How should law firms manage digital transformation?

The pandemic has greatly expedited legal technology adoption as we all adjusted to a new norm. However, there is still confusion about how digital transformation should be applied in the legal sector.

By Bronwyn Townsend, Senior Marketing Manager, InfoTrack

In June 2020, The Financial Times reported that the COVID-19 crisis was accelerating the uptake of legal technology within law firms.

A report from HSBC and Briefing in October 2020 found 77% of firms were focused on investing in agile working tools, with 56% concentrating on process automation. Investing in these services works to bridge the gap of remote working and streamlining processes, however it still doesn’t foster a completely digital conveyancing process.

Is going paperless really digital?

A significant number of law firms have switched to a paperless model. However, the scope of ‘paperless’ among individual firms varies. Email and PDFs are commonly used to communicate with clients and other parties within a conveyancing transaction. This rarely entirely removes paper from the process.

Without digital forms or portals, there is still a burden on clients to print, complete and return documents via post. This process is wrought with complications; postal delays, absence of printers in the modern-day home, and the risk of incomplete documentation. Paper also increases the opportunity of fraud, with digital ID verification offering greater security.

Even when correspondence is entirely managed via email, conveyancing departments still must save documents before uploading to their case management system. The lack of centralised data creates a disparate process that can make managing compliance difficult, not to mention slow down internal processes.

Firms want and need technology, so what’s stopping them?

The appetite for innovative technology designed to streamline processes is evident. Despite increased adoption over the last year, there are still gaps. Thomson Reuters Tech and the Law 2020 report found less than half of law firm employees believe their organisations, systems and processes are either efficient (27%) or can handle an increase in workload (38%).

Firms are facing barriers preventing them from becoming completely digital. The same report identified 30% of firms find identifying which technology solutions they need to be one of the greatest barriers. Meanwhile, 42% noted budget restraints as an inhibitor for organisations’ willingness to approve investment.

Long understood and adopted methods including email and PDF have been embraced. Yet, the knowledge gap between available solutions on the market offered by legal technology providers and which systems are the right fit is delaying digital transformation for a large section of the industry.

Wolters Kluwer The 2020 Future Ready Lawyer: Performance Drivers Survey found eSignature solutions are top priority for 63% of firms. Only 34% were focused on workflow management and process automation tools, however. This should be priority for law firms. Enabling technology to do the heavy lifting with automation rewards users with more time to manage increased caseloads and better service their clients.

An entirely digital conveyancing process benefits firms by enabling scalable growth, excellent client engagement and reducing burnout at a time when the industry is feeling the strain of record transaction volumes. It's obvious that law firms have recognised the need to innovate and expand their use of technology, what is less obvious is exactly what that technology looks like. So, how are you managing digital transformation?


Posted on 12.05.21