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EXCLUSIVE: Tech-savvy lawyers are key to law firms’ survival

But persuading lawyers to use new systems is the biggest IT challenge of 2015, major research finds

4 February 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

The most successful law firms of the future will have lawyers who embrace new technologies, Managing Partner's comprehensive market research has found.

Almost all respondents agreed that technology will change how law firms operate in the next three to five years.

The key to success will be "how lawyers engage with the effective application of technology," as the head of IT at an international law firm noted.

Added the managing partner of a mid-sized Italian law firm: "Technology will definitively change the way to operate a legal firm. This will have a big impact on internal processes, creating efficiencies and decreasing costs, and on inventing new tools to collaborate more efficiently with clients."

Managing Partner's second annual legal technology survey was conducted in December 2014 and received 144 responses. Respondents were almost evenly split between local, regional, national and international firms and two thirds were based in the UK.

More than half (56 per cent) of respondents said that technology will have a high impact on law firms in the next three to five years, while a further 41 per cent said it will likely have a moderate impact.

Technology will have the highest impact in firms that are "alive to the need to invest in and adopt technology," remarked the managing partner of a regional UK law firm.

In the coming year, technology is expected to be a key driver of law firms' growth. However, concerns were raised as to whether partners are fully prepared to embrace its potential.

"I still think there is a lot of doubt among the investing partners that technology is a major player in contemporary and future service provision. The 'owners as employees' model of the traditional partnership is a significant handicap to significant investment," commented the head of KM at a regional UK law firm.

"Technology is going to impact on legal services like never before, and failure to at least keep pace with the average investment is going to be more costly than any savings from cautious or limited investment."

Persuading lawyers to use the new systems acquired has been highlighted as the biggest challenge facing IT departments in the coming year. Close behind is the challenge of training users on how to use the new systems.

Another challenge facing law firms is the drive towards greater efficiency in the delivery of legal services. This trend is expected to have the greatest impact on law firms' IT teams in the coming year.

The research findings will be published in the March 2015 issue of Managing Partner and online. Subscribe here to access the full report.




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