagues named the biggest challenges for legal innovators in The Legal Innovation Report 2019. Have a look at these statements - they are quite universal.

  • 48% consider getting enough time and resources away from “business as usual” critical
  • 27% consider upskilling teams and improving processes critical
  • 12% consider preparing for the future of legal technology critical
  • 6% consider getting buy-in from the business-critical
  • 6% consider using data effectively for decision-making critical.
  • The biggest problem for implementing innovation is getting enough resources away from “business as usual”

    Three Must-Have Stages for Smooth Adoption of Technology in Legal Departments

    Businesses can generate an enormous value when they contribute to the culture of innovation on all levels of their organization. On the highest level, it can be opening the position of innovation manager or head of innovations. On the employee level, the rewards for being proactive and ready to embrace advanced tech work well. At the same time, innovation promoters should be realistic in their expectations for the adoption, being aware of the diversity of employees and their abilities.

    Choosing the right technology provider is the next crucial step. It will help manage legal practice more rationally and deliver better service to the clients. If a new tech talent from outside the legal sector fits well into the organization's culture and processes, it can become a source of competitive advantage and a catalyst for productivity.

    Consider the following elements as essential to the successful adoption of legal tech.

    Three elements for successful adoption are: Onboarding, Support and Integrations

    Onboarding

    Onboarding is a top-priority step in any innovation process. To make sure that onboarding will bring more benefits than challenges, the efforts of a company and its tech provider should be perfectly aligned. Responsible tech service providers try to involve their clients as little as possible. What a service provider does require are dedicated employees on the client side. When the client has a large workforce, there’s just no sense in rolling out tech innovation to all users at once. One or two onboarding specialists will be enough to establish and support communication between the internal team and the provider. They will also be responsible for managing internal matters like setting up the IT infrastructure required to successfully integrate the new technology.

    Sometimes, companies establish special positions and hire specialists responsible only for tech adoption. Head of innovation or chief innovation officer can assemble a center of excellence in a company to propel tech developments. The Lawyer Technology Report 2019 highlights that in the UK, almost half (52%) of the largest law firms do have a full-time head of innovation, while 48% don’t have such a tech-dedicated office. It’s a shame. Having an innovation curator and facilitator on-board can really make a difference. Moreover, they can act as a bridge between lawyers and tech initiatives the firm wants to adopt.

    Support

    When a tech company rolls out a new solution, users are never happy from day one. People resist change. Think of a ton of negative reviews the Internet is buzzing with whenever Apple reveals the next iPhone. Blame evolution, as the human brain needs some time to perceive novelty as a blessing, not a threat. That’s why reliable tech service providers should offer 24/7 support for their products and services. Even if the onboarding team is ready to communicate and clarify whatever is required, the provider should still be engaged. No one knows the product better and no one is as straightforward with a new technology as a company that created it. Plus it’s a perfect chance to collect feedback and improve user experience in new product versions.

    To align efforts between client and provider teams, in-house onboarding specialists can help establish communication channels that work best for their teams. Via email, chats or phone calls—company staff should know how they can approach a tech provider. They can also point out to the provider which group of employees might need more attention or additional training. The provider, in turn, should be more proactive while educating users. The more understandable the product is, the more chances there are to upsell new features or extra services. Onboarding video tutorials are extremely helpful. Not to overwhelm users with information, five minutes per feature is enough. If the location permits, on-site training sessions are much appreciated, too.

    Integration

    It’s more likely that the staff will embrace a new technology if it fits into the existing software stack of a legal firm or department. Well-established integration smooths down the adoption curve. Legal service providers will form their feedback depending on the way the existing internal systems will integrate with the external product offerings. It concerns not only the process of tech adoption but the uptake of the whole software product. When it comes to legal automation solutions, integrating data from internal databases and automatic uploading of documents into the company's approval systems will bring immediate wins.

    Even the most forward-looking firms have legacy systems. Integration of advanced tech into systems like that can become a stumbling block on the path toward favorable adoption. Using access management platforms, like Okta, might be a possible way out. Such platforms narrow at least the login gulf between legacy on-premises applications and new legal tech a company is adopting. Bearing in mind that the complexity of integration and configuration is one of the major hurdles, tech providers must be sure that their offering is custom enough and scalable.

    The Bottom Line

    The legal sector has a lot to gain from innovative technologies. The hardest thing is to find the right approach to adopt possibilities that legal tech brings to the table. A reliable technology provider in the legal field can become a strong asset to achieve synergy between advanced legal tech, extensive legal knowledge and expectations of end clients. Be demanding while choosing the one.

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