In a PWC survey conducted among the UK’s top 100 law firms, “use of technology” was listed as one of the top three business priorities. In the 2018 survey, firms were asked to identify the biggest challenge facing the field between then and 2020. Per PWC “all Top 10 firms identified technology, as did 40% of Top 11-25 firms.” The 2018 ABA Tech Report points out that firms are either maintaining or increasing their tech spending and reminds practitioners that “technology is and will remain an essential part of running a law firm.”
In our first post of the Legal Tech Adoption series, we looked at what could be holding firms back when it comes to implementing new tools. We also discussed why Legal Tech adoption should be a priority for your firm and presented a way in which to assess your needs. We began to see how you could start laying out the work ahead by using a Scope Of Work (SOW) document. Now, let us continue exploring critical concepts essential to ensuring smooth tech adoption at your firm.
5 Steps To Legal Tech Adoption
1. Piloting Change with the Right People
Testing solutions out in smaller groups is a normal part of any implementation. Who should you have pilot new tech? The best candidates are those who are most directly impacted by the update and those who have the least resistance towards the change. Ideally, individuals in the pilot group will also become the sponsors or champions of your firm’s novel tools. They will be engaged in course-correction, promotion of the tech, and eventually even function as teachers: they will help educate and explain the new system to others, and help coworkers and IT when troubleshooting is required.
2. Budgeting for Success
The aforementioned ABA report highlights the ease of budgeting for tech today, pointing out that most tools “are charging a per user per month price.” It emphasizes the importance of capturing the cost of software updates and maintenance and recommends that firms “break out the cost in line items for specific hardware and software/applications.” This will allow for better ROI measurement. And never forget to include training costs in your budget. Employees and even partners may need to be trained throughout the implementation process.
3. Watch For Legacy Systems Pitfall
Something that tends to greatly complicate the implementation of new tech are legacy systems. With that in mind, if you are starting out small or are on a modest budget, your best bet may be to go with solutions that can provide you with a competitive advantage but do not clash in any way with existing systems. This would be the case of research platforms which would function independently from your legacy systems. There would be an ease in adopting them which you will not encounter when you are, for example, implementing a web-based collaborative platform that may not support many of your existing tools.
4. Create an Adoption Plan: The Change Management Plan (CMP)
The CMP should be the product of a finalized SOW and comprehensive planning. Now that you know what your solution needs to look like it is time to: outline the work ahead, take into account the material and human resources required, and set a budget. When you prepare your plan. It is strongly advised that you consult with people who have already been through the process you are attempting. You may also have to check in with other parties: there may be compliance issues to address or, if several teams will be affected by the change. Remember that communication is key: sharing the CMP with stakeholders will be helpful towards maintaining clarity and a sense of direction.
5. Measure Outcomes
Identify someone or a team in charge of measuring and analyzing outcomes. This tracking should begin in the pilot phase. It is impossible to please everyone and people are naturally resistant to change. When complaints start coming in, you need to be able to back implementation up with data. This will help maintain support for the current changes you are implementing and will in the future serve as support to encourage new tech implementation processes. This data will not only help you argue in favor of adopting additional tech at some point, it will allow you to study the effectiveness of different approaches. You will be able to see at what moments there were improvements and when things became stagnant. Looking back at what was being done at those times will enable you to use it for future change management.
Consider Getting Outside Help
Navigating Legal Tech requires quite a balancing act: you do not want to implement certain technologies before they are proven to be cost-effective and efficient, but at the same time you do not want to be left behind or throw away money and time. And what is worse than risking your clients getting frustrated while your firm is trying to adapt to new systems? Even if you can narrow down the type of tools that you are looking for, the amount of solutions out there is intimidating.
De Novo Review can help you find and implement the best solutions for your business. We can sift through the overwhelming sea of software options that exist and weed out tools or providers that may not be worth your time and money. In a field like Legal Tech, which changes month to month, it is extremely helpful to be assisted by people who have experience and are up to speed.