Digital transformation trends in UK law firms

Across the legal profession, digital transformation is taking place in different ways in firms and legal departments alike. But, what does this mean in practice? Our strategic partner, Dye & Durham, outline what digitisation actually is and how artificial intelligence can play a vital role.
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© Jacob Wackerhausen
Digital transformation is a hot topic in every industry, but what does it really mean? At Dye & Durham, we have daily discussions with our customers about it. But when you look across the legal services sector, there isn't a universal understanding of how digital transformation impacts the industry.

At its core, digital transformation is the change from traditionally analogue systems to digital. It can be as simple as digitising your files to as complicated as introducing blockchain to record transactions.

In legal services, digital transformation is enabling law firms – particularly small and medium-sized law firms – to grow faster. Innovative technology solutions reduce the administrative time required of solicitors so they can focus more energy on winning clients and delivering value to them.

Going digital also elevates the client experience. Today’s consumers are used to digital processes. By introducing tools like online client portals where clients can track progress on their case, law firms create a more interactive experience, leaving their clients feeling more informed and more in control.

Law firms in the UK have largely embraced digital transformation, even if at a different pace from other industries. Initiatives like LawtechUK have shrunk the learning curve for firms and perhaps removed some of the fear of change that comes along with new technology.

The role of AI

As the UK’s legal services sector moves ahead with its digital transformation, it must approach AI with both its benefits and customer attitudes toward it in mind.

Polling conducted in October on behalf of Dye & Durham found that just 16% of UK consumers would be comfortable with estate agents using AI. Only 11% of respondents would be comfortable with lawyers and conveyancers using AI.

Similarly, AI adoption in the UK workforce is low. 78% of UK consumers have not yet tried AI for professional use according to a similar poll we did in December.

While tools like ChatGPT have captured the interest of the media and built a loyal global user base, the British public has been slower to adopt the technology compared to some other countries. In Canada, for example, 87% of respondents to a separate Dye & Durham poll had experimented with AI.

We all want a more efficient and effective legal system. As the UK’s legal sector explores the significant benefits AI can provide, legal professionals should meet their clients where they are, and focus on education.

Legal professionals can shift the narrative to how AI adoption in the legal sector will deliver better benefits to customers at low cost and low risk.

Clients who may be skeptical of AI may simply not be aware of how they are already using it in their daily lives. By providing context and facts around the deployment of AI, including how it is already being used to support legal professionals, and the benefits that are passed onto clients, we can move the industry forward together.

At Dye & Durham we’re proud of our role enabling our customers’ digital transformations – we exist to make their jobs easier and more efficient.

Undergoing digital transformation in a law firm can support solicitors in many ways – from speeding up laborious payment processes to streamlining the management of workflows; the adoption of digital technology can help law firms grow faster with less effort.

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