20/2/2017 by Katherine Memery
Traditionally known as being risk-averse, until recently, lawyers have been reluctant to embrace change. However, many firms are now realising that they must innovate in order to succeed in today’s ultra-competitive market.
Lawyers can no longer rely on conventional ways of working. Firms are beginning to explore how they can offer greater value to increasingly demanding clients, increase efficiency and improve accuracy. While innovation is commonly associated with the introduction of new technology, change is now also taking place in client service delivery and project management.
Meeting client expectations
Clients are more tech-savvy than ever before and buying habits have changed significantly. Across all sectors, consumers have come to expect better and faster communication and slick service delivery.
Clients often research legal services online before making a decision about whom they should instruct. It is essential that firms have a strong web presence and a user-friendly website providing information, guidance and positive client reviews.
Some law firms are also taking steps to update their communication channels and are reaching clients by offering a range of online options such as web portals or mobile apps. By adopting innovative technology, lawyers can reduce costs and increase outputs; this will enable them to offer exceptional value for money to existing clients and win new business.
Attracting the best talent
Technology can address the demand for flexible and remote working opportunities. Investing in technology to enable safe and secure remote working allows lawyers to work from any location. Agile working, proven to help and attract the best people, also helps firms to be more efficient and responsive to clients by providing a more continuous service.
Lawyers are also innovating the structure of their businesses and have recognised the value of bringing in personnel with varied skillsets. Firms are appointing more non-lawyers in management and marketing positions because of the different experience and abilities they can bring to the table.
The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI)
Technology is becoming a major solution in the quest for greater efficiency. Legal tech companies have shaken up the legal sector by exploring the extent to which the cognitive domain of lawyers can be automated.
AI can already carry out basic and process-driven legal tasks usually done by junior lawyers and paralegals. Riverview Law, for example, has teamed up with the Computer Science Department at the University of Liverpool to launch Kim, a virtual legal assistant designed to help in-house teams make quicker and better decisions.
Inevitably, there are lingering concerns and a fear that the rise of AI could lead to certain legal roles becoming obsolete. However, it is hoped that this technology will enable lawyers to focus on complex, higher-value tasks and ensure that the right people are carrying out the right work.
The introduction of artificial intelligence will alter legal service delivery by easing communication between lawyers and clients. There are some who remain sceptical about the ability of technology to work more effectively and deliver a better legal service than a must-trusted lawyer. Not everyone can fully appreciate the power of technology to analyse a legal situation or offer sound legal options. The familiarity of and the strategic insight stemming from the human-to-human relationship will still be favoured by many large corporations and discerning private clients.
Intuitive case management systems
While voice recognition and touch screen technology are now prevalent in our private lives, they have yet to arrive in the office. Computerised case management systems can sometimes be clunky, inefficient and slow to operate. An intuitive case management system would revolutionise the way lawyers work. By allowing solicitors to dictate an email, ask their computer bring up the case they want or all the documents they need to read, the software would streamline the process of case management and allow them more time to work on more complex tasks.
The perfect system is yet to be designed, it is, however, highly likely that intuitive case management software will become commonplace within the next few years.
More than ever before, lawyers have huge opportunities to drastically improve the way they work and the services they offer. To remain relevant, it’s essential that firms are creative and on the lookout for ways to revolutionise. After a slow start, lawyers are increasingly welcoming innovation, making their working lives more stimulating, exciting, imaginative …and, it has to be said, profitable. Those that fail to do so are at serious risk of being left behind.