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It’s Complicated: The Attorney-Technology Relationship

Posted by Gaby Isturiz on December 2, 2016 at 3:39 PM


We’re all familiar with the eyebrow-raising relationship status on Facebook, “it’s complicated.” If attorneys were to assign a relationship status to their feeling toward technology, my guess is that it would be “it’s complicated.”

A silly comparison? Yes, perhaps. However, there is a lot that the legal industry gets wrong about attorneys and their feelings toward technology.

According to the ABA Journal, the new president-elect of the ABA thinks more attorneys need to embrace technology, and is urging them to not let fear of technology keep the legal profession behind other professions. But, is a fear of technology the root of the problem here?

The prevailing thought in legal is that attorneys are scared: fearful of the cloud and/or hesitant to learn new technologies. However, if you consider the results of the ILTA Technology Survey, attorneys are heavy users of the latest devices and apps, including smart watches and social media.

It is true that attorneys are skeptical of using new technology, but the reason why might surprise you.

In a recent case study, we profiled Kat Joyce, Partner at Bernstein Shur. When we asked her about her relationship with technology, she said “I have a very tenuous relationship with technology. We don’t always jive. I think that attorneys have heard way too many times that something that is really geared to making the firm’s life easier will be easier for them. I think there’s this sense of impending doom whenever anyone comes out of IT and says, ‘I have some new software for you.’ ‘No! I don’t want it!’ is the typical response from attorneys. There’s this general resistance to new technologies because time and time again, the software, doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, or it takes a huge amount of training in order to really take full advantage of it,” said Joyce.

Attorneys don’t fear technology, they fear wasting their time. And past situations have led them to believe that this is exactly what will happen when a new technology is introduced.

So, what can you do to change attorneys’ perceptions of technology? Change the way you purchase and implement technology solutions! Here are a few tips:

#1: Address the learning curve: While attorneys aren’t afraid to learn new technologies, they do take issue when the technology solution that the firm has selected requires several hours of training and learning overly complicated solutions. Instead choose an intuitive and easy to learn solution that takes minimal time and effort to get started.

#2: Evaluate prospective vendors from the attorney’s perspective: Does the technology that you are considering make it easy for the attorney to do what they need to do? Does it add convenience or does it disrupt their process? Look at the user experience from the perspective of the attorney to decide whether the proposed solution will realistically make attorneys’ lives better.

#3: Take your technology launch seriously: If you want to guarantee that adoption of a new technology will fail, completely avoid launching the solution internally. The most successful attorney engagement in technology happens when there is a formal kick-off to get the word out about the new technology and teach attorneys what they need to know (as quickly as possible) to get started.

The bottom line is this: attorneys aren’t adverse to new technology, they are simply not interested in technology that doesn’t work for them. All things considered, can we blame them?

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Topics: Attorneys

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