Accomplishing More With Less: The Value of Legal Tech

Leaders in the today’s legal industry can't be caught up in tech gimmicks. Instead, firms must focus on identifying and implement what strategies work.

Various pictures of legal tech overlapping
Image by Adobe Stock/ARMMY PICCA

GS

Gregory Sirico

March 8, 2024 08:29 AM

Technology has firmly entrenched itself within the legal industry and is approaching a pivotal tipping point. For law firms, the primary focus has shifted toward identification and implementation of substantive tools that work to empower in-house legal leaders, allowing teams to enact meaningful change in their respective organizations.

The Association of Corporate Counsel annually conducts the 2023 Chief Legal Officers Survey, which, according to legal leaders, offers valuable insights into the dynamic of law firm operations. According to the survey, it was revealed that only 38% of Chief Legal Officers (CLOs) intend to expand their legal teams’ tech capabilities this year, down from 45% in the previous year. While this may not signal a significant dynamic shift in the legal industry’s approach to tech, it certainly underscores a call to action for in-house teams to operate more efficiently, especially in technology-driven sectors.

In today’s legal landscape, experienced legal leaders understand the importance of aligning with their firm’s business objectives. To reach this crucial point, CLOs and general counsels must appropriately demonstrate how they individually support firm operations and contribute to overall organizational leadership. As stated, one effective strategy is the integration of useful technological solutions into daily legal operations.

Widespread adoption and effective utilization of technology across the legal team can demonstrate alignment with broader business objectives and reflect a level of maturity expected by executives from all departments within an organization. From automated billing and accounting to client-facing communications and document management, the tech possibilities are endless, propelled further with continuous advancements in AI.

That being said, in-house legal teams would be critical for operation and management of this growing technology. Even during periods of financial constraints, it's essential for in-house teams and attorneys alike to increasingly rely on tech tools to drive strategic changes, prompting more legal leaders to leverage technology for insights and streamline the delivery of legal services. According to the survey, nearly half of CLOs contacted intend to invest in new legal technology solutions within the next year.

However, sometimes, merely investing in new tools isn't enough. In order to ensure success, legal leaders must effectively and consistently utilize technology across the entire team and leverage the resulting data to make an informed decision. This can include measuring workload volumes, turnaround times and demonstrating how efficiencies in legal work delivery contribute to overall progress.

By adopting a disciplined approach to technology investment and implementation, legal leaders can work to enhance the operational efficiency and reputation of the firm. With that, it’s important to understand that every business or firm is unique and requires tailored legal tech solutions. These solutions should look to improve visibility, project management and reporting within the legal function. Technology, though fickle at times, facilitates data-driven decision-making, empowering legal teams to leverage specialized knowledge effectively. However, ensuring data consistency across all legal tech tools is paramount. Legal leaders must focus on measuring the impact of technology adoption and encourage proactive engagement with business objectives.

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