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Saj Ali

Senior Client Consultant, Pinsent Masons Vario

Quotation Marks
Adoption and successful adoption are two very different things

The success of LegalTech depends on training

The success of LegalTech depends on training


Saj Ali discusses the importance of growing lawyers' competence and confidence in using LegalTech


As the use of advanced technology in the legal sector has grown, so has the trope of a ‘robot lawyer.’ But as time goes on, it’s become clear that our colleagues and friends in the legal profession are likely to remain human, rather than a sum of electronic parts - at least for the time being.

This is because the majority of LegalTech software available has been designed to aid lawyers and create efficiencies, rather than replace them. Which is certainly reassuring. Promising faster returns and greater value for lawyers and their clients, a whole of host of products can be utilised by law firms to enhance services and maintain their competitive edge. Last year, the global LegalTech market was valued at US$28bn and in the UK, access to the latest technology is no longer limited to the Top 50 law firms. More providers, government and private equity investment, as well as competitive pricing in the UK has meant Legal Tech products are now being adopted by a variety of firms - from global giants to national leaders and specialist boutiques.

That being said, adoption and successful adoption are two very different things. Not every LegalTech product is easy to use, and I frequently see LegalTech solutions failing to solve the issues, and improve the processes it was designed to, because of limited capabilities, knowledge and awareness of the lawyers involved.

This isn’t a slight against legal professionals. The LegalTech industry is fast developing, and many lawyers will have completed their legal training at a time when this type of technology wasn’t so commonplace, nor essential to get a lawyer’s work.

Therefore, to harness the true potential of LegalTech, a firm should be providing adequate, up-to-date, and accessible training on LegalTech and its products. Without proper education around how new LegalTech products can be helpful, how it can be integrated into their day-to-day, and importantly how lawyers use it, investments in new software will go to waste and a process won’t be improved.

However, it can be hard to know where to start when looking at developing a training programme, and the skills you should be developing in your professionals - especially when the amount of LegalTech products on the market and the technical skills to make them work, are so varied.

Should you be looking for advanced tech skills in new recruits?

It’s a given that law firms, like most office-based jobs, have traditionally required lawyers and their support staff to have the competence to use the Microsoft 365 suite (ie, Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Indeed, it would be difficult for most lawyers to carry out their roles without it, and most lawyers through their training and education have already developed these skills to a good standard.

However, a frequent question that comes up, is whether law firms should be looking for more advanced tech skills in training contract applicants and junior lawyers, now that firms are introducing LegalTech products into their departments.

What is defined as advanced technology skills in lawyers depends on your point of view. But from my position, it could be the experience of using document management systems, building low-code/no-code applications and experience in developing artificial intelligence (AI) functionality using a machine learning platform, as just a handful of examples.

Younger generations in the legal workplace may be more confident than their predecessors in using technology, due to legal education providers including some form of LegalTech training on their curriculum and generally younger generations being ‘digital natives’ and brought up with the internet. Those who trained at the Top 50 firms are also likely to have had some day-to-day experience using LegalTech products.

However, as a majority of LegalTech products that require advanced skills are still relatively new to the market, it’s best to have this as a nice-to-have attribute in your applicants, rather than an essential. What’s more important is to gauge recruits’ enthusiasm for LegalTech and a willingness to learn new skills, that historically have not been expected from a lawyer, in addition to their technical legal skills and, of course, emotional intelligence. This can start building an innovative culture, and help with embedding the training across the rest of your workforce.

How to upskill your legal workforce

So, what training should law firms be providing to their current workforce, as a general guide?

It’s worth considering training in the software areas suggested below. Depending on what platforms you are hoping to integrate soon or are currently using, you may prefer to hold more in-depth training in some areas more than others.

  • Cybersecurity and data protection: Creating training programmes and guidance around the legal implications of using LegalTech products is essential to ensure staff are abiding by the regulations and are not putting clients and the wider firm at risk.
  • Microsoft Office 365 suite (advanced): As mentioned previously, most lawyers will have basic skills in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, it’s worth focusing on the intermediate and advanced skills too. There are many tools and tricks that can be used that can save a lawyer so much time and improve their productivity. For example, Power Automate flows can help automate repetitive tasks. A piece of information updated in one document, can update in other documents simultaneously, rather than manually going through each file. Knowing how to use the Microsoft program Power Automate will help lawyers automate processes or even generate documents on a larger scale. Having an awareness of, and knowing how to automate the modification or creation of important documents - for example standard contracts - will reduce costs for client, due to the shorter time it takes, and provide greater value. The Microsoft suite also has a surprising number of tools available which can be used to build solutions in-house, providing considerable cost savings. At the very least, just raising awareness among lawyers that case management or contract management tools can be built using the suite, is valuable. Specialists such as the legal technology team at Vario can help build it, advise on admin rights and communicate the requirements to the IT team, if necessary.
  • Online collaboration platforms: These cloud-based portals allow lawyers and clients to share documents easily and are useful to collate large files all in one ‘place’ - saving time going through inboxes and unnecessary communication avoided. The portals can also be used to receive instructions from clients, capturing key data and allowing progress and potentially legal fees to be tracked via a dashboard in real-time. You don’t need a tech whiz to build these, they are fairly easy for a lawyer to set up without advanced skills.
  • Low-code/no-code methods: Low-code is the ability to build applications using graphical tools, that require little or no coding. Applications can be built by lawyers to automate low value tasks. Some providers are geared to legal markets, and designed for lawyers to build software themselves, for example, Neota.
  • Chatbots: Chatbots can be used by law firms in various ways. For example, at Pinsent Masons Vario, we created an online contract maturity assessment for clients using a third-party tool called Josef. It’s built using a proprietary model, where a user will fill in a questionnaire regarding how they manage their contracts, and the chatbot will assess how their processes can be improved and provide a downloadable report with a benchmark score. This system can be provided to clients, to assess their contract maturity, as an initial step before considering what help they require and which technology solutions may help. Chatbots can enhance value for clients, and help lawyers get to the heart of a legal issue in a shorter timeframe, with less effort. Lawyers can learn how to configure all the possible routes within a decision tree to ensure the questions and answers are accurate from a legal perspective.  
  • AI: AI has become a buzzword and is seen by some as the solution to streamline most processes. However, AI is unlikely to work ‘out the box,’ and lawyers will need to heavily input into the software - through testing and tweaking - to improve accuracy, and perform the tasks that it is intended for. It’s important for lawyers to understand how it can be used, but also the realities of using it.
  • Cloud computing: Developing a more in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of how cloud computing can be built into the infrastructure of a law firm, reduce operation costs and improve efficiency, can enhance productivity.

That being said, general training in the concepts and functionality of LegalTech platforms is also important, rather than vocational learning about specific applications that you aren’t using, so your training doesn’t quickly become outdated as new products arrive. Understanding what is possible and currently impossible by using LegalTech helps manage innovations, sparking lawyers’ creative thinking on what solutions could realistically be achieved.

And, it’s important to seek out courses, rather than one-off sessions. Although a one-off session or away day can spark initial engagement and improve awareness, it’s unlikely to stick. If you are wanting to integrate LegalTech software in any of the areas below, regular sessions, which include hands-on guidance, check-ups on progress and updates will sustain engagement and knowledge for the long term, as well as cement technology skills. It will also empower lawyers to hone their technology skills off their own backs.

Legal secretaries, paralegals and legal support staff should also be included in this training, so they understand the purpose and functionality of LegalTech products and how it can support their role too. This is especially important given lawyers may need to delegate tasks on these platforms.

It’s worth highlighting there are external training providers that provide free, accessible and in-depth courses on LegalTech, specially designed for lawyers, if budgets are tight. For example, LAWTECHUK provides foundational courses free-of-charge, from data science to distributed ledger technology. For more in-depth training, Harvard University offers CS50L, which is an introduction to computer science for lawyers and legal students. It gives lawyers a base understanding of tech principles. It’s also free and provides ‘a deeper understanding of the legal implications of technological decisions made by clients.’

How to create training programmes

Creating robust training programmes can build an internal culture which supports innovation, and normalises the use of LegalTech to provide a better service for clients. 

As well as hands on, and general awareness training, it’s also worth implementing the following to help law firms sustain learning for the long term:

  • a drop-in ‘desk’ - whether that’s through the provider of the training, the IT team, or a nominated person in-house who can help staff with issues using the software. Poor adoption can also be down to people hitting road blocks while using the technology, and not knowing how to solve it. Therefore, they won’t integrate it within their day-to-day;
  • getting interesting speakers in, or signing up to external talks with influencers in LegalTech on the buzzwords and latest trends, could create interest and enhance engagement;
  • encouraging readership of sites such as Artificial Lawyer, which produces articles and resources on the latest LegalTech innovations in the business of law;
  • adopting change management methodologies to enhance engagement between all staff and the new LegalTech software you are adopting.


Law firms don’t need their lawyers to be experts in LegalTech. What’s important is they are at least of aware of LegalTech products, how they work, their current capabilities and how it can provide value to clients. But growing lawyers’ competence and confidence in using the products that a firm chooses to invest in will mean they are more likely to use the LegalTech, and deliver value to clients in the long term.

Saj Ali is senior client consultant in the Consulting, Process and Technology team at Pinsent Masons Vario