You have a smart phone, but do you have a smart business?

Modern technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data are revolutionising business and streamlining operations in a way which would have been unimaginable a century ago. In recent years, AI has demonstrated its efficient use in legal research, and the use of robotic process automation (RPA) helps automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as contract drafting and document preparation. The legal industry can benefit from big data with its ability to produce excellent predictive analytics. This allows lawyers to make decisions based on wide samples of data to build legal strategies, such as knowing the probability of a particular motion outcome or how much a settlement award could be. This means that the upskilling and reskilling of legal professionals in these new technologies is vital for law firms and other businesses to thrive in an era of revolutionary digital transformation, especially post COVID-19 as remote working has become a new norm.

We all use smart phones. Smart phones have become an integral aspect of our day-to-day lives. Many of us may have been reluctant to get a smart phone when they were first introduced. We may have been blind to the usefulness of a smart phone’s additional features that older mobile phones did not have. However, eventually, everyone had one. Everyone had access to these features and used them every day. We started to see the use in purchasing a smart phone and have never looked back. Now, many of us may even upgrade our smart phones once every couple of years to keep up to date with all the new features. Why do we do this? We may tell ourselves that they make our lives easier; they make things more accessible; they’re more user friendly; they’re faster and more efficient; they make our life easier. And these are all true! Smart phones do this for us, and it is a fantastic thing. However, the legal industry, more so than most other big business industries, is the equivalent to those people who refused to purchase a smart phone when they were on the rise.

There are plenty of “additional features” law firms are missing out on that other industries are already reaping the benefits from. A survey by KPMG demonstrates that digital transformation is a key strategic priority for CEO’s. A McKinsey report illustrates the extreme improvements that digital transformation can bring to a business: data driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers; 6 times more likely to retain customers; and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result. However, not enough UK law firms are investing in these new technologies. Fewer than 50% of law firms in the UK are using automation tools, according to research done by Intapp. Additionally, according to the 2018 Sharplegal Report released by Acritas, 25% of UK legal departments are not using any technology, as compared to 11% in the US. 

UK legal departments have always resisted innovation, and this is more strikingly obvious when we compare the UK to other countries around the globe. Law firms have been focused on the plumbing technology (e.g. computers, accounting, etc.) and so have neglected the technologies that will ease the laborious operations that legal professionals experience and better deliver legal advice to their clients. What we should aim for, as law firms, is to improve the customer experience and streamline operations to the maximum efficiency, enhancing our operations into much simpler and easier systems for legal professionals to use.

We need to upgrade our businesses, occasionally, to fit with ever-evolving client and professional needs. Just as we upgrade our smart phones every couple of years to suit our own needs and make our user-experience easier, we must also upgrade our businesses to suit our needs. The clients using our services, as well as the legal professionals operating our systems, want the same thing we want when we use our smart phone: a user-friendly experience. If you do not adapt to the data revolution, your clients, and perhaps even your employees, will find a different phone that better suits their needs.

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