Guest post: Lawtech strategies – Key considerations to make before choosing to invest

By Ash Finnegan, digital transformation officer at Conga

TheCityUK[1] revealed that in the last two years across the UK, approximately £675 million has been invested into lawtech to meet the rising demands placed on the sector. In fact, researchers estimate that UK lawtech investment will reach £2.2 billion within the next four years, a prediction that is based on average annual growth that has more than doubled between 2017 and 2020.

While this sets the foundation for further innovation across the legal sector, stakeholders need to be more mindful of the technology that they are investing in and adopting.

Traditional law firms, alternative legal service providers and in-house legal departments are turning to lawtech to enhance the efficiency of their day-to-day legal processes. This is because it proves to serve a vital role throughout the legal industry, as it can increase the speed and accuracy of overall business operations, such as contract management, streamlining workloads and document processing.

However, with large sums of money at stake, there are several factors law firms should consider before making any major lawtech investment.

Key considerations before investing

Gartner revealed that more than 20 percent[2] of legal departments are side-tracked by unplanned and high urgency tasks. With this in mind, business leaders within the sector are looking for more efficient ways of mitigating risks and balancing the responsibilities that come with it, whilst maximising every revenue opportunity possible. While automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are promising technologies to accomplish these goals, they are not easy to implement as part of a wider transformation strategy and can even prove costly, if executed poorly.

Given the current economic climate, law teams’ budgets will be tight. Before investing in any technology, its important business leaders take a step back, look at their current business model and complete a ‘situational’ analysis. Regardless of the size of the business, organisations must complete a thorough assessment to understand where their digital maturity is today. This involves analysing their current operational model, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and establishing how they can better connect with and service their clients.

Digital transformation is all about connecting people, processes and technology. Leaders should start by reviewing their own business and identifying key objectives, rather than adopting any transformation technology without direction. There can be a large number of teams, processes and systems involved, many of which are siloed or disconnected, resulting in serious operational complexity, inefficiencies and data leakage. Successful transformation involves the alignment of all these factors.

Most importantly, law firms or legal teams need to be patient. They do not need to do everything at once, however they do need to involve the teams who will be affected in order to complete a thorough assessment. By involving the right people who have enough expertise to guide the project, this assessment can help legal teams to identify existing strengths and weaknesses in business processes, evaluate the current operational model, and determine how to better communicate between departments and with their client base.

How to decide on (and implement) a lawtech solution

Digital transformation helps organisations to re-evaluate their own internal operational processes to determine where and how to improve the use of the company’s own data and technology. To help consolidate the influx of data and better manage the digital transformation journey, the use of a revenue operations (RevOps) framework can be greatly beneficial.

Legal departments and law firms about to take on a transformation project – regardless of size, industry or complexity – should consider following a ‘RevOps framework.’ The use of a RevOps framework can help law firms and departments to streamline their data cycle, unify record systems and integrate their technology systems. This way, law firms can identify the progress of their business transformation journey and establish a comprehensive roadmap for guidance throughout the process.

Only once the data and internal documents have been successfully digitised, organised and stored appropriately, can automation through AI and machine learning (ML) come into play. This way, the RevOps process can be automatically configured to continually improve customer experiences and other targeted outcomes, for example increased personalisation to drive revenue.

This can be a difficult undertaking for many legal departments, as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to executing a project of this kind and it is likely to differ from business to business. To help successfully guide the project, the right people with the right know-how, must be involved throughout the transformation journey. Their knowledge and insights are needed to pinpoint key aspects of the business, focus on the processes that matter, and identify other areas of improvement necessary to achieve the biggest return on investment.

Major changes are often made without considering the teams involved and how this will affect their job roles. Therefore, it is vital that employees are on-board from the start and realise the need for any major changes to ensure wider adoption across an organisation. To accomplish this, leaders must reassure their teams by explaining why the solution is, indeed, their ally, or how the change is beneficial to their roles. It is often best practice to discuss these initiatives with each department ahead of implementation, as leaders themselves may be unaware of current processes or inefficiencies and it allows employees to offer valuable insights into how communication or data-sharing could be improved across the business.

The digital transformation journey is a phased process which needs to be considered at each step – with all data, processes and systems needing to be aligned. Law firms and legal practices must be strategic with their investments and approach their digital transformation with patience by carefully rolling out their implementation strategy and planning ahead. Through strategic planning, thorough assessments, communicating with staff and following a comprehensive RevOps framework, legal teams can ensure a high and lasting return following their lawtech investments.