Tips for Practitioners | Essential Technology in Law Firms
It is no secret that the legal industry is resistant to change, especially when it comes to technology. However, the positive impact of technology is quickly forcing change. Document management systems, case management software, automated client intake systems and electronic signature solutions are all becoming essential to the legal practice.
Why should law firms make these technologies a priority?
- Client expectations. Technology is an essential part of daily life. Your clients are accustomed to using it, they recognize the convenience it affords them and they are expecting this ease and convenience everywhere. Law is a client-oriented field where client expectations dictate the success or failure of law firms. It is necessary to conform to the client preference for technology, or you will run the risk of them taking their business elsewhere.
- Saving time. Technology survives the test of time because it maximizes efficiency, and legal technology is no different. By choosing the right technology, your firm minimizes the time spent on administrative tasks, thus providing you with more time to allocate to improving the client experience and expanding business.
- Maximizing profit. Profit goes hand in hand with saving time; after all, time is money. In an industry built on the billable hour, technology’s reduction of administrative billing often raises concerns. However, law firm revenue is sustained by providing the best client experience. The smart use of technology increases clients’ perceptions that their attorneys are working in the most time-conscious and cost-effective manner. Clients are then happier, which translates to repeat business. It is this repeat business, rather than minor gains in billing for administrative tasks, that enables law firms to grow and thrive.
- Error reduction. We are all susceptible to error, but using technology dramatically decreases the likelihood of making mistakes. By simplifying the way business is conducted, you can see a reduction in error on both the firm end and the client end. This, then, is potentially a two-fold error reduction, which translates to a significant decrease in non-billable time.
What factors should be considered when choosing solutions?
- Ease of use. The technology has to be easy to integrate into the preexisting workflow. Law firms often do not have an abundance of spare time to spend on learning new technology. By using tailored solutions that successfully pinpoint law firms’ pain points without requiring fundamental changes to the workflow, firms are able to integrate the solutions faster and more easily.
- Tangible security. Security is a central value to the practice of law. Thus, it is important to choose a solution that emphasizes security. By having multiple modes of authentication and an audit trail that displays the access data of your document, you are equipped with tools to verify your signers. Furthermore, by selecting a provider that houses your data in a secure location and encrypts your connection, you can be sure that both your firm’s data and your clients’ data are protected.
- Training and support. In the legal industry there is no baseline of technology knowledge — some attorneys are more tech savvy than others. Consequently, it is important to select a provider that will allocate resources to train those who are less tech-fluent. Too many tech providers subscribe to the “do it yourself” philosophy, but that does not work in a space where the users do not have endless free time.
Yuri Eliezer (J.D. ’12) is the founder of ClientSide Technologies (goclientside.com), a company that evolved from the technology he developed for his firm, Founders Legal. Eliezer utilizes his firsthand understanding of the legal industry in developing tailored technology that helps firms enhance legal integrity, maximize efficiency and exceed client expectations. Firms across the nation use his technology to modernize and automate the client administration process.