Special focus: Legal technology 2015 | Page 2

Special focus: Legal technology Man and machine Law firms may have the latest technology for preventing cyberattacks and the theft of confidential client information, but this means little if fee-earners are not properly trained How secure is your law firm? You may think that by simply installing software designed to prevent security breaches that your firm is immune from danger, but this is a common misconception. Training fee-earners and other staff to follow the correct security procedures is crucial if your firm wants to avoid a situation where ‘human error’ compromises its efforts to use technology to keep client data safe. Technology, like the law, never stands still. In a climate of increasing threats to IT systems, many law firms are now looking towards “digital transformation” to bring their processes into the 21st century, according to Mark Edge, UK country manager at software service provider Brainloop. “Digital transformation is a generic term, which can mean a whole host of things, including moving content online, having a digital strategy or moving towards a paperless office,” he adds. Edge highlights collaboration and secure file ‘share and sync’ as two of the biggest benefits provided by digital transformation. They enable documents to be worked on and edited collaboratively by employees, clients, partners, regulators and authorities, removing the need to print out and consolidate multiple edited copies. “Moving away from mountains of paperwork can save legal firms time, money and provide increased security for documents within an organisation,” Edge says. Law firms are advised to consider solutions that cater for ‘multiple use cases’ and requirements. For example, a single collaboration platform can solve multiple challenges related to ‘automated versioning’ and rights management technologies, as well as providing efficient workflows for managing, sharing and collaborating on sensitive and matter-related data. However, keeping up with 54 • IBERIAN LAWYER • November / December 2015 ever-evolving technology is a major challenge. A recent report by PwC on how UK law firms are investing in digital technology found that, while 80 per cent acknowledged the need to respond to digital age technology, only 23 per cent had implemented the necessary involvements. Indeed, the prospect of a “digital transformation” will likely ring alarm bells within law firms due to the long-held belief that such solutions are expensive, difficult, time consuming to implement, unnecessary, or simply unsafe. Andra Robinson, director operations at contract management firm Concord, says most of these misconceptions have been debunked. “In particular, cloud solutions have made it possible for firms of all sizes to cost effectively and quickly implement technology solutions,” she says. “Furthermore, the operational efficiencies gained by implementing technology far outweigh the investment at the outset of the implementation. “ Simon Thompson, director at legal technology consultancy Change Harbour, shares Robinson’s sentiments. He says “client centricity” is important for law firms if they want to differentiate themselves from their competitors: “Many [firms] are trying to develop deeper and more systemic client relationships, while building and implementing sector-based business development and marketing plans in which they demonstrate leadership in the industries in which their clients operate – technology used in this space includes CRM systems, social media, intelligent news feeds, extranets and client collaboration spaces.” Thompson says alternative fee arrangements, as well as effective practice and financial management systems can facilitate effective analytics and business intelligence, project management systems and profitability planning models. “Make sure you are investing in the right place,” Thompson adds. “IT infrastructure, like datacentres, servers, storage, networks and so on, are increasingly becoming a commodity which you can buy on an ‘on demand’ basis, this is not where the modern law firm should be making large scale capital investments – the legal chief information officer’s (CIO’s) responsibility is to pro-actively enable their law firm to exploit technology in order to meet their strategic objectives and drive competitive advantage.” To this end, technology has somewhat levelled the playing field within the legal profession. All law firms – rather than just the giant law firms – can now look more at automating routine nonessential aspects of the practice as they all have access to high-end technology and solutions. Fee-earner training is vital Carlos García-Egocheaga, the Madrid-based managing director of LexSoft Systems, points out that technology is available to everybody so law firms get no competitive advantage simply by having it. “It is the processes that you decide to implement and how you do so that will give you a cutting edge over the competition,” he adds. “So it is not only about the technology you use, but how you www.iberianlawyer.com