Running a law firm can be a daunting prospect. Faced with rising levels of regulation, competition and changing customer expectations, legal practitioners are being pushed to adopt the new technologies that can meet these challenges head on and open up new opportunities.
A report published by The Law Society Insights Community found that although 71 per cent of responding law firms agreed technical innovation was critical to the growth of their firm, many lacked the funding, confidence or awareness of where to begin. Although more than 50 per cent of firms said they were more likely to take a ‘wait and see what happens’ approach, the pace of adoption is starting to move faster.
It’s not surprising that many of the firms who have already invested in technical innovation are relying on Cloud solutions to give their firms the agility they need to compete and thrive.
Solutions for a competitive and changing world
Increasingly, fee earners cannot work efficiently if they are tied to a desk or a single device. Working from home, in the office or travelling between locations, lawyers are often part of widely dispersed project teams that face increasing customer demand for quick responses. To succeed, these teams demand reliable access to systems that allow them to hit key deadlines seamlessly.
We are also seeing the millennial generation gradually moving into more powerful roles in the workforce. They understand they’re expected to work hard - but they expect technology that works for them. Meeting this demand may be crucial to successfully building talent pipelines. It’s a future-proof business model that allows people to work as efficiently and flexibly as they want – while the firm, and its’ clients, benefit too.
Many firms are still spending significant amounts on internal IT systems and infrastructure. Cloud technology provides firms with the on-going benefit of access to the latest software versions and upgrades without the capital expenditure required for servers, maintenance or costly, rarely used backup and recovery hardware. This cost flexibility gives even the smallest of firms a competitive edge. It allows them to compete on speed, accuracy and price without the need to hire a large team of support staff.
Making a secure choice
Security and compliance concerns make some firms reluctant to move to Cloud technology. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s IT Security Report states that ‘with resources in the Cloud rather than on a specific device, the risk of data loss from system failure is reduced. It can also help in dealing with some cybercrime threats, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.’
You can protect your data by ensuring you choose an experienced, trusted cloud provider, with a strong security record and robust compliance certifications in place. Equally important is the promotion of a culture of data security throughout your organisation.
Illustrating the measureable benefits for law firms
One of the leading benefits of Cloud technologies is the lack of requirement for physical hardware or software. This allows a quick implementation process with very little disruption, a factor that is advantageous to busy lawyers. Mobility has also been a huge driver for change and Cloud dictation, which has been widely adopted by legal firms, is a very good illustration of this.
Dictation is a process that almost all legal professionals use, but traditional systems don’t deliver the flexibility and mobility that modern fee earners need. When using a desktop application, with a standard recording device, you have to wait until you’re in the office to start creating dictations. By incorporating the power and convenience of web-enabled devices, lawyers can work faster and with more agility. It’s much more efficient to dictate on a phone, send a document for transcription while on the move, and to arrive at another appointment knowing the dictation can be completed and returned before the end of the current meeting.
Clearly this will have an impact on the workload of administrative support staff, but the flexibility of Cloud-based dictation also enables administrative managers to better plan dictation workflow. They can prioritise urgent work, and route dictations across departments or locations to meet operational requirements.
Digital technology can also help reduce fee earner reliance on internal support staff by easily connecting Cloud dictation to outsourced transcription services. This means law firms can complete documents quickly with fewer typists, and without having to hire additional secretaries or temps to cover periods of absence. If backlogs appear, lawyers can simply redirect their dictations to a trusted, professional legal typing service whenever they require the additional resource. The external transcribers use the same system as internal staff, and pay-as-you-go flexibility means costs are completely transparent.
By offering mobility, flexibility, greater efficiency and cost savings, dictation is a very good example of how Cloud technologies can help law firms work faster and smarter and remain buoyant in today’s changing legal landscape.