This article is a repost. It was originally published and created by our partner The Law of Tech. You can find the original source here.
In the rapidly evolving legal innovation landscape, meaningful innovation does not merely revolve around the creation of cutting-edge applications; it is also about understanding the intricate needs of the legal professionals who use them. Today, LegalTech developers face a critical challenge: how to build technology that seamlessly integrates within the dynamics of the legal environment and empowers legal practitioners to navigate it efficiently?
The key lies in embracing the power of feedback – a fundamental tool often underestimated in both the legal and tech spheres. In continuation of our previous blog post on the role of low-code/no-code as tools to accelerate legal innovation, we now take a step back in the legal innovation process to better understand how we should approach these tools in legal business. Transitioning from legal problems toward technical solutions, in this blog post, we ask ourselves: what is the value of feedback in this process, and how can we best embrace it in LegalTech application development?
Breaking down the development cycle for low-code/no-code in legal
Feedback in the realm of LegalTech is multi-faceted, akin to a complex legal case that requires nuanced understanding. It isn’t just about identifying what features users prefer or dislike; it’s about grasping the underlying context. When it comes to the development cycle of low-code/no-code solutions in legal, this context involves the following key stages:
Problem Identification and idea generation:
The development process begins with identifying challenges within legal workflows that could benefit from automation or customization. In other words, problem identification forms the very condition for successful solution development. In practice, this requires legal professionals to work together with IT experts or citizen developers and end-users to gather detailed requirements for solution development. These interactions ultimately help in understanding the nuances of legal processes and the desired outcomes of the technology solution.
Once a problem has been identified and stakeholder interactions have led to a preliminary idea for a solution, the next crucial step is to choose the right low-code/no-code platform to start building. Broadly speaking, legal teams evaluate platforms based on factors such as ease of use, scalability, integration capabilities, and security features.
Application Design and Prototyping
Following platform selection, it is time for developers to design and prototype the envisioned application. During this stage, developers create a prototype of the application using the selected low-code/no-code platform and turn it into a so-called minimum viable product (MVP). This process of designing and prototyping allows legal professionals to visualize the desired solution and provide feedback on the user interface and its functionalities. This process and consequent improvements continue until the prototype meets the stakeholders’ expectations.
Development and Customization
Next, the application is built in practice. Using low-code/no-code tooling, developers are able to create the prototyped application with the help of a range of pre-built templates, components, and modules. This can be done without writing complex code, allowing developers to focus on configuring data models, designing user interfaces, and defining business logic.
Integration and Data Management
Once the solution has been developed and customized, it is integrated with existing systems and databases. To this end, developers use connectors and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to seamlessly integrate the new application with other tools and databases used in the legal practice. At the same time, data management tools ensure data consistency, accuracy, and compliance with legal regulations.
Testing and Quality Assurance
To ensure that the developed and integrated low-code/no-code solution functions as intended and is free from errors or vulnerabilities, testing is of crucial importance. Legal professionals, along with QA testers, perform various tests, including functional testing, usability testing, and security testing, after which the retrieved feedback is used to make the necessary refinements.
Deployment and User Training
Once the application passes testing, it is deployed to the production environment. User training sessions are conducted to familiarise legal professionals and staff with the new tool and to ensure that end-users can effectively navigate the application, input data, and utilize its features to streamline their workflows.
Maintenance and Continuous Improvement
Finally, once the solution is brought to the market, the development cycle is completed by obtaining user feedback and proceeding with continuous iterations. This is achieved through monitoring, maintenance, and user feedback analysis. In other words, legal IT teams need to address issues promptly, provide necessary updates, and continuously iterate the application based on evolving legal requirements and user feedback to ensure continuous improvement of the deployed solution.
Focusing on the latter stage of the low-code/no-code development cycle, continuous feedback becomes integral at this stage, shaping further iterations and updates. This iterative feedback loop ensures that the application remains relevant and effective as the legal landscape evolves, as we discuss in more depth next.
The importance of iteration for the legal innovation process
In the realm of legal innovation, the journey from concept to a fully functional, user-friendly LegalTech solution is guided by a fundamental principle: the continuous loop of feedback and iteration. In essence, the multi-dimensional nature of feedback and the agility of low-code/no-code development create a symbiotic relationship that plays an essential role in the process of solution improvement.
Within this process, legal professionals provide nuanced feedback, and developers respond with iterative enhancements, fostering a collaborative cycle that ultimately leads to the creation of powerful, user-centric LegalTech solutions. As this dynamic feedback loop persists, LegalTech solutions continue to evolve, offering innovative solutions that genuinely transform and benefit legal workflows.
The processes of iteration and feedback are crucial to achieve legal innovation for several reasons:
- Adaptability in a changing legal landscape: iterative processes allow for the swift adaptation of legal innovations. Feedback loops enable quick modifications, ensuring relevance and effectiveness amid evolving regulations, technologies, and client demands.
- Enhanced user experience: legal innovations, whether they involve client-facing applications or internal workflow tools, should prioritize user experience. Iterations allow for the gathering of feedback from end-users, which can ultimately be used to refine the solution, making it more intuitive and user-friendly. This focus on user experience not only boosts efficiency but also increases user satisfaction and adoption rates.
- Identification and resolution of challenges: through iterative processes, legal teams can identify potential roadblocks and bottlenecks early in the development cycle and prevent wasting valuable resources. Addressing challenges in iterations allows for creative solutions, ensuring a robust final product. This proactive problem-solving is invaluable for legal innovation’s success.
- Optimizing processes and workflows: regular iterations allow legal teams to analyze workflows systematically, identifying inefficiencies and areas for improvement. This optimization saves time, reduces costs, and boosts productivity.
- Building stakeholder confidence: legal innovation often involves multiple stakeholders, including clients, partners, and internal teams. Through iteration, legal professionals can demonstrate progress and improvements over time, building confidence and support among stakeholders.
- Encouraging a culture of innovation: iterative processes promote a culture of innovation within legal organizations. When legal teams witness the positive outcomes of iterative approaches, they are more inclined to propose new ideas and solutions, which ultimately fosters an environment in which legal innovation becomes a natural part of the organization’s DNA.
The transformative power of feedback and iteration cannot be underestimated in the process toward successful legal innovation, and in the application-building realm, it is oftentimes already an integral part of the development process in the so-called wire-framing stage. At the end of the day, application building in the legal environment is not merely a development cycle; it is a collaborative partnership between different stakeholders involved in the process. As the feedback loop continues, the legal innovation process not only thrives but also paves the way for a future where technology and law seamlessly intertwine, setting apart truly innovative legal solutions.
Involving the right people to make a change
That the legal innovation process is a collaborative partnership suggests that it is not a solitary endeavor but rather that it requires the expertise and insights of various stakeholders, including at least end-users, low-code/no-code developers, and IT experts. Involving the right people in the legal innovation process is pivotal to its success for several reasons:
- Diverse perspectives drive creativity and enhance the domain-specific relevance of LegalTech solutions.
- End-user input drives user-centric solutions that are more likely to be adopted, enhancing overall client satisfaction and internal efficiency.
- The involvement of diverse stakeholders fosters a culture of collaboration that enriches the innovation process and promotes a sense of ownership and collective responsibility for the success of the innovation initiatives.
- Involving the right people can form the basis for the establishment of an iterative process fuelled by valuable feedback.
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