The adoption of legal tech isn’t as straightforward as ‘build it and they will come’

Jack Shepherd
Legal Practice Lead at iManage
15 July 2022

Implementing new tech requires effort, skill, and foremost for people to care. The foundations of adoption should be based around people and process, in tandem with tech. Only when the foundations are there can the tech be layered on top. Lawyers will never adopt something new unless they can see that the value it offers outweighs the burden of changing behaviours and ways of (not) working in the first place. I discuss ways to get users to overcome that burden in a webinar for UKLTA which you can watch here.

Legal Tech. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

In a recent round-up of the Legal Innovators California event, Richard Tromans is reminded of the well-known Bill Gates quote: ‘We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

When NLP and machine learning tools were first introduced as ways to reduce time spent on process-heavy review tasks there was a lot of skepticism, fear even. Six years later at the same California event these forms of technology were seen as completely normal, and part of the natural industry conversation. These kinds of tools have still not really broken through in legal, but we need to think carefully before underestimate the change they will bring in the longer terms.

When introducing tech, you will often hear the same apprehensive sound bites; “people will never” or “everyone will insist on doing it differently”. You must factor these things into your tech adoption plan. Accept them too willingly and inconsistencies creep in and cause complications. You could try and remove alternative avenues. Or you can get top-down support to dictate things being done in a particular way. Just don’t give up too quickly.

How can we influence adoption?

Look for the areas where legal tech directly affects revenue. At JFK Law, moving document management to iManage Work 10 in the Cloud was a big cost-saving win. With it being routine for cases to take place over a period of years, smarter ways of working created small wins for staff, and those small wins add up to big efficiency gains for the firm.

Until next time, keep celebrating the human component of knowledge, the people and process that ensure tech investments make a difference.

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