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The True Value of Legal Tech Makes Life Easier – Artificial Lawyer


Legal technology produces many business benefits for law firms and in-house legal teams, but its value is often experienced at a very human level and ROI analysis won’t always see the true picture.

‘Show me the money!’

When considering return on investment (ROI), it is probably essential to add hard economic numbers to the formula, for example, we saved 10% of the team’s time by reviewing these documents with this technology, which translates into X money savings.

The problem is that very few lawyers think in those terms in real life. In large commercial law firms, only one rule really matters: stay busy. If you save time doing something, there’s just more to do because you have to keep charging. If a tool reduces some cost for a customer, this saving must also be recovered elsewhere in the company. Saving money is about as appealing to most law firms as having to eat cold porridge for breakfast.

For the internal teams, it’s a permanent tsunami of work to do. As the company grows, this constant wave of legal and compliance issues only increases. Everyone is busy. Still. Even if they are not on time. Yes, internal teams have budgets, but the main role of the team is to save the company from getting killed on the sacrificial altar of legal claims. This very narrow workflow that has been made 17.3% more efficient with a technology tool may excite the accounting team, but for the company’s many in-house lawyers, not really. There are bigger things at stake.

So let’s not kid ourselves that lawyers on either side of the line are happy to save money. They don’t. In fact, in a world where a person in their early twenties doing what is effectively high-level secretarial work can bring in several hundred dollars an hour, the idea of ​​achieving microeconomic savings, for the buyer or the seller, as the main driver for the implementation of new legal technological solutions seems almost absurd.

So why buy legal tech? The answer is, perhaps ironically, that the economic benefits do come into play, but they are experienced indirectly – almost instinctively – and what might really interest a lawyer in your product is something much more immediate and human: make their life easier. .

The true value of Legal Tech: making life easier

In the absence of a hot economic platform for most lawyers, what driver is there to invest in legal technology? There are two main reasons: your employees and your customers. Or in other words, make life easier.

For example, a transactional team is always in the trenches, especially the associates who have to do almost all the heavy lifting on transactions. They enjoy the buzz of being on a big deal, but the drudgery really grates after a while. Partners are also concerned that with all this pressure and so much data flowing, there could be errors, which in turn will annoy customers. If customers are bored, they may possibly lose one, and in turn the business will be a little worse off than before, not to mention that the partner may have one less customer they can rely on to generate revenue. for his team, which in turn can impact compensation.

So what is the solution ? Let’s bring a transaction management tool. It’s not magic, but it takes a lot of groundwork and helps everyone stay on track. What are the benefits? As noted, they aren’t directly budget-friendly, but there are plenty of them out there.

Reduce burnout and loss of talent

With less manual drudgery involved in transactions, associates don’t get time off, but they can do less work they don’t like and find meaningful. So they stay in the office.

Retaining top talent is a huge long-term benefit for a law firm. They are the future of the business, and the ones with a lot of “start-ups and start-ups” are the ones you want to keep, not lead to exits because of the burden of process work. This in turn is for the economic benefit of the company as a whole. More quality talent = better customer service = satisfied customers = long-term business success.

Also, for internal and contract management teams, there is their own version of this story. A junior corporate lawyer doesn’t think about money when someone introduces a new contract review system, he thinks, “I really hope this makes my life easier!” If this is the case, everyone is happy. If not, it’s a waste. The money point is not the key issue.

Help other departments

Another for the internal world is how technology helps the whole business. Data extracted from contracts can help the business as a whole and allow it to really see what’s going on (because contracts contain key data about every transaction the business makes).

Now some legal tech companies are getting into some pretty elaborate explanations of how System X can help you cut (a little) cost by helping you better negotiate certain contract terms – but I bet that doesn’t excite not really many people in the business.

What would excite the sales or finance team, for example, is to have at their fingertips all the key business data they need, because it has been extracted from all the company’s contracts and can be easily understood via a dashboard. That is to say, it’s practical, it’s useful, it makes life easier. There may well be financial benefits to this, but the convenience wins out.

Making tools for customers is also about convenience

A growing number of law firms are trying to build suites of tools to provide clients with self-service offerings so they can do things like assess data rules on their own. This is low value work for which an automated tool is perfect. But why do it? It doesn’t make a lot of money for the company. This is because it makes the customer’s life easier. It solves a problem quickly and easily in an area where the business wouldn’t make a lot of money.

Use legal tech – or really just “tech” – to help the client, so they are happy and see you as a helper, not a barrier that only opens when they wave their wallet. In the long run, what appears to be an unprofitable project is actually a very smart move.

So, goodbye ROI

And there are many other examples. The key point is that selling on the silver first is difficult. It throws you into a discussion about ROI, which, if we’re being upfront about it, a lot of people don’t really care about.

ROI and charts with numbers sound good, look good, but it’s weak compared to, “Hey, customers really loved this new thing we can do for them with X!” Or, ‘Wow, the CFO just came over and patted me on the back thanking me for making it so easy to see all the contract renewal data. We really have a much clearer idea of ​​where the company is heading now.

What sounds better?

“Team X in the organization saved 10% on process Y.”

Versus

“The client was really happy with how we did X for him.”

If you were a lawyer, it would undoubtedly be the second.

And so, back to the economy…

The irony here is that he Is it all comes down to money. This is the challenge of legal tech in the commercial legal world: it is all about business matters. Why? Because it’s a world of organizations all out to make a profit. They profit when they can retain the best talent, attract the best customers, and nurture those relationships. These things translate into more money for shareholders (or partners).

If you don’t believe me, look the opposite. Company A doesn’t care that its associates are unhappy with too much process work, so some of the most talented people move on to companies where they aren’t expected to do that work without help. of technology. Company A also does not care about making life easier for its customers and does not provide any added value, nor does it seek to facilitate the transaction process with technology. Things that technology can do easily are ignored. The costs of basic things are passed on to the customer.

The end result is that the company loses talent. Customers also see that they are being treated poorly by what is now the market norm and relationships are fraying. Over time, the company begins to lose its position in the market. He therefore misses the best offers and earns less money. Because he makes less money, he can’t pay higher salaries, and some key partners are jumping ship. This can then lead to constant sinking on the tables. That is to say, all of this has a very real economic result. And all because they ignored the need to make life easier with legal technology.

Conclusion

Personally, I would recommend law firms and in-house legal teams to maintain a strategy paired with legal tech, keeping an eye on the immediate benefits of making life easier for their talent and clients, knowing that at In the long run, this will have economic benefits. .

First think about the benefits of technology on a very human level, and maybe still first, then appreciate the resulting business value.

For legal tech companies, it may be time to ditch the “we can save you 10% on X” sales routine and instead focus on people and clients. Because the most powerful sales pitch in the world is when you believe this tool will make your life easier – and then it turns out it really is.

By Richard Tromans, Founder, Artificial Advocate, August 2022

[ Note: I have to admit that I am going through something of a reassessment of several of the key pillars associated with the ‘new wave’ of legal technology. In the past I have praised the value of ROI, but now, I am happy to say that view has changed. There are just too many intangibles that need to be considered and they are very hard to measure with an Excel spread sheet. ]