Law firms are feeling the effects of the fast-paced legal tech industry now more than ever. The demand to stay relevant is ever increasing and having the most up-to-date systems is becoming more of a necessity rather than a luxury. Lawyers in particular are feeling the effects of the rapid changes, as many are looking to improve their own technology expertise in order to keep up with current trends. In addition, users’ opinions and attitudes are becoming increasingly vital when it comes to firms making changes, such as moving to the cloud. User behavior and acceptance of change are some of the top concerns for the legal tech industry, according to the International Legal Technology Association’s (ILTA) 2018 Technology Survey. As the need to move systems and make changes grows, it is even more important to understand what is trending throughout the industry as a whole.
As most of our readers are aware, ILTA surveys hundreds of firms each year to produce their annual technology survey for the purpose of benchmarking organizations’ technology implementations and procedures. This includes a wide range of information, from Operating Systems, to Trends and Annoyances,to an executive summary of how technology is being utilized throughout the industry. In focusing on a few aspects of the survey, it is clear that there is now a push to prioritize understanding user’s perspectives and ensuring that firms are as up-to-date as possible on their software and systems. We wanted to provide our insights as well as our predictions on what 2019 will look like for firms and their users.
An important consideration in legal tech is how changes will affect the users. The top tech issue among firms in 2018 was users’ acceptance of change. In addition, one of the main security challenges noted was user attitudes and behaviors. While moving to a new system, specifically the cloud, requires a lot of effort from an IT standpoint, taking the ways in which users are interacting with the system into consideration can have a major effect on the success of the implementation. For example, user mobility provided by a cloud DMS may be in reality restricted by client security requirements. Moving into the new year, it seems there will be a greater effort from firms to incorporate change management programs to help establish buy in from their users and foster greater adoption rates.
Another concern noted for lawyers is the need for increased knowledge in technology. It used to be that they could focus on the specifics of their jobs without the added pressure of staying current with tech trends. Now with the rate at which changes are happening, lawyers almost have to have a working knowledge of all things legal tech, according to Todd Corham, CIO at Saul Ewing Arnstein and Lehr LLP. This further supports the thought that technology is much more of a necessity in law than it has been in the past.
Besides the growing demand for legal tech expertise, many of the firms surveyed stated they found themselves feeling left behind in the industry. Because the need to adopt new systems and software is becoming more pressing, many practices are finding themselves in rush to update. In fact, several of Microsoft’s products, including the Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, will reach the end-of-life point in 2020. This, in addition to the rapid uptake of the cloud, has firms feeling the pressure to stay as current as possible, further increasing the importance of tech knowledge and user behaviors.
Our thoughts after reflecting on the 2018 ILTA survey are not surprising; 2019 will be a year of accelerated change in legal tech. We’re already experiencing an uptick in migration projects as more and more firms are making the move to cloud-based systems. This trend is only going to increase as more systems become outdated and new, more agile and innovative solutions are introduced. The next few years are going to be a major technology push for firms and their users, and maximizing user adoption with training and support strategies will only grow in importance.