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HomeArticleLegal technology suppliers…a law firm’s tale

Legal technology suppliers…a law firm’s tale

Legal technologists and legal technology suppliers, a partnership and tale as old as time (or rather the past 10 or so years since legal tech has boomed). As accidental technologists and members of the legal tech team, we love our tech suppliers! Without them we wouldn’t be able to provide innovative legal services for our clients. However, as the market gets more and more competitive, we often find ourselves feeling a little frazzled by the sheer amount of tech and suppliers out there. So, we thought why not write this article from the law firm side of the story….

It takes a village

As accidental technologists, we’re fanatical about legal tech! It’s a huge part of our role, however just because we get excited over a new piece of whizzy tech doesn’t mean it’s always suitable or appropriate for the firm to buy it. We often ask the question of “should we” rather than “could we”.  Once we’ve concluded the answer is yes, we should be doing this, the hard work begins. It takes a village to procure legal technology as there are so many elements to consider:

  • Risk, security and insurance
  • Engagement and use cases
  • Business need
  • Do we already have technology internally that could do the job
  • Financials and return on investment
  • Sustainability considerations

This is all before we can even consider a trial or sandbox period. What seems like a fairly straight forward sequence of events for a supplier (successful demo = pilot) is actually a very complex web for us.

Supplier music to our ears

There are plenty of things we really love about suppliers. 

1. Honesty about commercials. There’s nothing more refreshing than openness around commercials and the different models available. 

2. Targeted and well thought through demos. We’re always impressed when a supplier has researched the attendees of a demo, it saves the awful intros at the start of the call and would hopefully provide the supplier with some background and context as to who is attending the call and what they need to get out of it. There’s no harm clarifying this before a demo or at the start of a call. If real estate lawyers are on the call, for example, focusing solely on commercial examples is not going to help to showcase how the portal will benefit us. Granted, it is helpful to understand different use cases, but know your audience and their specific business needs. 

3. Responsive and supportive communication. We appreciate it can be a challenging road to implementation, but if we believe the product could benefit our business, we’ll absolutely do all we can to explore the possible. We, therefore, value when suppliers are responsive and supportive of the questions we have throughout the process. We need to answer the questions to satisfy the different elements of legal tech procurement (and rightly so), therefore, helpful and patient suppliers are always appreciated.  

Top tips:

  • Stop, collaborate and LISTEN: We can’t rush anything or cut corners, so please listen to us when we confirm our timelines or advise that the tech isn’t quite right for us at the moment. 
  • Please, no circumnavigation: A common supplier move is circumnavigating the legal tech team after an unsuccessful demo and casting the net wider to lawyers and partners across the business. Some have gone as far as to quote names of members of the tech team to suggest we have approved the direct contact. As the legal tech team, we will inevitably be asked for our thoughts, by which point the relationship has been damaged discouraging us from the supplier even more. 
  • Cold calling = cold shoulder: Out of the blue calls and emails with little to no information about what the product does or how it can benefit us are bound to be ignored. Same goes for bombarding the team with emails and calls, we love exploring new legal tech but we do have other commitments as part of our day-to-day. If we don’t respond in the same day, an additional 3 emails and calls that week are likely to deter us. 
  • Consider sustainability: I recently conducted a mass clear out of my home office and ended up throwing away at least 15 brochures from various legal tech forums this year. Digital info is the way forward, masses of paper flyers and brochures will inevitably end up in the recycling bin. With law firms and individuals becoming increasingly aware of their own carbon footprint, dishing out paper copies is quickly becoming a red flag, not to mention the single use plastic freebies (stress balls, plastic wrapped key rings etc.). 
  • Good merchandise never hurts: While it’s not essential…good merchandise at a legal tech forum is a great way to stand out from the crowd. There are only so many notebooks and pens an accidental technologist can use. The best merch we have seen over the years often includes food (doughnuts always go down well) and quirky items that generate conversation like solar powered battery packs and cool bags that double as a seat. Even without the material goods, honest, friendly conversations are so valuable and are likely to be remembered for all the right reasons.

Grace MacWilliam 
Senior Engagement Advisor
Mills & Reeve

Photo by Fauxels

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