Three Key Challenges Facing Law Firms in 2017

Posted by Gaby Isturiz on Feb 17, 2017 11:52:41 AM


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Each year, we look forward to the release of the annual ILTA technology survey. Always insightful and forward-looking, the ILTA technology Survey takes a look at the technology issues, practices and trends happening at today’s firms and provides an analysis of the “state of technology,” if you will.

This year’s report brought up some of the common “issues or annoyances” faced by today’s firms. You are probably familiar with the common saying “technology is great - when it works!” As it turns out, there are several reasons why technology may not be working (and therefore, causing issues and annoyances) for firms and its attorneys and staff.  

In this post, we’ll take a look at the “Top Technology Issues or Annoyances at Law Firms” as indicated in the 2016 ILTA Technology Survey and what can be done to address them.

 

Issue #1: Security/Compliance

Security is perhaps the largest issue facing law firm technology professionals today. It is easy to see why this topic is on the list of “top issues or annoyances.” After all, there are constant threats - continually evolving in sophistication and volume. Law firms are at especially high risk for a security breach due to the type of information that they store on their (often high profile) clients. When a leak like this happens, the firm must make that uncomfortable call alerting the client to the breach, and in turn, exposes the firm to potential lawsuits initiated by the clients - definitely not the type of client relationship you are hoping to cultivate!

Solution:

While there is no sure-fire way to prevent a leak, there are several best practices that can be followed in order to keep your data as secure as possible. Be sure to implement mobile device management (MDM), utilize 2-factor authentication, select mobile apps and vendors with the highest security standards, refrain from storing data on devices and conduct user training on security best practices.


Issue #2: Change Management

It’s true: “change” can be a bit of a dirty word for all users but especially for attorneys - it isn’t something that they typically get excited about. The reason is simple. In a typical training and new technology implementation, attorneys don’t get the value that they are promised. In other words, attorneys have been burned in the past by overly complex solutions and lengthy and confusing training sessions. Attorneys want to do one thing: practice law. Complicated technology solutions are a productivity drain for attorneys, which is why they resist change.

Solution:

Choose a solution that is truly user-friendly for attorneys and, therefore, does not require extensive training and that can add immediate value to them. We recommend a 10 minute or less training. If your solution cannot be addressed in this timeframe, you’ve got the wrong solution! Presenting a quick, stand-up style training to attorneys (and keeping your word on the length) will do wonders in terms of meeting their needs and getting the participation you are hoping for.


Issue #3: Keeping up with new versions of software

Keeping up with a legacy software product requires a ton of work. From the moment you perform enterprise software updates, it becomes obsolete, leading to a never ending update cycle. This ties up precious IT resources that could be devoted to more high-value activities on behalf of the firm. In addition to the struggles of keeping up with maintenance and updates, there is additional workload in terms of user training, updating manuals and completing other necessary tasks to fully rollout the update. It’s a lose-lose for everyone at the firm.

Solution:

We now live in an “as a service” world. While consumers have heavily adopted the “as a service” model (games, music, tv, software, etc.), legal and professional services are still behind. A SaaS solution will work in your law firm’s favor, rather than being subject to the painful burdens of legacy enterprise software! Moving to a cloud solution with a SaaS solution means that maintenance, upgrades and support are handled by the vendor, thus reducing the drain on IT resources. Just be sure that you are choosing a true SaaS vendor - legacy software vendors have gotten tricky over the past few years, introducing a subscription model in pricing similar to that of the SaaS model, and they are not one in the same.

Bonus Issue: The yearn for efficiency

One of the issues presented in a recent ALM article showed that corporate counsel are craving technology solutions that increase efficiency. Here’s a summary of the results of the survey that they conducted on this topic:

  • 68% want efficiency
  • 60% want easy integration
  • 77% say working remotely is a benefit
  • 33% concerned about skill required to use technology

The relationship that attorneys have with technology is complicated. The reason for this is that too many times, attorneys have been promised “efficiency” and instead received frustration and complexity.

Solution:

In order to provide a technology solution that gives attorneys the efficiency that they are looking for, choose a vendor that can promise:

  • Simplicity in the user experience of the app or technology
  • Same-day implementation
  • True mobility - on any device, from any location at any time
  • Minimal training requirements

Despite how often firms experience the above issues, there are simple solutions that can be put in place to dramatically reduce or eliminate the degree of annoyance. What are some of the top issues and/or annoyances you face at your firm? Share your comments below.

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