Legal Technology: Where Should Your Dollars Go?
Many lawyers, especially solo practitioners and those in small firms, try to do everything themselves. That mentality can lead to costly inefficiencies. As we head into the 2020s, what are the tech solutions that lawyers should consider? We asked a handful of tech leaders who know the problems law practices are trying to solve with their scarce marketing and practice management resources.
No matter their specific answers, they all agreed on one basic theme: Lawyers should start by examining what they truly need that will make their practices more efficient.
“You need to figure out what is the best use of your time and what part of the work you enjoy the most,” says Kristin Tyler. Kristin is an attorney and owner of Lawclerk, an online legal services marketplace that connects attorneys with freelance lawyers. Find qualified professionals to help with any written work such as memos, motions, agreements, and discovery.
“Then you can figure out what the other things are that are taking up a lot of your time that you could outsource and delegate to others. Thanks to technology, there are a lot of flexible, affordable ways to get help with those things that you don't want to spend your time doing.”
What’s the Problem? Examine Your Processes… Then Search for a Solution
To understand which options are right for your needs, start by examining your processes, suggests Dan Lear, attorney and technology consultant. “Try mapping out the process that you're trying to automate or fix with technology,” he recommends.
Lear says he has seen firms invest in tech solutions that are more than they need or don’t remedy true pain points. “Maybe the problem isn't one that technology needs to solve—maybe it's a process improvement in your law firm.”
Think about how your clients come to you. What steps do they have to take on your website to contact you or find certain information? Pay attention to client reviews online and in-person comments. Do any themes emerge? Have you found a bottleneck or problem area? Are clients happy to visit your office and interact (in-person, on the phone, by email, etc.) with your staff?
Do Your Homework to Find the Right Product
Once you have found the area that most needs help, you can start researching tech products on the market. If you wish you had a paralegal but can’t afford another full-time employee, you may be able to turn to products that are starting to change the way firms research cases. Other products analyze your intake data—case facts, the judge assigned to the case and more—and apply an algorithm to predict outcomes.
If you’re just dipping your toes into the legal tech waters, Matt Spiegel recommends starting with practice management software. “It’s the tool you're going to use to manage your cases, do your billing, do your invoicing—so it makes sense to start there,” Siegel advises. “Start with the foundation, which will get you familiar with the tech. And then you can figure out what you can add to that.”
Matt is an attorney and founder of Lawmatics, a client intake and marketing automation platform.
Crowdsource the Right Solution
If this still all leaves you drowning in technology options and feeling overwhelmed, leverage your network. Ask your partners or employees about specific challenges or inefficiencies in your practice to pinpoint potential solutions. Have them try out demos, which are widely available, and give you feedback on what makes sense for your business.
“Almost all the companies with these tools that are coming out now are going to explain what they do really well, and then they're going to give you free access,” says Thomas Hamilton of Ross Intelligence, an AI legal research company. “So take advantage of that—do your homework first—and take advantage of the free trial.”
If you are a solo practitioner or the only lawyer in your firm in your area of practice, ask other attorneys in your field what software or services they use. How have they solved for the same problems your firm is experiencing? Good solutions for a family law practice may be different than those for a criminal defense lawyer.
No one can fully predict what’s ahead for legal tech in the decade ahead. But based on technology that’s already available, from AI tools that draft briefs for you to workhorse practice management software, law offices of the future are sure to be integrating more technology into their processes than ever before.
Are you interested in more legal technology solutions? Request a demo of Captorra, case intake, and lead conversion software.