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Three Challenges for Law Firms to Tackle in 2019

Posted by Gaby Isturiz on January 19, 2019 at 10:51 AM


Each year brings about its distinct set of challenges, and of course, this year will be no different. That said, this is quite a time to work within the legal industry. Perhaps more than any other time in history, there are now a vast array of technology solutions available to help you overcome even the most daunting of obstacles.

While reviewing the most recent ILTA Technology Survey, it occurred to me that many of the “Trends and Annoyances” discussed in this year’s report, could be addressed through a combination of leadership and technology. In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of the most impactful challenges discussed in the ILTA Technology Survey and how they can be addressed at your firm, utilizing the right approaches to management and technology for your firm.

#1: Change: Users’ Acceptance of Change

According to the ILTA survey, this is the most prevalent annoyance for most firms (35% of respondents). Of course, change is hard. However, one of the things that we’ve found most often in working with law firms is that attorneys and staff have been burned too many times with technology changes that over promise and under deliver, or are so complicated to learn that they require a significant amount of time and stress in order to allow the user to do what they need to do.

What to do: Begin Managing Change Before it Happens

As a leader, your role is to manage the change - and get started as early as possible when a change is coming. Here are a few tips as it relates to initiating a technology change:

  • Establish a deep level of understanding of the user experience needed and core functions that the solution needs to complete.
  • Engage the end user early in the process in order to be sure that prospective solutions will meet their needs.
  • Create clear expectations for how the transition to the new solution will occur.
  • Keep training and implementation as simple as possible.
  • In this era, where cloud-based SaaS solutions are readily available, don’t favor legacy solutions that will create unnecessary implementation and maintenance headaches for your team.

#2: Security Compliance/Risk Management

In terms of managing your firm’s level of risk, security is certainly one of the most important areas of focus. It is no secret that law firms are major targets due to the sensitive nature of the data that is stored on the firm’s servers. So, what is the best way to handle this “annoyance”? Lean into it.

What to do: Get Clear About Security Compliance and Make it a Priority

Security issues aren’t going away. In fact, if anything, they will continue to get more complex as cybercriminals increase in sophistication. Since your firm essentially has no choice but to make this a priority, here are a few things that you can do to make it less burdensome:

  • Get clear about client expectations for the way that you handle data and adhere to security standards, as outlined in Outside Counsel Guidelines.
  • Make a commitment to follow the highest standards and best practices in security management.
  • Create a security-minded firm, by making data security part of the organizational culture.
  • Be wary of security concerns when choosing vendors. Ensure that the standards that prospective vendors follow is at, or above, the level of your firm.

#3: Change: Keeping Up with New Versions of Software

If your firm responded to the ILTA survey listing this as a top annoyance, it’s time to make some changes. Keeping up with new versions of software is a resource-intensive and stressful process. It’s also unnecessary, given the availability of SaaS solutions that will automatically make the latest version of the software available to you at all times. Costly, cumbersome, obsolete software solutions have no place in the modern law firm.

What to do: Stop Living in the Past, Embrace SaaS

Choose a vendor that offers a SaaS solution. With the right vendor, implementations and IT resources required can be minimal and you can be sure that you are always using the latest version of the product. Furthermore, the subscription-based pricing model allows the vendor to bring more value to your firm. Be sure, however, that your vendor is truly offering SaaS, as opposed to simply disguising a legacy product behind a subscription-based pricing model. Make sure that the SaaS provider also meets the highest security and compliance standards.

The good news is that this year’s “Trends and Annoyances” are extremely manageable with the right leadership, solutions and vendor relationships.

How do you plan to address these challenges at your firm this year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Managing Outside Counsel Guidelines 

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