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[Excerpts from ThomsonReuters White Paper: https://tmsnrt.rs/31n5ADM]
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread globally, nobody would have envisaged the gross impact it would have on the legal market and the daily lives of legal professionals.
Just a few months ago, it would have been inconceivable that law firms would be forced to support an entirely remote workforce. However, in today’s environment, that’s exactly what’s happening.
In today’s world, firms need to be planning for a new future filled with a host of challenges such as:
- Working virtually and keeping talents performing
- Building expertise in emerging and unfamiliar practice areas
- Meeting client demands for virtual communication
- Doing more work with leaner staff strength
The current conditions facing us can be addressed by a smart and focused legal tech strategy. How will the industry’s pioneering firms use tech during these unprecedented times? Let’s take a look at 3 techniques.
MAXIMIZING ATTORNEY PERFORMANCE
According to the Thomson Reuters 2019 Law Firm Business Leaders Survey, “Under-performing lawyers” ranked as the number-three risk to firm profitability. This analysis was from 75 executives representing firms ranging in size from 50 to 225 attorneys.
Sarit Shmulevitz, Director, Practical Law Bankruptcy at Thomson Reuters, is an attorney who practiced for 15 years in both corporate and law firm roles. As she explains, “When I was practicing, the biggest thing I saw young attorneys struggle with was lack of guidance and training. There is so much that goes into practicing law — it’s impossible to come into practice and be prepared for everything.”
Investing in the right legal technology can immediately and effectively address many of the issues that keep lawyers from performing at the top of their games. This is also difficult in this new environment where many of your employees are likely working remotely. The opportunities for a new associate to catch a colleague in the hall to get guidance on a problem are no longer available. The need for technology is doubled to give associates the tools they need to make an immediate impact – whether they’re in the office or at home.
ATTRACTING A PLAYERS
For firms looking to attract a top lateral candidate or wanting to fill their ranks with the best young associates, technology can frequently be a strong consideration for attorneys thinking about a move to a new position.
It makes perfect sense, if you think about it. For attorneys who have spent their careers working with mediocre technology, joining a firm committed to staying on the cutting edge can be extremely attractive. On the other hand, attorneys accustomed to accessing the most current technology will not want to take a step backward in terms of the tools available to do their jobs.
Savvy firm leaders use technology to make themselves as attractive as possible to prospective new hires. According to the 2020 Report on the State of the Midsize Legal Market from Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, this may be especially true for midsize law firms, where the bulk of staffing growth happens in the associate ranks.
With this renewed focus on hiring A Players, it is critical that firms do everything possible to win the recruiting battle — and tech investment will be at the top of the list for many firms. Those that don’t prioritize it may find themselves in a much more difficult position when trying to bring on top talent.
USING TECH TO STAND OUT
When law firms make the commitment to invest in legal technology, they typically base the purchasing decision on the tangible benefits such as: speed, efficiency, knowledge, client service, and others. What many firms fail to understand is that the fact that they even have the technology makes them look next to a firm that doesn’t.
Firms that position themselves as innovators can justifiably take it one step further to tell current and prospective clients that their commitment to technology sets them apart from other firms. When they pitch themselves as being faster, more accurate, better informed, and more prepared, they can go all in and add the fact that technology helps them do all of those things. They will clearly communicate that their firms have made the conscious decision to use every available tool in service of their clients’ success and well-being.
Law firms ready to answer this call can position themselves as the go-to partner in this uncertain market. Using legal technology to streamline routine tasks, collaborate with clients, and help navigate the challenges of the market. Now is the time to evaluate your firm’s technology strategy and reconfigure it for the future.