Beyond the silo, where next for the legal sector?
by Tim Long, Managing Director, Zylpha Ltd.
With law firms seeking to boost profits and meet ever increasing client demands, there is a growing trend for legal IT departments to develop and implement greater efficiency gains, the rise in document management systems such as iManage being one.
From speaking with our clients and prospects the message is clear: Evolve now or become irrelevant.
Here are just some of the solutions that Zylpha clients have begun to implement.
Innovation is not the answer if it’s kept in a silo.Before we begin, let’s take a minute to remember that the primary focus of innovation should be on the client. Practices are in the people business as it is the clients that pay the bills. Yet, in reality, too much is made of those technology solutions that do not improve a practice’s relationship with its clients. In their quest to differentiate themselves from their competitors, some practices have started to use any recently made innovation they can point a finger at as a useful enticement for customers to buy their services. Our biggest problem with this kind of innovation is that we are constantly and inexorably searching for more technology advancement irrespective of its impact on client service. All this leaves us with is a series of expensive solutions that, all too often, have not been utilised across the entire organisation. A carefully deployed document management system is worth far more than a handful of poorly executed single department specific innovations.
The office is no longer important.From our report The Legal Landscape there is a growing trend to move to agile ways of working to enable them to work at client sites, work from remote locations at times to suit clients and also to optimise fee-earners’ downtime when travelling or out of the office.
Having access to your emails is the de facto standard rather than the exception. However, this is not enough anymore and we have noticed a trend in firms beginning to choose IT solutions which enable legal professionals to have access to their document management system and their key files whilst out of the office.
Increased digitisation and the growth of online services.
Firms will expect to see further improvements in processes and accessibility to their document management files with more systems becoming electronic and digital in 2016. Once again client expectations will drive this efficiency as they demand access to services outside of regular working hours. This is the norm outside of the legal sector.
Overall, the clients of law firms too are now using the internet and digital services more fully and on a daily basis, so many now expect the same level of interactivity form their legal advisors.
Legal IT delivers ROI
In the past, the IT department has been seen as the purchaser of services to help fix a problem.
However, we have seen a trend that new ICT solutions must now bring benefits to the business as a whole which delivers a more streamlined and speedier process; but without reducing the quality of the service delivered. Put simply, the technology has to evolve with the demands of the client. It is no longer enough to just implement a document management system and think the project is completed – now is the time to drive additional ROI leveraging integrations between both existing document management systems and new solutions.