Principal of lexvoco, Anthony Wright, says law firms face challenges when developing new technology, not least their outdated attitudes to what IT does or can do.
“I suspect many firms still think the IT team is only there to keep the internet, phones and dictaphones working. IT teams are now central to the future of law,” he says.
Wright says ‘techies’ can play a fundamental role in things like coaching lawyers on how to think differently about completing legals, and then extracting information from the lawyers and clients about the outcomes that are required.
This then allows IT teams to build new technology like apps, or to help lawyers within the firm build the apps that could assist their clients or business, he says.
However Wright, who has overseen lexvoco’s development of new apps, says there are other challenges traditional lawyers face in shifting to a tech-driven environment.
“As lawyers, we learn on the first day of law school to follow precedent, follow what’s been done before, like using this template contract. This mentality doesn’t lend itself to thinking differently,” he says. “Also, and ironically, because tech has enormously changed the speed of communication, everyone seems so busy they don’t have time to do something different. Thinking about a new app is one thing, but building, implementing and making a dollar from a new app is not easy and takes precious time.”
Lexvoco’s team have integrated technology expertise into the way the firm is run, and has been successful in developing new technology, including two apps, MyDay and Triage, both of which are designed to make in-house teams’ lives easier.
Wright says the firm has achieved this by creating a culture that encourages “deep thinking and awareness” of what clients need and want, and how that could be solved differently than before. “That might mean building an app or re-designing a workflow but without systematising it straight away,” Wright says.
Along with culture, the firm also needed people with the right skills and mindset.
“We want lawyers to teach the techies about law and vice versa,” he says. “Thankfully, I think we’ve now got the right mix of lawyers, process and Lean experts, strategists and tech developers. We look and listen hard to our customers - mainly in-house teams - about their challenges. Some think that tech will plug, play and fix their issues. But often we find that their processes, workflows and documents are ‘screwed’ and, if they don’t get that right before trying to download an app, it will cause them more pain,” he says.
Wright says if lexvoco can help in-house teams fix their workflows first, then design or recommend an app to make the workflow better, then it’s “happy days”.
‘Techies’ are now central to the future of law, with one law firm arguing firms need to change their attitudes to IT if they want to develop new technologies for clients.