Rising tide: why one law firm's adoption of tech benefits the entire legal industry
Today’s digitally savvy consumer demands transparency and open communication from service providers – including their solicitors.
At the same time, there is an ever-increasing emphasis on efficiency. If people think they are not getting their money's worth, they will vote with their feet and seek another law firm.
How then does the modern solicitor adapt and remain competitive?
Firms are increasingly turning to technology that enables solicitors to work faster while maintaining accuracy and compliance.
Legal tech empowers solicitors to communicate more efficiently with clients and colleagues, improving collaboration, speed and efficiency.
An expert solicitor’s thoughts on leveraging tech
According to James Legal CEO and senior solicitor, Nick Miller, this yields tangible benefits not only for the tech-enabled firm but for the legal services industry as a whole.
We sat down with Nick to talk about tech’s impact on the legal sector, how his firm has leveraged software like Insight Legal – a Dye & Durham solution – and how varying levels of tech adoption across the industry impacts the profession’s reputation and its ability to serve clients.
How have you used tech in your practice?
"Communication is the lifeblood of any business. At James Legal, we promise clients transparency and clear communication, and we keep that promise by utilising software solutions.
"Internally, we communicate with each other more effectively and efficiently by using technology.
"Additionally, it allows us to streamline and standardise our processes, leading to greater efficiency and growth."
How has tech impacted your relationship with your clients?
"Transparency, integrity, and honesty. SRA regulations require solicitors to be transparent, especially with pricing. I like to extend this transparency to all other aspects of our practice.
"Doing this puts our clients at the centre and builds trust. Our philosophy is, 'find out what the clients want, how they want it, and give it to them'.
"Being open in our communication and transparent in our dealings has strengthened our relationships with our clients."
Have you experienced any challenges with adopting technology to manage your practice?
"Not so much on the client side. Most clients are used to interacting online, through e-commerce, for example.
"The challenges I have seen are on the firm side, and they come down to people being resistant to change.
"It's a challenge within the legal industry, but it is not exclusive to us; humans are generally hesitant to change. So, a critical factor for successful tech adoption is effectively managing that fear.
"The 'stick' approach is one way, but the wiser thing to do is demonstrate the benefits of tech, like how much time it can save, meaning staff can leave work earlier from time to time, and spend more of it on family and other pursuits."
Have you noticed a generational difference when it comes to tech adoption?
"While it is true that young people are more inclined to adopt new technology, I cannot say that this is always the case in the legal industry.
"I have seen instances where older solicitors have been driving tech adoption in their firms.
"Generally speaking, however, newcomers to the industry tend to be more willing to learn and adapt than those who have been in the industry for a long time.
"When you have been doing things a certain way for an extended period, it’s easy to become set in your ways. So, hiring for attitude rather than experience can help firms unlock a lot of efficiency."
Is there a noticeable difference when collaborating with a firm that embraces tech and one that does not?
"Yes, communication is more efficient when collaborating with other tech-enabled firms.
"For instance, cloud-based shared folders enable seamless document sharing instead of physically transporting files. This speeds up matters and leads to happier clients.
"Although the volume of work may be the same when collaborating with a firm with less agile systems, the process often ends up being slower.
"As a firm, we may find it frustrating, but it is the client who suffers the most when their matter is delayed. It can be a difficult conversation to explain that another firm’s lack of technology is slowing things down."
Any advice for lawyers and legal professionals thinking about tech adoption?
"Choose the right IT solution providers for your practice.
"We have been in operation for 35 years and have had both positive and negative experiences with tech partners. You want a partner who is responsive to your needs and welcomes feedback.
"Additionally, there is no one-size-fits-all tech solution, so implement the ones that work for your practice. Involve your team and manage the change process intentionally.
"If you already use technology in your practice, continually evaluate your solutions, and ensure that you utilise them to their fullest potential.
"Collaborate with your IT solution providers and provide feedback to ensure they develop fit-for-purpose solutions for the legal industry.
"Also, check in with your clients to confirm that the tech solutions are working for them and explore ways to improve their experience using technology."
What does this mean for solicitors?
Simply put, one of the key benefits of legal technology is that it enables law firms to deliver a better client experience through improved communication and transparency.
Widespread tech adoption by the legal industry raises the standard of client care across the board, and that’s a win-win.