Covid has had a major impact on legal services. It has seen increased digitalisation across the profession and instilled the need for law firms to be more productive. In just two years there has been twenty years’ worth of modernisation. The most important step change for the next ten years will be understanding that a lawyer’s skill and knowledge alone is not enough to make a business work well.
Efficiency, communication, mobility, and flexibility are also key, as is the need to generate new business. Firms need technology to be deeply involved with all of this. As well as keeping staff up to date professionally and legally, technology has become central to delivering both service and target expectations and we must get used to how it defines and increases our productivity in a post-pandemic digital economy.
The individual productivity level of each staff member determines the growth rate of any business. Nowadays, lawyers should be surrounded by productivity tools that support them to do key elements of their job more effectively such as onboarding new business, updating customers, billing accurately and recording their time. To make this possible requires a flexible, integrated technology system that delivers a single source of truth, a central hub of information that not only provides a lawyer visibility of everything that’s going on with their case and in real-time but also, if required, can provide transparency to the rest of the practice ensuring continuity of customer service.
It is an ongoing cycle, to justify the need to be productive. Firms require clients and a constant supply of work but to achieve this it requires productivity in the first place, by delivering efficient and accurate service your client is likely to request additional work or recommend you to others.
In addition, your staff want to be productive. To attract and keep great staff (and great clients) you need your firm to be run in a profitable and productive way with the best tools allowing them to do their job, legal businesses must master simultaneous, real-time document management and assembly, accounting, legal publishing, and practice management in one. Taking responsibility for the implementation of a fully integrated legal practice productivity solution will significantly improve employee satisfaction within your firm, streamline processes and be a catalyst for developing new business.
So, with technology being the simple driver to improving productivity, what strategies can law firms adopt to make their practice more effective?
1. Fully embedding a single system to run the firm
By implementing a legal practice productivity solution your client and matter information is centrally and securely stored in the cloud. This means that across your firm staff are working from the same system and with access to the same data, which synchronises in real-time across all devices. Everyone retains access to document automation, time recording, digital signatures, legal publishing, and secure document sharing, and at no time do they have to leave their system to do this.
2. Internally commit to digital literacy
Managing Partners need to recognise the levels of digital literacy required amongst their staff to optimise the benefits of technology. It’s essential to implement intuitive, user-friendly technology and source providers that will train your staff at the outset and provide access to a wealth of after-sales support and online resources to build knowledge and enhance user expertise.
3. Implement a system that’s a partner for the long-term
The system you invest in needs to stretch and flex with your business, changing and developing to meet firm requirements and the demands of the times. Key to this is a commitment to development and having a fully integrated system, connecting, and providing access to other best-in-class technology solutions as needed. By having a central system that ‘talks’ to other specialist systems, you access the best software for the job in hand. For example, having a system that integrates with a legal publisher gives round the clock access to standardised, reliable content.
Integrating platforms is what is helping legal services be more dynamic, efficient, and user-friendly and is key to a law firm’s digital transformation. By accessing one centrally located, cloud-based system that speaks to other systems you can easily and accurately oversee, track, and manage all your business activities.
Of course, change is required for any form of digitalisation and can often mean a change in a firm’s culture, from hierarchical and risk-averse to risk-acceptance and experimental.
Gareth Walker, Chief Executive Officer of LEAP UK, comments ‘At this present time, with the digital economy and the post-pandemic trading environment the way it is, productivity in legal services will only improve in a meaningful way when a firm takes steps to fully integrate their systems, covering every aspect of digital practice, from finances to form creation. Combining the implementation of such technology whilst increasing the digital literacy of your people can build a true, productive, and profitable law business for now and in the future.’
LEAP, the largest independent provider of software to law firms worldwide, has repositioned its software offering to reflect the comprehensive and commercial nature of its integrated components and supports law firms in maximising productivity. Integrated components provided by LEAP include document management & assembly, accounting, legal publishing, and practice management.