A Legalweek highlight was the Rapid Fire on New Technology Driving Superior Legal Services session moderated by Rawia Ashraf, vice president, Product – Legal Practice and Productivity, Thomson Reuters. She was joined by panelists Katie Stone, director of Practice Management, Berry Appleman & Leiden; Kate Orr, global head of Practice Innovation, Herrington & Sutcliffe; and Ronak Ray, co-founder and executive managing director, modCounsel.

They discussed the tools and technologies law firms are using to improve legal services and differentiate their firms amid the rapid evolution of clients’ needs and expectations in a post-pandemic world and uncertain economy. Legal Current shares a recap of their session.

What clients are looking for

Discussing what clients are looking for, the panelists emphasized that clients expect firms to leverage technology to increase efficiency and justify costs with data and a clear ROI.

Orr acknowledged changes in how lawyers interact with clients and deliver legal advice, noting clients today expect information to be shared in heat maps and dashboards rather than memos. She added that clients are part of the feedback loop, and they expect the firm is engaged in meaningful innovation, agility, and a mentality of constant improvement.

Orr said that clients are resource-constrained, but they want to leverage technology to “get out of the weeds” and demonstrate progress with meaningful data.

Stone agreed that clients want real-time data that is accurate and visible via dashboards and other visualizations. Ray added that the more lawyers help clients with getting value via the technology, the faster they can go on to see ROI.

Making decisions on tech adoption

Panelists pointed out when it comes to tech adoption, firms want solutions that provide robust scoping, roadmaps, and clear ROI prior to implementation – whether the technology is built internally or through a software buy.

Orr noted firms need to pilot new technology to ensure it is a proper fit. She said there is no immediate “yes” anymore to any technology, proper vetting is essential. She added that firms want tools to help them consolidate information, and many firms hire data scientists and data architects to build tools in-house rather than buy tools.

Stone recommended firms decide on new technology with a practice group, using a three-, five- and seven-year tech roadmap to guide their decision.

Ray said it’s helpful to involve practice leaders, who are more upfront with their problems and what they need, in the decision-making process. He added that clients want insight into the maturity of their processes and whether they are equipped to be automated, otherwise they can’t justify the cost internally.

Proving the value of tech

Panelists declared that 2023 is the year of adoption. They discussed the importance of attacking adoption efforts on all fronts by involving day-to-day users in conjunction with C-suite leaders to focus on the purpose, execution, and payoff of adoption.

Orr stressed the importance of communicating internally about how technology frees up individuals to “operate at the top of your license” and get back to your real job – performing complex legal analysis. She said her firm evaluates technology adoption and success via a post-mortem with the team after a matter has concluded and tracking what was improved by technology.

Stone noted it’s key to effectively communicate how technology will yield more, not less, for more people internally. She recommended using performance dashboards to demonstrate how the technology is working and to hold regular check-ins.

Ray explained the need to focus on the value proposition, noting people expect to see a day-to-day value proposition rather than looking three to six months out. He emphasized the value of steward leadership to assist and expedite tech adoption efforts, as well as the need to pay attention to both positive and negative feedback in evaluating success.

Thanks to everyone who joined the Rapid Fire on New Technology Driving Superior Legal Services session!

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