An Introduction to Digital Transformation in the Legal Sector

When it comes to digital transformation, it’s fair to say that the legal profession isn’t at the forefront of the movement. It’s understandable, though. The legal profession is steeped in tradition. It holds on tightly to its long-standing values. And the smallest of changes can cause a domino effect, the consequences of which can be profound.  

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This being the case, why are leading law firms pushing forward with digital transformation? 

1. Consumer pressure 
The legal sector is no exception when it comes to growing pressure from consumers. Whether in the business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) space, tech-savvy consumers are willing to shop around until they find a law firm that meets their expectations.  

2. Legacy systems 
Legacy systems often do more harm than good: Duplication of data is rife, interfaces are anything but user-friendly, and you can forget about accessing data on the go. 

3. Shadow IT 
The ineffectiveness of legacy systems has lead to wide-spread shadow IT in many sectors. Shadow IT is what happens when the business-side of an organization creates its own software solutions without IT’s permission. Without an IT-sanctioned environment, security risks skyrocket, as do miscellaneous costs. 

How are leading law firms driving innovation with digital? 

Digital transformation shouldn’t be something to fear. Leading law firms quite rightly see it as an opportunity. According to Forbes, investments in legal technology businesses reached $1bn in 2018, an increase of 713% compared with 2017. 

So, how are leading law firms using software to drive innovation? What do these digital solutions look like?

1. Personnel training 
Clifford Chance is one of the law firms leading the way, encouraging law professionals to gain new skills with its Tech Academy.

2. Innovation hours
Some firms have begun to include innovation hours as part of fee-earners’ roles. This means time spent on innovative new solutions counts towards billable hour targets. 

3. Automation 
Leading law firms are already automating various processes to save time and reduce costs. According to management consultancy Altman Weil’s survey, Law Firms in Transition 2019, 48% of firms surveyed are already using automation technology to replace their human resources departments. 

4. Analytics 
An increasing number of law firms are using data analytics to help them win cases, understand trends in their sector, reduce costs, and gain competitor insights. 

5. Cloud computing 
The improved security, collaboration, and accessibility offered by cloud-based solutions is giving tech-savvy law firms an invaluable advantage over their competitors. 

Where do law firms start with digital transformation? 

As we’ve seen, leading law firms have already started offering training in technology to their law professionals. Enabling legal professionals to become citizen developers is the only way for law firms to drive innovation, in a world where programmers are becoming increasingly scarce. 

That’s why we recommend thinking about citizen development strategies now. Don’t let the competition get there first. 

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