So far in our series on ‘Law Firms: 6 Most Common IT Oversights’, we have analysed the misconception among law firms that their smaller size makes them less of a target to hackers and that staff training is an essential weapon in the fight against cyber attack. In Part Three, we are going to take a closer look at the ways law firms can use IT to increase productivity and profits without the need to take on extra fee earners.
PWC’s Law Firms’ Survey 2018 found that, without exception, the Top 10 law firms in the UK identified technology as the key challenge to the legal sector over the next two years. In his introduction to the report, PWC’s Head of Law Firms Advisory Group, David Snell, warns that: “For Top 25 firms, fee earner numbers have, on average, fallen – as firms strive to improve productivity and leverage from efficiency measures and investment in new technologies. … The threat of cyber attack is at a critical level and presents one of the most significant risks to law firms. … Whilst the overriding sentiment is that of resilience through change, law firms need to continue to look to the future, ensuring they continue to adapt to a rapidly changing world.”
Is your company one of the SMEs that sees IT as a cost that needs to be cut or something to embrace because you can see how it will help you grow your business and gain billable hours? In 2018, the Top 50 law firms in the UK implemented technological solutions to help them increase their billable hours. By making use of applications specifically designed to help the legal sector work more efficiently, your firm could increase income without the need to take on new staff.
This is especially important with the growing popularity of fixed fees, which means firms need to work smarter in order to maximise fee earner time and efficiency. By investing in the right kind of applications that enable fee earners to be more productive, companies can reduce the time it takes to finish key tasks. In the 2018 survey, PWC found that more than half of the UK’s top 100 law firms have adopted mobile apps, client collaboration tools and automated/semi-automated document production.
One product that is gaining popularity in law firms is digital dictation. Traditionally, a solicitor or barrister would dictate their notes onto a tape or file which was then passed on to a member of administrative staff who would type it up and send it back for review. Depending on their workload and urgency of other tasks, this process could take hours or even days. Dictation software such as BigHand converts the spoken word into text straight away, speeding up the process, which allows for greater productivity.
Another way technology is speeding up the process is the Cloud. By hosting documents in the Cloud, you can access files and work on them whether you are in the office or working remotely. The Cloud also allows collaborative working, with a number of people being able to work on one document simultaneously, reducing the duplication of work. Before this was possible, multiple users generated multiple copies of the same document, which had to be closely monitored in order to ensure comments and changes were not overlooked.
While SMEs catch up with the ways IT can help them, the Top 10 firms are looking further ahead to utilising new technologies. Indeed, 80% are already piloting AI technology.
If you would like to discuss ways of increasing the number of chargeable hours your fee earners can work, contact us to find out more and book an appointment.
In the next article, we will take a closer look at your IT spend and how your law firm can increase the effectiveness of your IT system without increasing the budget.