- Legal technology trends
NOV 01, 2016
Can legal tech take Middle East law firms to the next level?
We explore the role of technology in the law firm of today and tomorrow, and consider whether high tech necessarily equates to high performance.
‘First-world ambition with third-world technology systems’ is how one boss of a business management consultancy describes the position many Middle East law firms are in when it comes to legal technology, adding that many are operating a decade behind firms in the US or Australia. His is not a lone voice; 60% of legal professionals who responded to a survey conducted by Legal Week Intelligence in association with Thomson Reuters believe day-to-day operations would benefit greatly from technology solutions. More than half of respondents said their firm’s adoption of legal technology was fair, poor or very poor.
The technology a firm employs can be part of the selection process for a client, helping them to make smarter decisions. As businesses move away from billable hours to fixed fees or caps, the need for swift access to pricing information increases, and this is achieved via accurate and comprehensive data. Improving clarity on spend/fees accrued against budget is a top efficiency driver for 39% of survey respondents.
Key areas where technology can have an impact include:
- Matter management software – especially important for M&D deals, where ancillary documentation can reach upward of 10,000 pages
- Customer relationship management – tools can allow for more detailed data analysis on the performance of fee earners, improving business intelligence
- Practice management and electronic time keeping – helping firms keep pace with rapid expansion
- Knowledge management – making it easier and quicker to carry out research
But technology is not an all-encompassing automatic driver of growth, and there are challenges to its adoption, not least of which is getting everyone on board. In the Middle East relationships are often developed over time and built on trust – speed is not necessarily of the essence. In addition, some senior staff may be reluctant to move away from what could be considered old-school working practices with a preference for hard copy and physical documents.
Inevitably, as law firms get bigger so the role of technology will develop. The shape and form of this technology will vary from business to business, as priorities shift with client demands – and as awareness of the latest tools available to the legal professional increases.
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