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Tech it or leave it? Five myths about law firms and technology

Tech it or leave it? Five myths about law firms and technology

The legal sector is under pressure to increase productivity and collaboration to meet clients’ rising expectations for enhanced services and faster access to financial data anytime, anywhere. Technology such as cloud-based solutions, portable and mobile devices, in addition to the emergence of artificial intelligence, are considered vital in enabling law firms to address these challenges head-on while driving growth.

But doubts remain as to lawyers’ willingness to embrace modern and more flexible ways of working. Recent research conducted by Microsoft has revealed that 86 per cent of lawyers still rely on manual, paper-based processes to complete legal tasks. In contrast, just one in five (20 per cent) said their firm had equipped them with the right technology to work seamlessly in and out of the office.

This blog will examine five IT myths about law firms and how the legal sector can leverage technological innovations to positively shape their firm’s long-term future.

Lawyers are resistant to technology – once typically averse to change, more lawyers than ever appear willing to adopt technology to achieve efficiencies. This year’s UK 200: Business Services report highlights that 84 per cent of law firms are elevating technology higher up on their strategic agenda which is underpinned by 66 per cent increasing their IT budgets in 2017 compared to last year. If your company isn’t one of them, you could be left behind.

Digital transformation does not provide tangible benefits – by replacing outdated and standalone legacy systems, cloud-based practice management software can seamlessly connect desktop, tablet and smartphone devices to provide secure access to client critical files, financial data and billing information from any location to transform efficiency. Artificial intelligence technology further boosts productivity by allowing lawyers to type a question into a mobile app when researching historical cases and legislation. The required information is made available in seconds, replacing the need to spend hours wading through paper-based files and journals.

Security hackers only target larger firms – *73 per cent of the UK top 100 legal businesses suffered data security breaches last year. However smaller firms are arguably more susceptible to hackers by not investing in encryption applications, robust IT infrastructures and cyber insurance policies. Increasingly, criminals are targeting smaller law firms more frequently than larger firms for ransomware demands as they are less likely to have sophisticated controls and processes in place to block malicious activity.

Law firms can’t keep up with the pace of change – technology is evolving rapidly but the speed of innovation needn’t be a barrier for legal practices who wish to compete with bigger rivals. Flexible and tailored asset finance solutions from trusted specialists, such as Wesleyan Bank, allow the cost of IT investments to be spread over a period from one to five years and cover software, hardware and associated implementation, maintenance and support costs. This ensures ambitious law firms can quickly adopt emerging technologies without impacting their cash flow by purchasing new assets upfront which could soon become outdated.

Start-ups cannot compete with established, traditional firms – your firm might be successful now but without a digital transformation strategy you may struggle to flourish in the future. More businesses are working with tech-savvy start-ups who are using automated solutions to streamline labour intensive legal work to offer faster and more reliable services. Standing still could cost you not only your clients, but also some of your staff, as the next generation of lawyers demand to adopt cutting-edge innovations so they can focus on more value-added tasks.

Technology is levelling the playing field in the legal sector and is set to have an unprecedented impact on law firms over the next five years. While some may continue to rely on archaic processes and unsupported legacy systems, those that do wish to get ahead can be reassured that specialist finance providers can offer bespoke solutions to support them at every stage of their business lifecycle.

*Research obtained from PwC’s 25th annual Law Firms Survey

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