New Technology at Your Firm: What Good is a Ferrari Without Gas?

New Technology at Your Firm: What Good is a Ferrari Without Gas?

RCottrellThe legal industry has traditionally been slow to embrace technological innovation. While there is some evidence that’s changing, many remain unconvinced. In a recent post titled What’s Wrong With You, Lawyers?, the Above the Law blog wrote that “Law firms are notoriously averse to change and, relatedly, technology. I worked with partners who responded to email with handwritten notes circulated via intra-office mail.” They also reported that only 11 percent of firms are using a next-generation endpoint security solution beyond traditional anti-virus software, 41 percent of firms don’t use any software solution for managing ethical conflicts, and 27 percent are running a version of Word that’s seven or more years old.

The relationship between firms and technology is more complicated than a few statistics, however. In fact, many firms already own advanced technology solutions but are failing to properly learn, integrate and adopt these systems into their practices. The Time Blawg posted the useful graphic below illustrating the adoption challenge for firms implementing new technology, while also showing no shortage of technology ownership. It strongly suggests that the larger the firm, the slower the adoption rate.

Technology Adoption Cycle

The momentum arrow is pointing forward for technology in the legal industry, however. The new Suffolk Flaherty Legal Technology Audit (LTA) hopes to provide accountability for firms, and may encourage greater technology adoption and efficiency. At Aderant’s recent LawTech Atlanta Conference, the panelists agreed that firms should invest in technology that enables them to better serve their clients and “get back to basics.” Furthermore, Aderant’s new white paper on The Emergence of Tigers and Bears and Other Law Firm Trends found that 98% of firms are undertaking one or more technology initiatives in 2014, with 37% of mid-sized and 49% of large law firms reporting increased IT budgets for the year.

The key to successfully implementing new technology into your practice is adoption, and adoption involves learning and training. Monica Sandler with the LTA noted that “We found lawyers and their staff wanting in basic tech competence, despite the fact that most spend the vast majority of their days sitting at a computer and billing for their time.” What makes technology work is the people using it, and whether they understand the power of the tools they’ve been given. It’s great to have a Ferrari in the garage, but if there’s no gas in the tank it’s not going anywhere!

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