Whether your firm is simply exploring options to remain competitive in the market, or if you are trying to catch up after being thrust into new technology as you adapt to practicing law in a pandemic, new means change, and change is rarely easy. Adopting new legal technology comes with an array of challenges, as attorneys struggle to balance their professional responsibilities with client satisfaction, business practices, and profit.
Incorporating new technology in the legal field is a slow process often met with opposition. In an industry heavily regulated by policy, procedures, and lots of rules, even the slightest change can trigger hesitation despite promises of reducing costs, saving time, and boosting profits. What are the biggest challenges to adopting new legal technology? Cost, risk, clients, and security are common concerns when it comes to making changes to the practice of law.
Adopting new technology can be expensive. Not only does the software, program, or related materials often bear a hefty price tag, but there are often hidden costs associated with implementing new technology. Learning to use new technology takes time and training, which means employees are not working billable hours. Additionally, tasks may take longer during the learning period, and there may be downtime as information is integrated into the new technology.
What if the new technology does not deliver the expected results? As attorneys strive to meet deadlines, work under time constraints, and profit from work performed under billable hours, it is natural to be leery of the promises that come with new technology: expanding the firm’s capacity, improving customer service, improving efficiency, and boosting profits. While you may do your due diligence in researching how new technology has affected other firms before yours, there is no way to know how the new technology will impact your operation until it is implemented.
Adopting new technology may reveal compatibility issues with existing platforms or systems your firm uses, and this could trigger an avalanche of costly and mandatory updates to avoid detriment to your practice. Still, there is the risk that not expanding and improving your practice through new technology could allow other firms to surge by, leaving your firm and its outdated and obsolete ways in the dust.
- The Client
Managing client expectations is one of the most challenging responsibilities of the legal practice. As technology advances, client expectations grow. Quicker response times, improved accessibility, and a demand for more favorable outcomes will increase. Additionally, clients who have worked with other firms may compare your processes and performance to other firms who may have already implemented new technology that has set a new standard further driving up client expectations.
Confidentiality is paramount to the practice of law. Attorneys are trusted not only to represent their clients’ best interests in some of the most vulnerable times but must also protect sensitive information. While new technology may promise a high level of security, the assurance of the salesperson is rarely enough to ease the concerns of an attorney entrusted with privileged, confidential information.
So, how do you overcome challenges to adopting the new legal technology necessary to improve your practice? Consider the return on investment and prioritize adopting the most essential technology that will alleviate a weak spot in your firm’s efficiency. Successfully adopting one new form of technology will make it easier to sell your firm on the need to continue to grow and evolve, adopting the new technology necessary to help your practice thrive.