A recent survey by the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has found that almost half of junior lawyers are oblivious as to the benefits of lawtech – or completely unaware of its existence. As someone heavily involved in the sector – and therefore aware of how critical it is to success – this set alarm bells ringing.
These junior lawyers may someday become partners and may even go on to run their own practices. At that point in their careers, when strategic thinking will become a key element of what they do, technology will play an ever increasing role not only in helping them understand what is possible but also how they go about achieving it. At that point anything less than a full understanding of lawtech may have serious consequences. The good news is that it’s not too late.
When I left school, many years ago now, I opted out of IT as part of my further studies. It was a move I was soon to regret: the first role I landed was with a law firm, where the department head tasked me with helping to set up a new case management system. His view was that as I was the youngest there, I was bound to understand it all.
I threw myself into the challenge, which turned out to be a good move, as it eventually led to my career in legal technology. Now, I spend a good deal of my time exploring new tech opportunities both for our own business and more pertinently for our client law firms. Whilst law may have deep routes, with centuries old cases still being quoted, the tech that is available for law firms evolves alongside the great strides made in technology generally.
The JLD research also highlighted that this lack of understanding may come from an absence of education and training. While 61% of respondents claimed to have received “little or no information/training on lawtech” whilst on the Legal Practice Course (LPC), just 2% said they were given all the information and training they needed from their law school.
With ever increasing compliance and regulation to deal with, a lack of understanding of lawtech is simply not an option. It has the potential to revolutionise the way we work and therefore needs to be understood from graduate level upwards, so that lawyers can benefit from increased productivity, enhanced and accurately billed hours, and happier clients. It’s true to say that it is an increasing trend for clients to expect more from their lawyers in terms of customer care and ready access to information, and not just the provision of core legal services.
Almost all strategies, from business development to business continuity, from marketing to customer retention, will be heavily reliant on technology. From short term to long term aims technology will be at the heart – and may even be the driving force behind – our goals. A failure to understand and embrace technology is not an option.
Ultimately, those lawyers who embrace lawtech will achieve a better and more manageable work/life balance and those firms that embrace technology will grow and succeed. Surely that’s a good thing?
Craig Matthews is the CEO of Pracctice Ltd and Vice-Chair of the LSSA