ILTA just released their March edition of Peer to Peer that focuses on client satisfaction as job number one. One of the articles, The End of Ignorange, emphasizes many of the points already brought to light this year. More specifically, the same point that came out of the Chief Information and Technology Officers Forum, lawyers need to use technology to serve their clients better and stay profitable.
Results from the most recent PwC Law Firm Survey suggest that the majority of firms are facing flat margins and an ever-increasing struggle to differentiate themselves. Meanwhile clients are demanding more and literally putting firms to the test. Casey Flaherty, General Counsel for Kia Motors, has designed a technology audit that he gives to his outside counsel to see how technologically proficient they are. If firms are inefficient in their use of technology, he argues that he should not have to pay the additional cost for the extra time it takes them to complete the work. Ben Weinberger, Chief Strategy Officer for Phoenix Business Solutions, and author of the article gives two key solutions to the problem training and the right tools.
A lawyer’s ability to use technology efficiently is now a must with recent changes to the ABA Model Rule 1.1. The “duty of competence” has been amended to include that a “…lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology…” Firms spend millions of dollars on tools to create efficiencies, they should ensure that their lawyers know how to use the tools otherwise they are just throwing away money. Weinberger suggests that firms need options and creativity when it comes to training. Training should be interactive and offered in various methods such as e-learning, podcasts, walking the floor etc. The most important aspect is that it should be mandated.
The Right Tools
Firms are continuously looking at newer systems and tools to help provide that competitive edge. The right tools should provide a comprehensive view that enables lawyers to manage their clients more efficiently. The real value comes from providing simple, efficient access to information from multiple sources in one single system while having the ability to implement workflow components.
Market pressures and client demand will continue to drive changes in the way legal services are offered and the way a firm operates. What’s your take, do you think firms should have to complete a technology audit to prove they are technologically proficient?