Do you have legaltech gaps in your firm?

Addressing your "legaltech gaps” – issues that your IT provider or software supplier don't look after - can help you identify and improve aspects of client service and help your firm become more efficient. Jonathan Ashley, founder and director of etiCloud, picks out the four key areas to look at first.

IT and IT infrastructure can be pretty daunting to the uninitiated. All most of us want to know is that our laptops or PCs will work properly when we switch them on each day. So, it’s not unusual, when I mention “legaltech gaps” to potential clients, that they have no idea what I'm taking about. You may well be wondering what it means yourself.

Let me explain what these gaps are, and how they might be holding your firm back.

Your firm will most probably have one company that provides your IT infrastructure. That infrastructure is made up of physical components, including computers, network hardware (such as routers or servers) and services and facilities (such as a secure internet connection). You'll have another company that supplies your software. Software covers a variety of applications and platforms, including Microsoft 365 and your case/practice management system.

Almost inevitably, there are grey areas – or “legaltech gaps” – that don’t sit within the remit of either your IT provider or software supplier. When one points the finger at the other and neither knows the answer, that’s when you know you have a “gap”. Even if you only employ one firm for both your IT and software, you will still be able to identify gaps.

Your goal, therefore, is to get your IT infrastructure and software platforms to work in harmony with each other, with zero gaps.

Identifying legaltech gaps

When you start to scratch the surface, it soon becomes clear that a lot of infrastructure and software companies are one-dimensional; they just don’t have a desire to collaborate or partner. This is one of the main reasons why my firm made the decision to step into this grey area and focus on helping law firms to identify legaltech gaps, resolve them and use the consequent technology implemented to exceed client expectations.

Legaltech gaps can provide an opportunity for you to provide value-added services that will enhance your existing products and improve the overall efficiency and productivity of your firm. But first, you need to uncover them – here are several places to look.

Telephone system

Have a think about how efficient your telephone system really is:

  • Is it completely seamless end to end?
  • Do clients move swiftly through the system when they contact you, or do they have a bumpy ride to get where they need to go?
  • Do new or potential clients get the same experience as existing ones when they call or deal with your firm?
  • How easy is it for someone to reach the person they need to speak to, quickly and efficiently? Do calls get missed or drop off? And how does the telephone system work for you and your colleagues?
  • Can your clients get through to you easily, or do they sometimes end up in the wrong department?
  • Is it difficult to record and store calls?
  • Can you log your time against a call for billing purposes?

Secure communications

With the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) outlining in its 2018 report to the Law Society that one in two UK law firms have reported a security breach in the last two years, there are some important questions you must consider which, answered in the negative, could potentially damage the reputation and turnover of your firm:

  • How secure are your firm’s communications?
  • Do you fulfil all of the NCSC's ‘10 Steps to Cybersecurity’?
  • Do clients feel they are able to communicate securely with you wherever you or they may be?

Client onboarding

  • How much personal involvement is required in your client onboarding process?
  • How accurate and efficient is the process?
  • Once onboard, do all clients have access to a data-/deal-secure room?
  • Could your client onboarding be improved in any way?

Building trust

Gaining new business is difficult, so client retention is key to the long-term success of every firm.

  • How do you build trust with your clients?
  • Do you have sufficient tools to ensure that staff are efficient and accurate in their work, thus boosting client confidence at every stage?
  • If you asked your clients if they trusted your firm or if they would recommend it to friends or colleagues, would their answer be positive?

After thinking through each of these elements, have you noted anything that is lacking or that could be done better? If so, you have legaltech gaps.

By identifying your firm’s specific gaps and resolving them, you can spend more time practising law, rather than worrying about your systems. And that means you’ll be on track to increasing the efficiency of your firm and exceeding client expectations.

In an upcoming feature, I will outline the issues that can be caused by legaltech gaps and how they can be addressed and resolved to improve your firm’s strategic direction and future success.

Jonathan Ashley is founder and director of etiCloud, affiliate partner of the Law Society. etiCloud is already delivering flexibility through their Agile Digital Workplace for over 200 UK law firms in the SME market. 

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