Thursday 17 December 2015 8:07 am

Technology in the legal sector: How IT can help lawyers provide gold-plated service at bronze level prices

I'm a reporter at City A.M., mainly covering law, professional services and banking

I'm a reporter at City A.M., mainly covering law, professional services and banking

Follow Hayley Kirton

Some industries have kept pace with the constantly-evolving world of technology. The legal industry, arguably, has not.

This is not because the legal sector has not seen value in technology investments – the root of under-investment in IT stems from the global financial crisis, when law firms’ bottom lines were squeezed.

Seven years on, times are less tough. Firms have breathing room to invest in their future competitiveness.

We are seeing a clear, growing appetite from law firms both global and domestic to significantly increase their rate of investment in technology – investments which are increasingly necessary to stay ahead of the competition.

Clients today expect gold-plated service at bronze-level prices. The application of modern technology in day-to-day business can give law firms the ability to provide a high-quality service at the lower price-points increasingly demanded.

But it isn’t all about costs. Investment in IT is imperative for both domestic and global law firms to offer the quality of service and flexible propositions that clients now demand.

The wave of consolidation in the legal sector over the past decade makes this especially important. In practice, some law firms are still operating like a collection of firms with a shared brand, with different IT operating systems and platforms. Global clients demand a seamless global service, and therefore the infrastructure of a firm has never been more important.

Firms must manage their relationships effectively. Understanding who has met with a client, when, over what issue or legal matter, the ensuing result, the profitability of each instruction and, ultimately, the relationship, is vital. Such data can help create efficiencies, guiding decision-makers and management of firms to form better targeted strategies, including which clients to prioritise.

Only with this quality of data can firms allocate resources, such as talent, investment, and time in the most efficient way possible. In other words – allow firms to provide gold-plated service, at bronze-level prices.

The right IT systems will allow firms to stay in the game; getting ahead of it is another thing entirely.