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Navigating the minefield of procuring Legaltech

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The hype surrounding LegalTech is at an all-time high. Law firms and in-house legal teams are under increasing pressure to automate processes and become more efficient. We are seeing rapid growth of new vendors in this industry as is evident from just a wander down the Start-up Alley at Legal Geek. This can be overwhelming when trying to find which technology can provide the solutions your business needs – so how can you ensure you are procuring the right software and in the right way?

1. Map your processes

Step number one is to recognise the power of process. Map out current processes and highlight inefficiencies. There may be  multiple processes for each team or practice area looking to adopt new technology. Take the time to do this properly as it will pay off in the long run. 

Then use these maps to inform what the ‘ideal state’ should be. What does the most efficient process look like and how does that differ from the current state? Will technology help you to achieve this desired state and if so, at which stage in the process? It is important to remember that technology is not the solution: it is an enabler of  the solution. Bad processes must first be overcome with the right amount of planning and engagement. 

Throughout my career, and more recently during my time at HighQ, I have often seen  a lack of defined process, particularly with smaller in-house legal teams. Ways of working and methods of communication evolve organically, but it is also necessary to take a step back and robustly assess them. From a solutions point of view, it is important for me to encourage clients to tackle this first in order for us to pinpoint key use cases and design those effectively.

2. Engage key stakeholders

As part of the process-mapping exercise, identify who the key stakeholders are at each stage. Next, engage those individuals and understand what their pain points are, including regular work that  can be considered to be low-value and repetitive.. Get to the crux of the matter and simply ask them “what annoys you on a day to day basis?”. This will help you define the ‘why’ behind procuring new technology. At this stage, you may find that the processes mapped out previously need reviewing and tweaking – it is vital to allow the people involved in those processes to contribute to this process. 

Allow those stakeholders to  advise what data (and subsequent metadata) needs to be captured and reported on, and how frequently. Standardising this will help to inform the desired outcome from the process flow(s) and will allow you to capture the key information required to analyse and gain visibility into business operations.

Encouraging this open communication between various teams will help you  design the correct solution to aid the entire organisation. It will also ease the onboarding and implementation process. Culture is key – remember to build relationships and a strong foundation of trust to ensure stakeholders are truly invested in adopting new technology. 

From having  conversations across the organisation, it will become apparent who is enthusiastic and ‘bought in’ to using any new software – assign those individuals the role of ‘LegalTech Champion’. This person (or people) will be indispensable to the onboarding process,  enabling others to use the new technology as quickly and effectively as possible. In an ideal world, every organisation would have dedicated change management resource. Where this is not possible, having ‘champions’ is especially important. 

3. Don’t get overwhelmed!

A common theme that has emerged from  numerous LegalTech events recently is that many people have admitted to getting carried away with the LegalTech ‘hype’. Cut through the hype by questioning why your organisation needs this technology and how exactly it can help  business operations. If you are procuring multiple technologies, ensure that they can integrate with one another for an easier, seamless user experience. 

Harnessing the power of people and processes will allow law firms and in-house legal teams to effect meaningful, systemic change through technology. Entering into conversations with technology vendors while armed with process maps and internal ‘champions’ will make those conversations more focused and meaningful, resulting in your organisation procuring the right solution for the business.

By Kirsty Ramsay
Legal Solutions Engineer at HighQ

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