On September 23, we at Loio hosted a webinar dedicated to the successful legaltech adoption in small law firms. We were honored to have Sharan Kaur, ex-Thomson Reuters, currently a legaltech and innovation consultant, as an expert speaker at the webinar.
During the 36-minute session, we covered all the aspects of legaltech adoption in small law firms — from what kind of tech is more suitable for a small practice to what questions should be asked during a demo with a legaltech provider.
The webinar was a treasure trove of useful knowledge for small law firm leaders! Check out these takeaways posted by one of the webinar’s attendees, Bellina Barrow.
But don’t get upset if you didn’t make it to the webinar! We have packed all the key findings from the event into this article for you.
- What is your take on the legaltech benefits and why is technology critical for a small law firm?
Technology is key regardless of the size of a law firm. But it is even more important for smaller law firms because they are facing additional pressures such as intense competition and the constant need to improve productivity. And adopting legaltech is a way to cope with both challenges.
In the first case, you’re not going to fall behind your innovative competitors and will even outrun those that haven’t utilized technology yet. And you are going to achieve the second goal because technology will let you shorten the time you are spending on your tasks, thus, increasing your bandwidth to serve more clients.
Legaltech is about bigger cost savings. If a small law firm wants to remain on the stage for a long time, legaltech adoption needs to be on the top of the priority list.
- When is the best time to start adopting technology? What business processes should be optimized first?
If you’re waiting for the right time to arrive, you probably won’t. The answer to the first question is that there is no right time. There is just a time when you make a decision. However, even though there is no such thing as a good time to adopt technology, there are some bad times to do it that should be avoided. For example, you should not plan legaltech adoption when your team is away on holiday or busy doing a completion exercise. So, it is not the best idea to adopt technology when your team is focused on other tasks.
Here is what our wonderful speaker Sharan Kaur said on that matter:
“You should pick the time when it’s as quiet as possible and when your team is going to be around to get hands-on with the tool and share their learnings.”
As for which processes to optimize first, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It depends on your law firm’s area of expertise, the type of clients that you serve, etc. So to find your answer to this question, you need to take a step back, look at your business operations, and see what the bottlenecks are. Most importantly, pay attention to what makes your employees unhappy — where they are doing work they wish they didn’t have to do. It is also advisable to start with internal processes before switching to optimizing client-facing processes.
- What technology stack is essential for a small law firm?
As for the essential technology stack, it is wise to start with legal research tools. Other levers are no-code technology platforms that let you build better workflow processes and automate them. Another thing that you might want to optimize in the first place is document review and contract drafting. Reportedly, these are the tasks that take the most of lawyers’ time, and, thus, are the number-one priority to get optimized.
- Is it better to use a platform or a standalone solution for a small law firm?
You should avoid situations when you automate one part of the process and then manually upload it into another one. Wherever possible, you should go for solutions that can integrate with others. A standalone solution is a good way to start with, but you should always ensure that it is capable of integrating with other tools even at a later stage.
- Should the tech implementation design include everyone in a team and who should be the stakeholders?
First of all, you should not involve too many people in this activity, because otherwise, you may encounter a danger of not being able to agree on a final decision.
The most important thing is to include people who are going to work with the new process and people who are going to be influenced by the new technology. They should be the key stakeholders and have a say in the implementation design. Once you’ve got that core group in place, then it’s a good time to go out and ask the rest of the team for feedback.
- What should stakeholders pay attention to when choosing a tool or provider?
As Sharan noted, “business is 80% chemistry and 20% your product.” So the first thing you need to do is make sure that you like the people behind the tool.
On the business side, the vendor has to know your market well. They need to understand how lawyers work in the context of your practice area and know the challenges that law firms of your size experience. If they don’t understand your pain points, they won’t be able to solve them. And to ensure that they have this understanding, you need to ask lots and lots of questions during the demo. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a stupid question. So ask questions and make sure that the vendor can provide clear and concise answers to each.
Another piece of advice would be to ask the vendor to let you speak with their clients. This will give you a sense of security because you will know that another firm has done something similar and experienced success.
- How many demos should a law firm have with different providers before they choose the solution they want to go with?
It’s not a matter of the quantity of the demos — you just have to be convinced that the tool fits your firm’s needs completely. You need to have enough demos to know the product, the offering, and the challenges you may encounter. So, you should not have so many demos that you end up procrastinating and not making a decision, but enough to feel ready for the next step.
- How can a law firm’s owner persuade their team to start using a new solution?
Even though lawyers tend to be risk-averse, the COVID-19 has shown us that when lawyers need to change, they change very quickly.
In general, there are two types of people you need to persuade: the senior management and everybody else who is going to be using the tool. The senior leadership team needs to be persuaded with metrics and tangible data such as “if you shave off one unit of time, it’s going to save you a hundred thousand pounds”. And to incentivize the rest of the employees, you need to sell them the personal benefits they will get from the technology. For example, if they know that this tool will let them produce work faster and go home quicker, it won’t be so hard for them to start using it.
The second category is the one that needs persuasion the most. You should persuade them with things that drive and motivate them, bearing in mind that no two people can be motivated by the same thing. So, you need to talk to people on that level and show them why the new ways of working are beneficial to them.
- How can the leadership team measure the success of legaltech adoption?
The most important thing here is how you define success. It can be enhanced productivity, quicker turnaround time, or something else. You need to have a benchmark to start with. That means that you need to know what your current position is, and in some cases, you should even have clear metrics to rely on. For example, if you’re optimizing contract review, you need to know how long it takes your lawyers when done manually so that you could see the difference between “before” and “after” when analyzing the effectiveness of using legaltech. So, tie success to the type of products that you’re using.
Sometimes success can also be defined by the level of the employees’ happiness. For example, if they don’t have to spend time on administrative tasks anymore, can complete their core tasks faster, and go home to their families earlier, it means that they are happier, and it is a good indicator of the legaltech adoption success.
All in all, to measure the success of the tech implementation, set a benchmark, understand where you’re going, and define your final destination.
That’s it! If you want to grasp Sharan’s expertise in full, check out the recording:
We also invite you to read Sharan’s recent interview with Loio where she has shared many more tips on successful legaltech adoption.
See you at Loio’s next webinar on September 30! At this event, you will learn how to have a rewarding career as an in-house counsel.
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