There is no doubt left about the necessity of being prepared for the digital age, even in the minds of law firms. Since this is a challenging and unfamiliar process, here we offer some advice on the necessary steps. But first, a general tip: Do not rush. Take the necessary time. After all, you are a pioneer, and want to manage a digital transition in a sensible working area.
Creating an Internal Legal Tech Strategy
First, you will need to do a workflow analysis for your law firm. Take a look at your processes and their efficiency to see what can be improved. Including your partners and staff in this step can provide valuable insight, without interfering with their work.
The next step is to develop a roadmap for the transition process. This written legal tech strategy should be as detailed and comprehensive as possible. While developing it, you should break down each of its sections into actionable points and be sure to include a timeline in order to stay focused and on task.
Building up an internal IT team will ensure that you will have a smooth transition and strong maintenance after the switch. You should consider its members, their competence, and their responsibility, and develop a contingency plan. Overall, it should be able to handle all of the desired changes, as well as potential upgrades in the future.
Find the Best Software and Apps
Considering the volume of apps and programs that are out there, it is a challenging task to find the ones that best suit your firm’s needs. The most important types of legal tech and the requirements on them are broken down below:
(1) The best document automation apps should be smart, meaning that they are easy to adopt and compatible with your current analog systems. Also, they should be able to generate contracts which are used on a large scale. (2) After going digital you will have to analyze and manage a lot of data with capable software. This will deliver a comprehensive real-time analysis of the firm and how it operates in order to facilitate it’s management. (3) Compliance apps ensure the general legal adherence of your law firm. They should be able to adapt to changing rules and regulations. (4) There is even e-discovery software that can help you to clarify your cases. (5) Legal research software will cut down your paralegals time and make your firm more cost-effective as well.
Implement the Software
You should begin implementing software into your operations in a testing phase to determine potential bugs, setbacks or synergetic malfunctions. Fixing them is far easier the fewer people are using the software.
You will want to stagger this process, so it does not disrupt daily operations. If everyone is switching over to a digital strategy at the same time, it could cause a variety of unforeseen problems that could do irreparable harm to your firm and its reputation. Starting slow will also help you adapt based on any potential issues that you did not consider before.
The next step is to roll out the new systems across the whole firm. Make sure that everyone involved is assisted in getting acquainted with the new system. As helpful as technology is, it can be overwhelming and glitchy at times, especially in the case of new and untested software. Be sure to have a contingency plan in place in case of a system crash.
If everyone in your firm is on board, go live. Errors will occur, be prepared to face them.
After transitioning to a digital law firm, it will be much easier to make adjustments and adapt to new policies and future technologies. Should everything run smoothly, do not hesitate to incorporate new digital systems and digitize more elements of your law firm as well.
About the Authors
Dr. Guenther Dobrauz
Dr. Guenther Dobrauz is a Partner with PwC in Zurich and Leader PwC Legal Switzerland as well as a member of PwC’s Global Legal Leadership Team where he is in particular responsible for the firm’s global Legal Tech initiatives. Guenther is a Financial Services Regulatory expert, author of several books and lecturer at various universities.
Philipp Rosenauer Philipp is a Senior Manager with PwC Zurich. In his position as Head Legal Tech & Legal Strategy Advisory Philipp focuses on disruptive Innovation in the Legal Tech and RegTech market.
Steve Hafner Steve is a Senior Manager with PwC Zurich and Head Managed Legal Services & Legal Process. He is advising clients of all industries in optimizing their sourcing strategies for legal services and is responsible for managing large scale legal sourcing projects.
This text is an excerpt from the article by Dr. Guenther Dobrauz / Philipp Rosenauer / Steve Hafner, “Digital Strategy for Legal Stakeholders – Roadmap to success“, Rethinking Law (REL1300577), pp. 80 ‑ 84.