Academy award winning actor and producer, Sean Connery once said “There's always a new challenge to keep you motivated.” This year, much like last year and the year before and every year since the beginning of the practice of law, law firms will encounter many challenges.
The always-anticipated ILTA Technology Survey is out and it outlines some of the key challenges that are top of mind for today’s firms. As we did last year, we’ll take a look at the “issues and annoyances” that law firms are facing and discuss potential solutions.
Challenge #1: Security/Compliance
Like last year, security/compliance is considered to be the top issue/annoyance faced by law firms. Although a lower percentage of firms than last year chose this as their top concern (dropped from 39% to 34%), it is still the top issue on the list - and it should be. As the keepers of some of the most sensitive information on their clients, law firms are particularly vulnerable targets of cyber crime. The most challenging aspect of this issue is that the environment is constantly changing as cybercriminals continuously evolve and become more sophisticated. Security and compliance must always be a top priority for firms, who are entrusted to keep their clients’ private data safe. Furthermore, many outside counsel guidelines are trending toward the inclusion of specific security protocols that must be followed in order to ensure the highest level of protection.
Solution: Choose Top-of-the-Line Security
Security should be a top priority for firms this year. Be sure that your firm (and any vendor you work with) is adhering to the most advanced industry standards for maintaining a secure environment, such as multi-factor authentication, never storing data on devices, and conducting extensive training with users on safe security practices. Check out our Mobile Security Checklist for more information on how you can keep your firm safe.
Challenge #2: Change: Users’ Acceptance of Change
As greek philosopher Eraclitus once said, “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”. Change is almost always difficult, which is why there are consulting firms all over the world dedicated to facilitating change in organizations! According to this infographic, 70% of organizational change initiatives fail to achieve their desired impact. Among the factors that contribute to this failure, employee resistance is to blame 39% of the time. Although change may not be welcome, it is possible. While there will always be resistors to new technology, we’ve found that change is most successful when the parties that need to adopt a new solution are involved from early on in the process.
Solution: Get buy-in and keep it simple
In order to earn end user buy-in, it is essential that management communicate expectations and explain to their teams why change is necessary to remain competitive. People must understand “the why” behind any change initiative before you can get buy-in.
Another way to get buy-in is to engage with end users as part of the vendor selection process in order to make sure that their needs are heard and that they are part of the process. When an end user is part of the vendor selection process, they are much less likely to resist the new technology when it is rolled out.
Challenge #3: Change: Managing Expectations (Users & Management)
It is often said that attorneys have an adverse relationship with technology, but this is simply not true! Attorneys have been burned too many times with the solutions that promote lofty and unrealistic expectations, only to underdeliver. Having seen this many times, they think “why waste my time on another technology that is promising the world, when experience tells me that it won’t deliver?” It’s that simple. The key to managing expectations is to avoid the tendency to overpromise and underdeliver, when it comes to new technology implementation.
Solution: Be honest about what it will take
Be realistic about what a solution can and cannot do for the end user. Communicate accurately how much and what kind of training will be necessary to start using the solution.
How to Get it Right This Year
When it comes to implementing new technology solutions, here are a few simple tips to help you get it right:
- Set realistic goals and consider practicing a “divide and conquer” approach to carrying out new technology implementation.
- Maximize your vendor relationship to develop a roll out strategy that is tailored to the needs of your firm.
- Work with firms that have a strong customer success team in place that has demonstrated success helping firms like yours leverage their technology.
Like every year, this year too will have its challenges. That said, there is no reason that law firms can’t meet those challenges with creative problem solving, innovation and a commitment to excellence.
What sorts of challenges do you anticipate this year? Share your comments below.