Choosing The Right Legal Tech For Your Firm

Choosing the right legal technology for your law firm can seem overwhelming. Many companies and products are new to the market, and more tech products seem to launch every month. You know that you need to implement legal tech into your firm’s operations to keep pace, but where do you start?

Joshua Lenon, Lawyer in Residence at Clio, recently offered some advice in a recent webinar about evaluating legal tech for law firms (you can find it here). By starting with the baseline business objectives of your firm and walking through ethical implications, choosing which legal technology products to purchase doesn’t have to be a guessing game.

Here is a brief overview of the advice Lenon shared.

 

Shopping For Legal Tech

Business considerations will likely be a determining factor when selecting legal technology. In other words, you want to purchase technology that will provide a return on your investment.

But with so many legal tech companies offering similar services at similar prices, how do you even begin to make a decision?

 

Table Stakes

Lenon suggested starting with “table stakes,” or the absolute minimum features your law firm requires. Does the legal tech meet your specifications? Is the product within your price range? Is the technology compliant with existing regulations? 

There is not much differentiation between products on this level, but you should get a good idea of what types of legal technology will meet your needs. If the legal technology does not meet these basic requirements, it is time to look elsewhere for a solution.

 

Functional Value 

The next step is to look at the functional value of the legal technology. The technology should improve your firm’s bottom line. It should also be scalable and innovative, helping you grow your firm. And, of course, the product should be of high quality.

 

Ease Of Use 

Beyond functional value is the technologies ease of use. Technology should produce a timesaving and help your firm operate more efficiently. The technology should also be a good cultural fit for your law firm. Furthermore, the technology vendor should be available to answer questions, provide support and be committed to a long-lasting relationship with your firm. Look for training centers, a knowledge database or available online support.

Onboarding and training are also important factors to consider. Lawyers should pick software that imports existing data and integrates with the technology and apps that their firms are already using.

 

Purpose

Perhaps harder to quantify, new legal tech should also fit into your vision for the future of your law firm. The technology should help you increase your network, marketability and reputation. In addition, the technology should be in line with your design and aesthetic sensibilities. And it doesn’t hurt if the technology is fun to use.

Cost may seem like the most important factor in deciding which legal technology to implement. In actuality, product quality, expertise and responsiveness to queries and support calls are the most impactful, according to one Harvard Business Review study.  Law firms should loo beyond the price tag and find a quality product or service that balances business concerns with ethical considerations and is in line with the firm’s vision. 

Before jumping on new legal tech, Lenon said you should consider who in your firm the new tool would be valuable to. Paralegals, secretaries and junior associates may have different needs than top-level partners. By bringing in the entire staff to help in the selection of technology for your firm, your firm’s employees will be less likely to use tools that you did not approve. 

 

Ethical Considerations

When choosing a technology service provider for your law firm, ethical considerations are just as important as business considerations. Technology should have easy-to-use and cost-effective safeguards to protect confidential data. Because many legal tech vendors design products specifically for lawyers, the safeguarding features will only enhance legal representation.

 

Vetting Legal Tech For Your Firm 

So you’ve found a legal tech product that can help you meet your business objectives and meets ethical standards. To make sure you are making the right decision, you should vet your choice with reviews from parties outside of your law firm.

State bar associations, for example, often have a list of preferred vendors. In many cases, they will partner with certain vendors to provide discounts and benefits to members. If a legal tech provider has partnered with a bar association, then you can be assured that the tech company provides a quality product that rises to meet related ethical and regulatory requirements.

Legal industry publications are also a great place to read reviews and testimonials about new legal tech products. Above The Law, Lawyerist and ABA Law Practice Today all offer insight on emerging legal tech. Software comparison sites like Capterra, G2 Crowd and GetApp are also reliable third-party sources that provide reviews and testimonials. Lastly, surveys such as the ABA Legal Technology Survey Report are interesting sources to see what legal tech other law firms are using.

It is important to choose vendors that have either been around for a long time and show no signs of stopping, or selecting legal tech that will allow you to export your data in a useful format when changing vendors. For example, lawyers have an ethical obligation to maintain client files for a period of time, and the technology they choose to manage those files should recognize that obligation.

Lastly, a legal tech vendor should be transparent about their product. A lawyer should be alerted to any known vulnerabilities that could compromise their data. In addition, law firms should be able to research and read reports related to security measures.

 

Related articles: 

What Is A Lawyer's Duty Of Technology Competence? 

Technologies that can drive law firm efficiency

Using technology to expand your client base, increase efficiency and reach underserved communities

5 Productivity Apps For Lawyers

 


Tyler Roberts is an editor for The National Jurist. You can follow him on Twitter at @wtylerroberts