Top tech challenges for law firms
The legal industry is in the midst of a technological revolution, with digitalisation transforming the way legal services are delivered
As the volume of data and complexity of legal issues continues to grow, legal firms must be equipped with the technology and expertise to keep up. Failing to identify and address IT problems can result in severe consequences, such as increased risks of data breaches, non-compliance with regulatory requirements, decreased productivity, and damage to your firm’s reputation.
Legal firms that proactively address their technology challenges are better positioned to serve their clients and succeed in today’s increasingly competitive legal landscape. In this guide, we’ve identified the biggest tech challenges that affect legal firms across the UK so you can learn the first step towards overcoming them:
- Implementing, integrating and upgrading new and existing technologies such as Practice Management Systems, Document Management Systems or Matter/Time Management Systems
- Adopting digital processes to streamline workflows and increase efficiency
- Addressing tech skills gaps and ensuring staff are trained to use new technologies effectively
- Managing and organising vast amounts of data, including confidential and sensitive information
- Ensuring data security and protection against cyber threats
Implementing, integrating and upgrading new and existing technologies such as Practice Management Systems, Document Management Systems or Matter/Time Management Systems
Completing any large-scale implementation or upgrade of new system applications can be significantly challenging to your firm for multiple reasons.
High volumes of confidential data must remain accessible during platform migrations and updates. The volume and complexity of this data can make it difficult to integrate new systems with existing ones. In tandem with this, the ability for fee earners to continue to use legacy systems whilst new ones are implemented is critically important to ensure the operational effectiveness of your firm – this can lead to periods of dual running.
The age of your existing systems is another potential challenge. Legal firms often have invested heavily in legacy systems that were not designed for the scale and complexity of today’s data landscape, leading to slow performance and decreased productivity. Integrating or updating systems on top of these legacy ones can require significant technical expertise, time, and cost. Many applications also reach ‘end of life’ in terms of support from vendors, leading to significant upgrades being required.
Law firms typically have significant levels of application customisations, complex integrations to downstream applications and multiple geographical considerations, all of which need to be considered when planning an application change.
Infosys reported that 88% of business systems are legacy, with 52% being business critical. In a press release of their research, Infosys stressed that:
“Many of the legacy systems lack adequate support, making them vulnerable and presenting security risks. Companies should adopt a holistic view of the enterprise estate, increase automation, and align business and IT on modernization decisions.”
Staff may also require extensive training to use new systems effectively, which can stretch internal teams who already lack resources. You may lack the internal bandwidth to provide this training, especially if your end users vastly outnumber your tech team.
Solution: Download our free whitepaper
We often engage with organisations that operate on outdated and vulnerable systems that fail to fully support their staff. To understand the reasons behind this trend and identify potential solutions, we’ve created our free essential guide to updating your Document Management System. Download the whitepaper now to learn directly from our expert consultants, including the challenges you may face when updating a DMS.
Adopting digital processes to streamline workflows and increase efficiency
Legal workflows are seldom simple, often requiring multiple steps, approvals, and interactions between various parties. Streamlining these processes through digital transformation can vastly improve your firm’s efficiency but also pose a significant challenge. However, workflows across different practice areas can be difficult to standardise and achieve a consistent approach to digitalisation.
On top of ensuring your new processes comply with legal and regulatory requirements, such as data protection laws and e-discovery rules, your workflows often require significant communication between parties, including clients, counsel, judges, and other stakeholders. If done incorrectly, implementing digital processes can create additional challenges for communication, such as ensuring that all parties have access to the necessary information and can communicate effectively.
Solution: Explore automation solutions
Automation holds the potential to digitally transform your work processes and revolutionise how your firm works. In particular, robotic process automation (RPA) can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up your staff to focus on more important work.
RPA can help improve your firm’s efficiency and productivity by automating tasks such as:
- Document processing and management: Automating the processing and management of legal documents, such as contracts, invoices, and legal briefs.
- Data entry and management: Automating data entry and management tasks, such as updating client databases, extracting data from documents, and populating forms.
- Compliance and reporting: Automating compliance and reporting tasks, such as monitoring legal regulations, generating reports, and tracking key metrics.
- Workflow management: Automating workflow management tasks, such as routing legal documents, tracking tasks, and managing approvals.
- Customer service: Automating customer service tasks, such as answering frequently asked questions, managing client requests, and providing status updates.
But before RPA can be implemented, you must ask yourself important questions:
- Can your processes be significantly optimised through minor process or application changes?
- Are your business processes fully understood and documented by all teams that are involved?
- What tools can be used to automate your processes?
- What is the existing perception of automation within your organisation?
- Can your most complex, convoluted processes be effectively automated?
Effectively utilising RPA means identifying and evaluating use cases, implementing the technology, and integrating it with your existing systems and processes. As automation is landed in your organisation, you need a clear way to expand the technology throughout the many processes ripe for improvement, while maximising your return on investment.
Addressing the skills gap and ensuring staff are trained to use new technologies effectively
By now you’ve seen how technology can significantly transform important areas of your firm. However, none of this potential can be fulfilled if you do not have the tech talent to deliver these improvements today and support you into the future.
The importance of technology in the legal world is only increasing. It is used to streamline a lawyer’s workflow by automating mundane administrative tasks, as well as providing tools to research and access legal documents quickly and efficiently. Technology can also be used to perform sophisticated analysis of large datasets or allow lawyers to better collaborate with their colleagues. As such, tech has allowed lawyers to make more informed decisions, save time and money, and provide better service to their clients.
Unfortunately, recruiting tech talent has never been harder. Multiple sources estimate that hiring a software engineer can take from eight weeks to four months, depending on the skill set and technical requirements needed. This already protracted recruitment timeline is extended by applicant screening and background checks, before waiting on successful applicants to work their notice periods.
The technology landscape is rapidly changing, and legal firms must stay ahead of new and emerging technologies to remain competitive. Clients expect legal firms to leverage technology to improve their services, and firms that do not do so may be perceived as outdated or less competitive than their peers. Firms that are slow to adopt new technologies may also fall behind their competitors, who are leveraging new tools and processes to improve their services and reduce costs.
Without a flexible, scalable, and reliable way to recruit for your internal tech teams, your organisation may miss out on opportunities to improve workflows, reduce costs, and improve client service.
Solution: Utilise the Recruit-Train-Deploy model
Recruit-Train-Deploy (sometimes called Hire-Train-Deploy) is a talent model designed to help you fill your IT vacancies with qualified technologists who fit your business. It’s the model we use in our Ten10 Academy, helping our clients bring more projects to life and permanently grow their tech teams.
It’s a three-step process:
- We recruit promising talent based on a rigorous selection process
- We give them expert training in specific technical pathways
- We deploy them to work on your projects and in your organisation
When you utilise talent through the Recruit-Train-Deploy model, you can grow your IT team much faster than through traditional recruitment. We recommend candidates based on your organisational culture and you make your selections without having to wait on lengthy notice periods.
Read more about Ten10’s Recruit-Train-Deploy model and how it can accelerate your tech recruitment so you can get the talent you need – the right fit, right now.
Managing and organising vast amounts of data, including confidential and sensitive information
From case files to contracts and emails, legal firms handle incredibly large amounts of data every day.. The complexity of this data can make it difficult to store, search, and analyse effectively, which in turn limits your firm’s productivity. Naturally, ensuring the security and confidentiality of this data is essential to protect your clients and maintain your firm’s integrity.
Data privacy laws and ethical guidelines dictate how data must be managed and stored, making compliance and confidentiality as important as functionality when it comes to your tech systems. But advanced technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can help you manage and organise your data.
Data is a critical asset to any legal firm, and without proper management and organisation, staff may not have access to the information they need to make informed decisions.
Solution: Data testing
Managing vast amounts of data can be time-consuming and difficult. If you’re struggling with data management, consider how digital transformation can streamline and simplify your firm’s data processes. For example, automated systems can help to quickly organise, back up, and sort through large amounts of data in a fraction of the time it would take manually. You may benefit from tools such as cloud storage which makes documents accessible from anywhere.
Data testing is incredibly important for legal firms, as it allows them to ensure their data is accurate, secure and compliant with any applicable regulations. By conducting data testing regularly, firms can check for errors or inconsistencies that may lead to costly mistakes down the road, and identify potential security risks which need to be addressed to protect confidential client information.
Explore our Data Testing solutions and work with our industry-leading consultants. We understand the importance of risk mitigation through appropriate test approaches, tools and coverage, ensuring data integrity and data quality. We have a proven track record of identifying and optimising appropriate data test processes and tools which, when coupled with our highly-skilled Consultants, will give you the confidence to change, upgrade or implement your data solutions.
Ensuring data security and protection against cyber threats
You handle a significant amount of confidential and sensitive information, such as client communications, financial records, and personal information. The loss or theft of this information can have serious legal and financial consequences for both your firm and your clients. That means having robust cyber security has never been more important.
Legal firms are also attractive targets for cybercriminals, as they hold valuable data that can be used for financial gain. Organisations must be vigilant in protecting against threats such as hacking, phishing, malware, and ransomware. The threat landscape is constantly evolving, and your organisation must stay ahead of new and emerging threats to ensure the security of your data.
However, legal firms often have complex IT infrastructures that include a mix of cloud services, on-premises systems, and mobile devices. Ensuring the security of these systems can be challenging, as threats can arise from multiple sources and attack vectors.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority reviewed the cyber security of 40 UK law firms and found:
- 25% were not encrypting their laptops
- Half had allowed unrestricted use of external data storage media
- 75% reported having been the victims of a cyber attack
And for 23 of those that were directly targeted, over £4 million of client money was stolen.
Staying protected and addressing security concerns is of paramount importance but how should you approach improving your capabilities? You could outsource your security to a specialist firm, but you trade control of your systems for their expertise. You could work with contractors to maintain more control, but in exchange, you rack up costly overheads. These workers may work closely with you, but they aren’t part of your organisation. Once your contract with them is finished, they’ll leave and take the intimate knowledge of your systems with them, which immediately creates a security risk.
The only way to ensure long-term success is to grow an internal tech team that can improve and manage your cyber security today and into the future.
Solution: Bolster your cyber security talent
Legal firms do not have enough tech talent to make the most of today’s opportunities. Tech is developing so quickly that it’s hard to ensure your teams evolve and adopt the skills they need.
The Ten10 Academy solves that problem – we recruit, train and deploy technologists, providing you with candidates who are the right fit, right now.
Our Cyber Security Academy Consultants can help you detect vulnerabilities in your system and recommend the best course of action. They are trained in the best strategies for monitoring, detecting and recovering from a cyber attack as well as having practical, hands-on experience in threat modelling and exploitation, web application security vulnerability scanning and system hardening.
Read more about the Ten10 Academy and see how our Academy Consultants can flexibly scale your capabilities and grow an internal team built for sustained success.