Prioritizing Technology Competence Education, Can Attorneys Reap the Benefits?

Prioritizing Technology Competence Education, Can Attorneys Reap the Benefits?

Are you an Attorney who’s struggling to keep up with technology in this fast-paced seemingly ever-changing landscape?

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Prioritizing Technology Competence Education, Can Attorneys Reap the Benefits?

Are you an Attorney who’s struggling to keep up with technology in this fast-paced seemingly ever-changing landscape? Has your firm implemented new products in the past, only to watch those projects fail miserably with little or no end-user adoption? Facing these challenges must first begin by recognizing and identifying problems you may not even know you have.

Today, “Technology Competence” has become a skillset of strategic importance for all Legal Professionals. How can anyone expect to be a driving force behind progressive change within their firm if they don’t have a basic understanding of why technology works in the first place? Being able to prioritize your own education in emerging tech, to improve upon how you deliver services for your clients, must be considered critically important, just as Continuing Legal Education is. Only then will you truly be able to work with technology experts to ensure a better design for your practice and ultimately improve customer experience.

Your tech stack (LegalTech and other technologies) is nothing more than a collection of tools, which enhance your natural abilities. It’s extremely important to first plan the best transition away from whichever legacy process you have that’s failing, to a new one which incorporates modern tech and can work well for you. If you dig in and really embed your own legal knowledge, you won’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong solution or rolling out a vanilla install that’s not tailored to optimize your workflow. This is where most law firm deployments that fail, do. They don’t conform software selected to match their own re-imagined internal processes, before, during, or after making a purchase decision. Lack of proper training leads to poor adoption, with excuses like “I don’t have time to learn this”, or an overall acceptance of risk aversion as it relates to embracing change.

When projects fail, it’s human nature to look for someone to blame, and we do this almost instinctively. These failures typically begin prior to evaluation, where internal workflows are not well understood or defined by everyone involved. The negative judgement that ensues is self-defeating and must be stopped, or better yet prevented from ever happening in the first place. If self-reflection leads to awareness, understanding, and ultimately actionable knowledge, then it’s easy right? Not so fast, because if you’re reading this then you’re an Attorney who never found the time to prioritize technology education.

The question “Where do I begin?” is very relevant and can be seem daunting at first. The truth is experience can often be found all around you. Here are five ways you can improve your skillset starting today, and almost all of them are 100% free:

  1. First, let’s consider the very people you work with and depend upon such as Legal Assistants, Paralegals, Document Specialists, etc. Embrace them, as they can help you gain insight into what doesn’t work, or critical processes that are currently being overcome inefficiently or manually. They are a bridge between the Law, your clients, and technology. They have hands on experience using your existing tools, while juggling the day-to-day business requirements of the practice. These exceptional professionals are all too often overworked, yet for inexplicable reasons are underutilized when it comes to planning and adopting new solutions.
  2. Not every firm has depth here, but if you’re fortunate enough to benefit from an internal IT Dept., they too want you to participate in healthy and supportive ways. They may not have specific legal knowledge; however, you will find great value within these individuals as well. Technical personnel can ensure security is maintained, while helping you to explore the boundaries of what’s possible with specific products. Interoperability between platforms is also important to understand. Your IT Team will know what added value can be achieved by connecting products together. Be sure to include them in all phases of the project and ask lots of smart questions. They are your first line of defense and will support your new solutions long after it’s put into production.
  3. Likewise, technology manufacturers have a vested interest in your success with their products, they want to empower you with an intimate understanding of how to best leverage their solutions. Brushing them off as “Vendors” or “Salespeople” will only limit your understanding of both their products and where they sit within their respective competitive markets.
  4. Look to peers who have taken the initiative to expand their own horizons or professional consultants who offer their expertise as a service to the Legal Industry at large. Legal Solution Providers come at a cost, but work with many different types of law firms regularly. Their experience spans different areas of practice, organization sizes, complexity of infrastructures, etc. In addition, they can connect you with other clients who’ve implemented similar solutions and can share their experiences with you directly.
  5. Finally, the internet is filled with useful guidance, everything from articles like this one, to podcasts, broadcast seminars, experienced influencers, LegalTech Journalists, and industry events. Join forums, follow experts, and proactively participate in open discussions as often as you can.

The problems we’re trying to solve will always be challenging, but if the goal is to move faster and deliver higher quality results to more clients, your direct involvement is the only way forward. As children we learn very quickly that square pegs don’t fit into round holes. For technology to align, Attorney’s must be willing to take a long hard look at old workflows and processes.

The most successful projects begin by prioritizing your own education. After all, you have the legal knowledge, and LegalTech tools exist solely for your benefit. Taking a leadership role with technology adoption is not only a prerequisite for successful projects, but also the best way to guarantee returning meaningful long-term value from your investments.

Although this excerpt was written 2500 years ago, I believe it’s an appropriate ending to this article. “One who knows neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be defeated in every engagement.” Tzu, Sun. The Art of War & Other Classics of Eastern Philosophy. Thunder Bay Press, 2016