Embracing New Technology and Implementing Legal Tech in Your Law Firm
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It’s one thing to purchase technology for your law office. Embracing, adopting, and using new legal technology is a separate task altogether. Add resistance from non-techie attorneys and skeptical paralegals on top of that and you’ve got a pretty daunting task.
But this is not an untrodden path. Many law offices before you have implemented new technology. And technology will continue to be embraced in many law offices to come. It’s a bit like eating an elephant. First, you have to cut it into bite-sized pieces. Then, you have to convince others that they want to eat the elephant. Finally, you’ll put someone in charge of determining when elephants need to be eaten in the future.
Many law offices think of technology adoption as a one-off, easily implemented, random task. It’s expected to be something done outside of normal office operations—something that can be thrown into the mix willy-nilly. It’s no wonder that it takes so long and never seems to get done.
If you want your office to embrace new technology, don’t treat it as an afterthought.
Any legal tech adoption should be treated as a project and managed as such. It is important and must be planned for.
This doesn’t mean that you have to stop everything you are doing for 6 months while your tech is being implemented. It does, however, mean that you need project deadlines, tasks, and workflows. You need a person assigned to manage the process—not to do it all, but to make sure it stays on track. Essentially, you need to make a plan.
You will want your new legal technology to be implemented immediately, but you’ll need to break your project into manageable pieces. Here is where incremental iteration comes into play (and that elephant). By taking on small sections of the project individually and in succession, you’ll not only see results faster, but you’ll foster more buy-in from your team members.
How do you get your office to use this new legal technology? We all know attorneys who are resistant to technology or paralegals who are skeptical of new processes. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But a process doesn’t have to be broken to be inefficient and under-optimized.
Yet, fear of the unknown holds many of our offices back.
Buy-in can start with one person and can come from that person’s sense of ownership of the project. Choose a project champion to help generate buy-in from others in your office down the line. Bring them into the fold as early as possible, get their input, and listen to their concerns.
Buy-in also comes from a sense of benefit. The earlier you can show your team the benefits of new legal technology, the more easily they will embrace it. This is where incremental iteration is again a helpful solution.
Ultimately, you may not get buy-in from every member of your team. In these cases, you’ll want to consult your firm’s values to help lead your next steps. If one of your team’s values is to be tech-forward, an attorney who is resistant to technology may not be right for your team.
Once your attorneys, paralegals, and other team members embrace the new technology, now is the time to maintain momentum. It is far too common for an office to adopt new technology and then sit on their laurels until they are once again way behind the times.
At this juncture, it is good to appoint a tech leader. This is someone whose job it is to stay abreast of the updates to your current technology and to keep track of what future needs may be. Although not necessary, it is often quite easy to appoint one of your project champions mentioned above.
In Chapter 6, we’ll discuss this person’s responsibilities and how they can help propel you into the legal tech stack of your dreams.