Law firms that use legal technology are poised for growth, according to a recent study by Wolters Kluwer. But attorneys are still surprisingly reticent to use legal technology.
The most common reasons attorneys resist technology that we hear include:
- not knowing where to start,
- training needs,
- resistance to change,
- time requirements, and
- concern about cost.
Let’s unpack each of these and suggest some approaches to set your law firm up for future growth.
Not Knowing Where to Start
We often hear lawyers say they didn’t know where to start their search for the right legal tech. How do you even begin to approach this market, with so many point solutions, platforms, and more?
The best way to start is by looking at your own practice:
- What does your firm need from legal technology? Some firms want to automate as much as possible. Others want to have their practice information in one spot.
- What are your pain points? Many firms struggle with invoicing and payment collection. Others are trying to make case management more simple.
- Do you think your area of law could benefit from a client portal? Many firms, if not most, want to keep clients happier and more informed.
- Do you have existing software that you want to continue using and new software features you want to start using? Maybe your firm is using a point solution, like time tracking. But creating invoices is a manual, tedious, time-consuming process. So you want to continue with your existing time tracking, but add the ease and functionality of invoice creation. Knowing which combinations of features you particularly want will help you on your search.
These are just some of the questions to ask about your practice.
Not sure what other questions to ask? It’s helpful to review a Buyers Guide to Legal Technology. Thoughtful consideration before you start identifying potential providers is critical to successfully choosing your platform or solution.
Once you have your list of requirements, both must-haves and nice-to-haves, it’s time to start reviewing options. There are so many online resources you can use to review platforms and the functionality each provide. Check out Lawyerist, Capterra, and other online legal tech sites. Make sure to use the ‘features checklist’ option to narrow your list of possible legal tech solutions based on your firm's unique needs.
Once you have identified the top 5 or so, it’s easy to set up short, online, one-to-one demos. The provider will give you an overview of the system’s capabilities, fees, and how it differs from other providers in a 30-minute time frame. Demos are almost always free and can be conducted remotely, which makes them convenient for your schedule as a lawyer.
It’s always a good idea to check with your local Bar Association or Lawyerist, who both offer discounts on various legal tech providers through an Affinity Partner program or Membership Perk.
The good news here is that training is easy! Whichever legal tech provider you select will undoubtedly offer multiple options to get you quickly up and running. Remember to take advantage of all of them!
- Live training: Many legal tech providers, like SimpleLaw, offer one-on-one web-based training sessions for new users. Generally speaking, they are weekly sessions where you have the undivided attention of an expert to answer all your questions.
- Online training: Sometimes, when you are using the platform, you can forget what you were told. No problem. Many legal tech providers have full training videos and tools that you can access, anytime. Always a good idea to bookmark this page, especially at the beginning!
- Help feature: So much good information right at your fingertips! For 90% of your questions, you will find the answer there. We know sometimes it's easier to make a call, start a chat, or send an email, but it's always a good idea to start with the help feature.
- Make a call, start a chat or send an email!: Yup. Sometimes that's the best answer. With may tech providers, you can simply visit their website and start a chat. The person on the other side of the chat will either answer your question or get you to the right hands.
Resistance to Change
Legal technology has the power to reorder how you practice the law and how you manage your firm. Integrating legal technology into your practice can be a challenge. The key to success? Focus on the outcomes of what the legal tech will provide to your firm.
We’ve brainstormed some tips on how to manage change that involves the adoption of legal technology:
- Embrace change gradually. Focus on one feature at a time or perhaps start with only one matter on the new platform. Now, we don’t recommend you take months on end to adopt the full platform, but starting out slowly can help.
- Learn from others. Network with other attorneys or work with your selected legal tech provider to see how to get the most from your investment.
- Take advantage of webinars, online training opportunities, and the platform’s ‘Help’ button.
- Be patient. Adopting technology will require changes to how you complete typical tasks. It takes time to establish these new habits. This is why gradually embracing change can be so constructive.
These tips can help you actively engage and critically think about the changes that legal tech bring to your practice. It’s about making the most of your investment so you can achieve the goals you have for your firm.
The greatest asset of all is time. And we fully understand how very precious a resource that is. To maximize your time investment, start with identifying the 'best' way for you to make the transition.
Certainly the switch from the current approach, whether it's spreadsheets and a cloud-storage site, to a platform requires time. You have to change your actions. And breaking old habits and creating new ones does take a bit more time, at least until you are comfortable with the change. But remember that what you are doing now takes time, too. And if you have picked the right technology for your firm, you will see time savings.
We suggest moving to the new platform as new matters begin. Wrap up existing matters with your existing tools and processes. When a new matter is created, start on the new technology. It will be a bit awkward using both for a little while, but the break is clean.
However, if you prefer to move existing matters to the new platform, make sure you understand the time, and possible expense, to get that done. Some tech providers do not give you full control over documents stored on their platform. You may need to hire a tech professional to move your files. Make sure you consider that in the time requirements, too. And, make sure the platform you are moving to gives you full control over you documents, all the time, like SimpleLaw.
Remember, tech is built to save you time. Get information about your matters and practice at your fingertips, from any connected device. And while you may need to spend a bit more time to make the move, the payback will be great.
Concern about Cost
Deciding to invest in legal tech is often cost-based. Sometimes, the fees can seem quite high. Even so, there's a wide range of costs and benefits, and there's no doubt that there's a reasonable price point for every practice-- particularly when you consider the benefits of that investment.
Tech prices will vary depending on what your firm needs. Single-feature solutions can be quite inexpensive, but give very limited functionality. Some are as cheap as $10 a month. Naturally, prices increase as you consider full platform options. However, the features and capability increase far more rapidly than price. Multi-feature solutions (like case and practice management platforms) are still quite affordable; you don’t need many billable hours to make up the difference on your investment in them.
Pay special attention to your bar association’s member benefits. Often times, “member benefit” translates to “discounts on services.” If a member benefit is a match for you, it can provide you a good deal on tech that is expected to keep your firm competitive in the long run.
Adopting legal tech can feel a bit overwhelming. Status quo is certainly a lot easier. But easier isn't always better. In fact, we find it very rarely is. What other reservations hold you back from adopting legal tech? Let us know on Twitter @_SimpleLaw. And, make sure to check out the SimpleLaw platform.