The legal sector has needed a digital shake-up for decades, but it’s taken a global pandemic and several national lockdowns to accelerate the plans.
Law firms have been steadily increasing their adoption of legal software solutions over recent years, hoping it could provide them an advantage over their competitors. But in 2021, being slow to adopt technology means you will struggle to survive long-term.
The lockdown has highlighted opportunities for change in the legal sector. One of the key focuses for lawyers is hybrid-working. The biggest shift in working practices through 2020 has been working from home and many individuals, across every sector, have seen the benefits of flexible and homeworking. But the benefits aren’t just for employees, a survey by Talk Talk showed 58% of workers in UK said they’d been more productive as a result of working from home.
The modern employee
Lawyers are looking to maintain this level of flexibility as it provides a better work-life balance. This means firms need to include hybrid-working solutions into their strategy. Firms who are reluctant to digitally transform their practice create a culture that no longer suits the needs of the modern employee. The dangers of rushing back to the office and neglecting the focus on embracing technology will affect a firm’s chances of future success.
Every role within a firm, including top-level management, have shifted their priority focus. For many, hybrid-working has become a key consideration in employment decisions. A survey by Acritas reported 77% of senior lawyers wanted to retain elements of remote working and 22% said they are likely to leave if their firm can’t accommodate. This means firms who are not prepared for change could lose talent, not to mention clients.
A successful hybrid-working approach
For a hybrid approach to succeed, firms need to implement technology that will enable their practice to operate no matter where they are. But implementing the technology alone will not provide you with the foundation you need for successful hybrid workforce. Law firms need to focus on three-key things in their hybrid working strategy: training for change, communication, and security.
Training and change management
For any technology solution to be successful, users need to feel confident in how to use it. It’s crucial that employees have the right training and skills in place to not only use the basics but fully utilise the software available to them. Most importantly, employees need to know where they can turn when things aren’t working. This will avoid decreases in productivity, negative effects on the clients and unnecessary frustration.
Communication internally and externally to clients and third parties can be challenging when done virtually. It’s important for employees to still feel part of the firm as a collective, even when working from home and this is especially important for new or junior lawyers joining the team. Similarly, without the physical location of your office to rely on for client interactions, there needs to be digital communication and collaboration tools that make attracting new clients and building lasting relationships even easier and more effective than face-to-face interaction. Implementing the right software solutions will enable firms to offer digital platforms and portals that allow quick, digital, and cost-effective service from initial client enquiry and instruction through validation and compliance checks to the provision of legal services in all areas of the law.
Relying on the physical in a hybrid working world is no longer possible. Client files, IT hardware and communication tools need to be rethought and adapted for optimal performance and security. When looking to implement a new IT strategy it’s important to consider data and cyber security and compliance rules to ensure staff and client data is secure.
The future workplace
Don’t be left behind in a world that is embracing technology. Successful law firms looking to stay competitive in 2021 need to consider the effectiveness of their IT and software solutions. Practice and case management software systems like Osprey Approach give you the flexibility and digital tools you need to manage your clients and matters from anywhere at any time.
Centralising your data and documents within Osprey removes your reliance on physical files and office space and the secure web portal is the client-focused collaboration tool you need to manage clients without limitation. Osprey also operates and integrates seamlessly with accepted gold standard cloud focused software solutions such as Microsoft 365 and DocuSign to underline your firms’ hybrid working strategy.
Law firms offering a hybrid working environment will ultimately be able to attract and retain top talent, improve services for clients and thrive with improved efficiencies and productivity.
Looking to implement a hybrid-working strategy?
We can provide software solutions and expert advice on future-proofing your firm in 2021.