In today’s service-oriented culture, consumers expect efficient, organised, and cost-effective service — so why should legal services be any different? Despite the prevailing mindset, Legal Ombudsman’s 2020/21 complaints data showed over half of complaints cited poor service. However, this data presents an opportunity for firms to understand where to deploy spend to improve, win more business, and edge ahead of the competition.
Many firms have turned to technology to help them improve in the critical areas. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), in its Technology and Innovation in Legal Services Report, 2021, 51% of law firms were increasing their use of technology to improve service quality and efficiency — something that 71% of law firms with large corporate clients were already doing, with a further 22% not far behind.
Beyond the provisions of stand-out legal services, there are other, important factors fuelling the rush to optimise and improve — areas where tech can help your firm improve to win more business and remain competitive. To thrive in the years ahead, savvy firms will be the ones that have recognised the opportunity afforded by tech, and seized it.
As clients look for service delivery that matches their consumer experience, don’t get left behind:
83% of firms agree that too much of their lawyers’ time was spent on administrative tasks, yet
81% of those firms had not addressed the issue.
What’s fuelling the rush to optimise?
1. The competition won’t wait for you
According to the SRA there were many factors influencing the level of competition in the legal services market — everything from regulatory reform to an increased use of technology. Alternative business structures (ABS) and alternative legal service providers were more likely to innovate than traditional law firms. Improvements ranged from unbundling legal services to an increased use of fixed costs and, importantly, using technological innovation to respond to changing consumer habits. As the prevalence of innovation expands, it’s important that firms remain competitive, both in terms of pricing and service delivery by utilising the best of what legal tech can offer.
2. Lawyers are being offered better
The competition for great talent is fierce. The ThomsonReuters Institute’s 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market noted:
“Some firms are facing associate turnover that exceeds 25%. Rather than losing one-half of their associates over five years (the largely accepted metric prior to the pandemic), these firms now risk losing 125% of their associates in that same time frame.”
In this ground-breaking study, those firms who stood out for their ability to retain and attract talent demonstrated defining characteristics, including lawyers who were more likely to self-identify as an innovator or early adopters of new technology. To this point, technology is capable of releasing talent from the burnout by reducing the mundane data-driven tasks associated with legal service delivery and providing more time to focus on substantive, career-defining work.
3. Technology can meet legal expectations
“There is a better way” is something we’ve heard a lot from technology over the last few decades, but how often has the pitch met the expectation? In 2022, the legal tech market has changed. As ThomsonReuters notes “..making a single strategic investment can pay almost immediate dividends.” The key word here is “single.” Gone are the days where you might buy a multitude of solutions to deal with a multitude of individual problems. Great legal technology can centralise and rationalise processes across a multitude of disciplines, from disclosure to document review, matter management to client communication.
This human factor aside, there is one other driver of the increased move towards technology-powered processes in law: the Disclosure Pilot, which could mandate the use of technology. We’ll hear the conclusions next year, but now is certainly the time to start planning what this could mean for your disclosure processes and more.
Be the firm every other firm wants to be
As ThomsonReuters documents in this year’s State of the UK The UK Legal Market Report, the UK legal market is experiencing its highest level of client spend optimism in the last five years. To harness the opportunity afforded by market buoyancy and resist being outpaced by the competition, now is the time to consider investments in technology that will future-proof and sustain your firm’s business.
Because we know how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day, we’ve put together a list of factors that will help your firm identify its under-performing processes and inform your strategy to improve with technology.
Factors that affect the bottom line:
1. Constant write-downs
If you’re writing down almost every job, it’s a sure sign there is something unhealthy going on with your key processes. To remain competitive, firms must look at what they charge, and how they charge and the efficiency of the billing process, the efficiency with which they bill, and the amount of hours and resulting revenue they voluntarily lose to write-downs
2. Lack of insight about where lawyer time is spent
If your firm struggles to record where time is being spent, it will struggle to understand how to improve speed-to-outcome. Consider investing in a legal operation capability, technology or staff, or mirror elements of that function, to help map inefficiencies between processes and operations and help prospect solutions.
3. You start every case from scratch
Knowledge capital is a huge part of your firm’s unique selling point. It’s what differentiates your expertise from everyone else. If that knowledge sits in silos, or even with individuals, it can be difficult to extract without huge effort and can easily be lost with employee attrition. Consider investing in tools that capitalise on your firm’s innate and untapped knowledge capital with cross-matter AI-assistance — tools like DISCO Ediscovery which employs continuous learning to help you find the documents you are looking for faster.
4. You rely too heavily on external freelance lawyers to meet disclosure deadlines
Depending on the size and complexity of the legal matter in question, this is a very common occurrence. However, there will often be a dip in efficiency as new team members are assembled and onboarded to your processes. Consider a document review service like DISCO Review where review teams are led by industry veterans with decades of experience running high-stakes managed reviews — experts at leveraging DISCO AI to find responsive documents faster and reduce the number of documents requiring individual review.
5. Clients routinely complain about fees
Running over budget is a common challenge for law firms undertaking labour-intensive and complex disclosure matters, and it’s often because of added extra costs that some edisclosure vendors and service providers obfuscate. Minimise or remove that concern by partnering with an edisclosure vendor like DISCO who provides transparent pricing with built-in efficiencies that enable lawyers to get through projects faster to potentially reduce the number of hours they're spending on projects and the resulting write-downs from clients.
The future is bright when the technology is great
The UK legal market is experiencing its highest level of client spend optimism in the last five years. If you or your firm want to take advantage of a buoyant market, then make an investment in legal tech that can augment your firm’s service delivery excellence, by future-proofing your processes and releasing talent to focus on the work they want to law school for.
Capture a larger share of UK legal service spend by supercharging your firm's processes, talk to DISCO today.