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Who is the Boss? How Client Demands Are Shaping Technology Adoption

By Christiane Matuch posted 01-22-2024 16:00


The legal technology landscape is vast and offers time, risk and cost saving solutions for a growing range of legal service categories. Clients know what is available on the market and understand how the use of solutions can benefit them in terms of efficiency and therefore value. While the demand for visibility in delivering services increases, clients want to know what products their law firms are using (or at least what they have access to) and are often direct in requesting specific technologies.

Requests invariably arise in a number of different ways and through different channels. Clients may ask that technology solutions they are familiar with, and possibly already using, are selected as the ‘go to’ for collaborative working on projects to minimize the number of platforms they are required to learn. At other times, they may have heard a solution recommended and are keen to experience efficiency benefits for themselves by requesting usage by their law firms. Occasionally clients will ask for direct access to a specific product, and as trusted partners, law firms provide an ideal way for clients to experience the technology hands-on (in addition to having their own view of certain products and approaches). This is due to the evaluation and onboarding having already been completed, and access in this way is less costly for a client to trial unfamiliar tech. 

Selecting a legal technology solution in the first instance may not always be the default approach for legal teams and so client mandated use of solutions can help promote a greater understanding of how legal technology can benefit working practices more widely. If asked to use a specific solution, fee earners are required to get up to speed quickly, and in doing so will gain first-hand knowledge of the benefits of using technology to minimize repetitive manual work whilst gaining a greater understanding of client needs. This can lead to a more confident approach generally in using legal technologies for other areas of work and more openness in considering technology where it may not have been an option before. In this scenario, client directed usage can have a direct and positive impact on adoption.

Specific solutions may be asked for by name, but most of the time clients just know that there is an alternative, more cost-effective way of delivering services and want to see those savings passed on. When requests to use specific technologies are made, it is important to remember that the outcome is what is really being asked for, not the technology itself and so it is for the law firm to assess when a product would be used for the sake of it and to advise on the most beneficial and appropriate approach. Focusing on the outcome of the work and successful service delivery will avoid duplication or investing in legal technology when the investment cost does not provide value to the client or ROI for the firm. Looking at the law firm’s tech stack holistically while focusing on client need is crucial for a successful outcome.

Tech stacks can certainly benefit from client demands and they are often a good way of accelerating the onboarding of technologies the firm may be in the early stages of evaluating. It is the balance between the need for a technology, the fit into existing systems, and the potential to scale solutions that must be considered when discussing technologies that clients specifically request. After all, they will feel the effects of disparate systems as much as the legal practices will.

The customer’s voice carries a lot of weight. Nevertheless, it is also crucial to address the needs and requirements of the client within the context of the law firm’s existing tech stack and capabilities to deliver the most successful outcomes. In the end it is a good (and much needed) dialogue to have between law firms and their clients.