Adapting to the Digital World
In today’s competitive market, it is essential for legal professionals to work hard to enhance client service and they must continually look for ways to understand and anticipate their clients’ priorities, needs, and concerns. Technological advances in the workplace are changing the way people work while allowing companies to maximize their efficiency. Firms whose interests parallel those of their clients have a fundamental advantage over their competition. As technology in the workplace continues to evolve, firms should consider developing some guidelines and practices in regards to how they may integrate innovation as part of their business in order to stay competitive. For example, traditionally, a call from a client meant making an appointment to meet in person. Many of today’s internet-connected consumers are no longer satisfied with face-to-face meetings in regards to doing business. Using modern communication technology, attorneys can join professionals in other fields who now conduct business without having to meet their clients in person.
In another developing trend, corporate clients are often less willing to pay high hourly rates to law firms for junior lawyers to do routine work. In fact, some corporate clients are refusing to pay for any junior time at all on a file. Furthermore, corporate clients are also outsourcing legal work to alternative legal service providers like Axiom, Thomson Reuters, and the Big Four accounting firms. These alternative legal service providers are directly competing with law firms and using technology to achieve a competitive advantage. Those law firms that do not adapt may not survive.
Client demands are changing, putting pressure on law firms to be innovative with the ways they use technology and manage client relationships. Today’s legal professionals must recognise that an investment in technology is essential to secure repeat business from clients. When firms can make communication and interaction with their clients as convenient and pain free as possible, they will create a customer service experience that impresses clients and leads to referrals. A lack of knowledge about the technologies that are available means law firms may miss out on more efficient ways of operating their practices.
Furthermore, new lawyers who have grown up more closely with technology are pushing for their firms to modernise too – a shift from previous generations who would mostly emulate their mentors and resist technology. However, even as technology continues to evolve, lawyers and legal support personnel will remain vital to the practice of law.
Technology innovation is impacting all industries, not just the legal profession. Although some are of the mindset that technology may serve to replace lawyers and other legal professionals, technology such as dealcloser will instead result in additional free time for lawyers to perform more mission-critical work for their clients. While there is no doubt that there will be some growing pains associated with the transition to technology in the workplace, lawyers should not avoid technology since the potential long-term benefits far outweigh the risk of maintaining the status quo.