Implementing technology in your law firm can reduce your costs, streamline the administrative processes that are common to every case, and standardise the basic legal functions carried out by junior staff, allowing senior legal professionals greater autonomy to carry out the work that is of importance in the matter in question.
The financial industry adapted quickly to the digital era, with the majority of customers adopting online banking and banking apps within a short space of time and fintech adoption rates now at 86% amongst customers. Contrast this with law firms that have thus far been relatively slow to adopt the plethora of new technologies that can improve the client experience. The SRA cites insufficient internal technology skills, regulatory uncertainty and limited investment capital as barriers to adoption. Other key reasons for this slow adoption are given as insufficient time for staff training, followed by fee earner burnout.
Implementing new technologies that can simplify the process and give fee earners more time to focus on case elements requiring practitioner input, could address the latter point, but there is a key requirement, that firms find the time to train their staff appropriately. Most technologies are now fairly intuitive to use, and key personnel who routinely use technology in their day-to-day lives will almost certainly find the new systems simple to use, which could accelerate their rollout.
Benefits of Digital Adoption
Digital transformation in the legal sector will not only reduce staff burnout, but it can improve data security, reduce time spent on repetitive administrative tasks and improve version control of case files. Technology can help support staff and junior lawyers to locate previous cases and cross reference against precedents, in addition to ensuring that relevant legislation is considered in each individual case.
Taking a long-term strategic view as to how you wish your firm to operate is essential in choosing the right technology. Selecting future-proof technology with minimal training burden will potentially incur greater costs at the outset but could save significant time and money downstream, making the investment worthwhile.
The Client Experience
The greatest benefit of digital transformation is almost invariably the improved client experience. Businesses and individuals alike are already using technology every day in most areas of their lives, from managing their personal administration through to conducting business banking transactions. For a client, accessing a digital portal hosted by their law firm is a logical step.
In automating simple processes such as client sign up and identification verification, clients can enter their own information and have it routed to the most appropriate lawyer, project group or practice area for action. At this point, all information necessary for the lawyer to begin work has already been provided, reducing the timescales to completion.
Building defined routing and touch points into the system will ensure that work can be directed to the correct resources for action first time and live updates can be shared at any given point. This includes the system automatically billing the client under the agreed terms. The lawyer who had been handling the matter can move on to their next case, safe in the knowledge that any payments due will be automatically processed and the client's file updated accordingly. Support staff will be notified to follow up on payments, reducing collection times.
A truly effective digital system allows clients to contact the most appropriate legal representative and ensures that their case is processed in an efficient way with appropriate communication throughout. This builds trust, loyalty and enhances their perception of the firm, potentially resulting in referrals.
Implementing an easy-to-use digital platform for case management is attractive to clients, improving time-to-bill metrics, revenue and marginality. By standardising common processes, legal practitioners can focus on fee earning work and all departments and practice areas can work at optimum efficiency.
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