Transform with Technology — 4 Trends Powering Legal Innovation

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Great technology has the capacity to transform the practice of law, but only when it empowers lawyers to become the very best version of themselves. By itself, technology is not a silver bullet that can magically enhance profits and delight clients. Great technology needs great lawyers — a symbiosis that helps lawyers perform to the highest levels. Over the course of the next year, DISCO is going to be exploring how firms can achieve that symbiosis and the ways by which lawyers boosted by technology can create and sustain the thriving legal businesses of tomorrow. 

I'm sure you've heard the buzzwords "transform or die” or "digital revolution." But in truth, there are key challenges that make it necessary for law firms to embrace technology in order to thrive in a changing business environment:

1. A heated fight for talent 

The talent market has changed dramatically. The number of associates leaving U.S. firms in 2021 increased 51% over the average from the previous four years. The competitive job market has pushed associate pay to an all-time high, but it’s not enough to make them stay: nearly 14,000 associates moved firms by mid-December of 2021, up from fewer than 9,300 in 2020. In response, law firms are increasingly looking at how they can transform their practices, including how legacy, routine, and error-prone work can be automated, allowing lawyers and staff to focus on more rewarding work like case strategy, business generation, and client retention. Forward-looking firms realize that tools that are intuitive, create a rewarding experience for employees and clients, and that solve a given problem (without creating any new ones) will make employees more likely to stay at the firm. 

2. A cultural shift in working practices

As firms open offices in new, non-traditional locations, most will look to technology to bring people together and humanize working from home. Innovative law firms, already thinking about attracting and retaining talent, will look beyond digital hangouts — they’ll look at how technology can facilitate and inspire teamwork, and create opportunities for coaching, learning, and networking. Those firms will invest in technology that works regardless of where its users are located, that creates super-users through effective training and gives them a competitive edge with access to the most effective, innovative tools. Those firms understand that investment in great tech isn’t about sacrificing something in reaction to the “new normal,” but rather about harnessing the opportunities presented by access to a global workforce and client base.

3. The need to deliver value-added services to clients

Clients, who have faced increasingly challenging commercial and regulatory conditions over the last decade on top of the global pandemic, will continue to seek sound business advice from outside counsel. In competitive times, firms must demonstrate their technological credentials — faster speed-to-outcomes, robust data-security protocols, and more value per dollar to their clients versus their competition (be it other law firms or alternative legal services providers). Great technology providers understand those pressures and offer business solutions that transform the way firms conduct business, to become trusted business partners to their law firms. 

4. Cost transparency and management

All law firms are under pressure to deliver greater value to their clients while managing their operating costs. These pressures often compete with one another — how to deliver excellent client service without overspending on tools and technology, consultants, and service? In order to minimize this pressure, successful law firms will be looking at technology that has transparent pricing structures — that does not hide charges and additional costs — and that make budgeting and billing easy. 

Tackling the trends — creating the thriving firm of tomorrow 

Transformation doesn’t have to be reactionary — the world will never stand still, nor should firms. Firms that embrace technology can proactively transform and thrive and augment their expertise, standing out from the crowd as innovators in the field of law. 

Great technology, operated by expert lawyers, can: 

  • Drive process efficiencies to improve speed-to-outcomes
  • Enhance strategic decision-making through the use of analytics
  • Attract and retain creative talent looking to improve skills with access to cutting-edge tools
  • Free-up your attorneys to focus on creating winning case strategies
  • Help you manage costs, improve realization, and bill, precisely
  • Proactively inform strategic business decisions

Great technology isn’t complex, and innovation doesn’t have to be difficult — great vendors understand where their solutions can deliver the most impact and will be able to work with you and your firm to augment your business to deliver rapid results.

Time to act 

Law firms that use technology to transform key processes are far more likely to experience ongoing business success. A recent Thomson Reuters and Georgetown Law report concluded that the law firms most open to change would be the ones who would “undoubtedly emerge as the market leaders.”

The main roadblock for law firms is selecting technologies that quickly show measurable results and return on investment. The technology that offers firms the best chance for success is that which has been designed specifically from the point of view of law firms. 

Technology providers who understand that a modern law firm is as much a commercial enterprise as it is a relationship-builder for clients and staff are the ones who can deliver long-lasting, purposeful change to practices. These providers will help reinforce any digital transformation with effective cultural transformation, to ensure their customers experience success when undergoing such seismic change.

DISCO: World-class engineering with a deep love and respect for the law

As a leading provider of software developed by lawyers for lawyers, DISCO is reinventing legal technology to automate and simplify complex and error-prone tasks that distract from practicing law.

DISCO helps law firms manage transformation at speed. While others may offer tools that create the illusion of digital transformation, DISCO’s deep understanding of legal practice, backed by ongoing support from our team of world-class engineers, professional services and DISCO University throughout your transformative journey, allows your organization to thrive, at pace, in the changing legal landscape.

To understand more about what DISCO can do to help create a true digital transformation within your practice, download our ebook.

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Andrew Shimek

Andrew Shimek is Chief Revenue Officer at DISCO. Andrew is an expert in legal technology with over 20 years of leadership experience. Prior to that, he was a practicing attorney.