The era of the digital revolution has put technology and its use at the forefront. Technology is now recognised as an enabler, necessary for growth and the way forward. The earliest use of LegalTech can be traced to eDiscovery which also was not the easiest to adopt in early days but has now become a routine. Today we have a number of good technologies making way in document review, contract management, abstraction and automation, data analytics in legal research and comprehending client engagements and invoices, electronic signatures, dissecting practices and introducing process workflows through a case management system, transcription services and no code platforms to create new digital service models that strengthen client relationships.
The adopters of technology have seen its impact on both the business and the practice of law. The benefits are measurable with considerable cost savings, increased efficiency, improved accuracy and faster turnaround being the most common. According to a research by The Law Society, Law firms estimated that using AI/ML tools resulted in a time saving of between 20% and 60% on the review. Firms have also seen increased accuracy and improved resource management with the use of artificial intelligence and process automation technologies. Some of the other known tangible and intangible benefits of using technology include consistency across all documents in terms of quality, reduced time spent on mundane and low-value work, freeing up lawyer time for actual advisory work and work life balance. According to an internal case study by Clifford Chance, the use of technology allowed them to save one hour per fee earner per week. 
Today the market has abundant choices of LegalTech for various practice and business components in law. The adoption of technology and the process around it is extremely critical. Considering the huge costs involved, it is important to identify the right technology. Just buying/subscribing to a technology does not automatically make it an enabler. The Why, What and How are the key to success.
There are a few common concerns that lawyers share around technology which are preventing its use and adoption. These include:
- ignorance – I don’t know and I don’t want to know
- hesitation to be the first one – why should I till it is compulsory?
- denial of technology as an enabler – this is of no use
- lack of culture of innovation and incentives for champions
- users feeling threatened by technology – will tech replace me?
- existing IT infrastructure and its limitations
- conflict with existing billing models
- technology is expensive which may not have been budgeted for
- finding the right technology amongst so many confusing options – AI, ML, RPA, chatbots, automation, open source, blockchain?
- client support and consent to use technology
The right technology is difficult to evaluate as most of the products have similar offerings with a few differentiators. The decision to subscribe to a technology is also usually influenced by our competitors and reviews on the internet. Our experience says that it is essential to go through the 3-stage process of Identification, Evaluation and Implementation to find the right fit and to ensure that the chosen technology is a consumed technology versus an insignificant purchased technology.
This step marks the beginning of the digitisation journey. It is important to assess the needs of your organisation at this stage. It is recommended to have a two-prong approach. The first step is to identify the area(s) which you intend to digitise and the exact pain-point you are trying to solve. At this point and going forward it is advised that you involve the future end users of the technology into the process. These are the people who will later become your champions. The ideal team should include the Management, the end users, a representative from IT and the Head of Innovation and all of them must be aligned.
The next step is to find the right technology. The following things must be kept in mind when identifying a technology.
- which technologies are available in the market for the identified problem?
- the background of the LegalTech company and its founders
- its current clients
- differentiator of one technology from another
- ease of implementation
The shortlisted technologies must then be evaluated by the selected team on their problem-solving abilities through demonstrations of the products and pilot projects. Feedback from the selected team must be assessed qualitatively to evaluate the product on the following parameters:
- problem solving abilities of the product – what value is the tech really adding?
- user friendliness and key features
- security and confidentiality standards and certifications
- integrations with the current IT infrastructure and existing technologies
- pricing – evaluate the ROI
- commitment for continuous product improvement
- willingness to listen to the voice of the customer
- reference check – speak to existing clients on what their experience has been
Implementation is the final stage of the digitisation journey. Many organisations after making appropriate technology investments have failed to achieve the anticipated results because of poor implementation. Following factors should be kept in mind for implementing the technology:
- plan a roll-out strategy
- partner with the technology provider for an effective roll out
- create awareness by running various internal campaigns by email, posters, wallpapers, demo and training sessions, organising walk -ins, webinars etc.
- promote, encourage and support the culture of innovation
- identify champions of the technology
- Continuously improve the product through training and feedback
- track the usage to ensure you are able to measure the success of the implementation
We have often been asked “Will technology make any difference?” The long and short of it really is that if you invest time and the right resources to identify the correct problem and in finding the right fit, the benefits are umpteen. You will experience increased efficiencies, improved accuracy, quality service delivery, client satisfaction, faster turnaround time, the ability to transition to newer billing models (fixed fee) and innovatively offer newer services with an improved work life balance. In a few words Wayne Dyer has explained “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”