How to solve the LegalTech onboarding hurdle
Legal technology can be a particularly mystifying concept and law firms have traditionally struggled to get behind it. It has been a bit of an uphill battle as firms begrudgingly came around to the idea, in part due to legal tech’s adoption by Magic Circle firms.
But following in the footsteps of giants can be difficult for small and medium-sized firms. The onboarding process can be challenging to navigate, and rolling out technology across an entire firm has the potential to create more confusion for lawyers than it would solve.
At Definely, we know how useful LegalTech can be for lawyers at every level. Here we discuss how you can solve the LegalTech onboarding hurdle and invest in technology that lets lawyers help themselves.
Why are firms hesitant to implement new technology?
Law firms are slow to embrace change. If we look back at the legal landscape of 2016, 87% of law firms saw no reason to use artificial intelligence to aid their workflow, according to LexisNexis. By 2020, only 7% of lawyers surveyed used tools that employed AI, as reported by ABAJournal. The pandemic, of course, saw an enormous uptake in the adoption rate, but it was more a question of necessity, rather than innovation.
One of the main reasons law firms are so reluctant to adopt legal technology, is that they often don’t know where to start. Or rather, they believe the onboarding hurdle is a more significant problem than it is in reality. There is something to be said about a lawyer's tendency to focus on the past and how it can be applied to the problems of today, rather than looking ahead to the problems of the future and utilising the best approach currently available to tackle them.
With that said, time constraints are a very real concern for firms operating under the billable hour - Thomson Reuters lists it as one of the main reasons they may be reluctant to change. Under this model, non-billable time is to be avoided, or sped up, at all costs.
Setting up a legal technology suite could take time away from billable work. There is also the onboarding process of getting every lawyer in the firm up to speed with the technology. Many firms believe this is wasted time that could be better spent on client work.
Another reason for hesitancy may be that firms misunderstand what it means to implement technology. LexisNexis reports that some firms will say they have embraced technology when in reality, they have simply set up a website.
While 80% of firms use research and guidance technology, only 20% use automated drafting and proofreading solutions. Ironically, document drafting and proofreading software is precisely the legal tech that could best speed up drafting and proofreading processes, ensuring more time can be spent on higher-value client work.
Demystifying legal technology can ensure firms are utilising and capitalising on it. Here’s how they can do so.
Where should law firms start?
The first step in the LegalTech onboarding process is identifying the pain points of the current setup. Typically, this means auditing the entire firm to understand exactly where time is being lost or wasted. This will help you understand which parts of the firm can be automated and which parts would see minimal benefit from the implementation of legal tech.
Once this has been established, there needs to be some research into the types of LegalTech that can address these specific issues. Charging in head first might cause more issues than it would solve, as not all of it will be useful. The solution is to book a demo and try it out first.
Demystifying the tech
It’s useful to get an understanding of the available types of legal tech. Mondaq outlines 5, including:
With so much on offer, it’s easy to assume that legal tech will be a difficult concept to get your lawyers’ heads around. But the point of this law firm technology is to relieve a specific burden, not add to it.
Take Definely Draft for example - it plugs directly into the current Microsoft Word workflow. This allows lawyers to get up to speed with its features much quicker than if they had to use a completely new piece of software.
Crucially, it also works to ensure lawyers actually use the service. The idea that lawyers will be hesitant to adopt this tech is concerning for law firms when they may spend a lot of money implementing it.
Definely Draft has an innovative “nudge” feature that addresses this. It alerts lawyers of any missing or undefined terms in their document before they close it. This ensures the tech is always front of mind.
But, that’s not all. When firms pilot this solution, not only are they given extensive support and guidance on how best to implement it, but they are also supported in its rollout. Definely works with firms to drive usage, helping to ensure lawyers are aware of its features by working on a case-by-case basis to improve the adoption rate.
However, the important thing to understand is that automation can speed up many of the processes currently taking time away from billable work. And, Magic Circle firms are already leading the charge in its adoption.
Magic Circle firms are implementing technology - so should you
Magic Circle firms have embraced legal tech and they haven’t stopped innovating - if anything, they’ve accelerated. As reported by Law Gazette in 2021, Allen & Overy said technology is “at the top of the agenda”. In response, Clifford Chance began to revamp its technology research and development efforts.
The Financial Times reported that in January 2023, Allen & Overy launched an AI chatbot. It was specifically designed to help its lawyers speed up the document drafting process. Crucially, Allen & Overy believed that this chatbot, named Harvey, wouldn’t simply be a cost-saving exercise. Instead, it was being implemented because “it’s a nice smart way of working”.
Small and medium-sized law firms should take note. LegalTech can help improve the entire firm; it’s not simply a matter of saving time and money - although these are great benefits. Tech is useful to any firm, regardless of size, because it offers more control over and insight into the time certain tasks take. In turn, this allows firm leaders to better understand the scope of services they can provide, whether that be acquiring more clients, or focusing on retaining the ones they currently have.
Legal drafting software empowers lawyers
As we’ve discussed, LegalTech can be incredibly easy to implement, especially when integrated directly into the existing workflow. The idea that it is some “mystifying concept” simply doesn’t hold any water when you consider the largest and most successful firms have invested significant amounts of money in it.
With that said, the best legal technology is that which allows lawyers to help themselves, rather than Content Management Systems (CMS) they’ll never even use. For example, Definely Draft is the only legal document drafting software that assists lawyers in the active drafting stage. It plugs directly into Microsoft Word, offering definitions, cross-references, and more, at the click of a button. There’s no need to move away from the provision currently being worked on, potentially losing context, because everything can be accessed on one screen.
Your firm can trial our legal document drafting solution free today and discover how easily Definely Draft can be implemented into the current workflow.