Future Proof Your Law Firm With Legal Tech Audits
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Once your law firm has implemented its technology, the job isn’t done. Technology implementation, maintenance, and hygiene require constant motion. Your office should have a system for creating and revisiting a legal tech audit. This periodic assessment details the what, how, and why of your office technology.
As we stated in Chapter 5, you should assign someone to be in charge of your legal tech stack—a tech leader. It is this person’s responsibility to perform quarterly tech audits, plan for future tech implementation, and keep other team members up to date on the office’s current technology. They should be accountable for staying current on legal tech innovation. The best way to get started with this is to stay up-to-date with our most recent Field Guide.
We suggest that your office perform this audit at least four times a year. Once you have created your current-state document from Chapter 4, this audit shouldn’t be a heavy lift. You can certainly do a legal tech audit more often than quarterly if you have the time and see the need. We recommend creating a definite cadence. That way your office will not be in a constant state of technology assessment.
Note: If you don’t currently have a list of the features your firm needs to operate, go back to Chapter 4.
The first step to a legal tech audit is to compare your current needs to the features your existing technology offers. To do so, you’ll need an updated list of your current necessary features and technology.
Much like in Chapter 4, you’ll start with your operations manual. Read through your processes and procedures and note any function or feature that you need from your tech. Hint: Have your team members do this for the section of the operations manual for which they are responsible for. Write these down in your legal tech audit document.
Once completed, use this information to categorize your existing technology. Although you may find other categories helpful, we suggest you start with Keep, Review, and Retire.
Now that you have an up-to-date list of your issues and technology, categorize each feature as you did in Chapter 4. Indicate whether the feature is Critical, Necessary, or Wanted. This will help you determine how important it is to connect a piece of technology with this function.
Once completed, use this information to categorize your existing technology. Although you may find other categories helpful, we suggest you start with Keep, Review, and Retire
Keep: There will be many pieces of technology that your office will want to keep. Sticking with Microsoft Word as your word processor is an easy one to keep (for now). Or you may have matter management software that is designed for your office that you don’t want to part with. Mark these as Keep and move on.
Review: Anywhere you have multiple pieces of software performing the same job, you’ll want to review at least one of these applications. These may be the low-hanging fruit. More importantly, software that has been giving you and your team problems over the last quarter should be marked as Review.
This may be the project your Tech Leader takes on in the current quarter.
Retire: You’ll also likely find that there is technology in your law office that you don’t even use. You may have a software you bought to do one task and never bothered to unsubscribe from. Platforms that have been superseded by another product in the last quarter may also fall under Retire.
Once marked as Retire, your Tech Leader should get rid of them before the next tech audit.
The preceding portion of the legal tech audit really only takes care of the immediate circumstances of your technology. It communicates your current status but doesn’t address where you are going. For this, you’ll need to track your future state.
Your future-state document is a guide to where you want your systems, processes, and technology to go. It is the next iteration of your tech stack and it is a look toward legal tech innovation. For example, you currently have an off-the-shelf client relationship manager. You plan to create a platform where your clients can track their own cases. That tracking platform is your future state.
This future-state document will not be as detailed as your current legal tech stack documentation. Instead, it is your vision. As you develop your legal tech audit, you will start incorporating the needs of your future state into your current audit. You may not get to that future state in one quarter or even one year. But by taking the steps outlined above, you’ll gradually move toward your goals with purpose.
Now that you’ve determined the whats and hows of your legal technology, it’s time to choose the components of the machine. Our Field Guide to Buying Products & Services will help you make sense of the legal technology landscape. There, you’ll learn how particular tools differ, what basic features you should expect, and what questions to ask providers on demos. You can dig deeper into specific legal tech providers and winnow down your office’s choices.