Please enjoy this excellent summary of the popular ILTACON session "Why You Need a New Change Management Strategy to Get Lawyers to Adopt Technology" authored by Julia Montgomery, Director, Solutions Advisory, INTAPP.
Many of us are familiar with various change management methodologies and proven best practices, such as telling our audience the strategic benefits of our technology change or leveraging senior management as change communicators. But you might have learned – the hard way – that some tried and true change management activities aren’t as effective in building adoption of new technologies among lawyers. Why is this the case, and how can we adjust our strategies to overcome this change resistance?
Some insights into why lawyers can be more resistant to change initiatives can be found in the research of Dr. Larry Richard, who studied the key traits of lawyers. Dr. Richard and his team assessed more than 1,000 lawyers using the Caliper Profile, which scores individuals on 18 common traits, such as skepticism, urgency, and resilience. The results revealed several common traits on which lawyers’ scores were significantly and consistently different from the scores of other professionals. For example, skepticism emerged as consistently the highest-scoring trait among lawyers with the average professional scoring 50 on skepticism compared to the average lawyer’s score of 90.
This research provides us with a roadmap that not only shows us why some of our change efforts don’t win over lawyers, but also gives us insights into how we can adjust our change management approach to account for these characteristics and overcome resistance. For example, highly skeptical individuals likely require more than our standard “why” messaging to be convinced a new technology brings value to them, individually. Reviewing a lawyer’s recent support tickets to understand their technology frustrations is one practical tactic to help you craft “why” messages that prove value at an individual level. This type of individual-level benefit messaging can help overcome high skepticism.
With a high score on the urgency trait, lawyers require us to be more thoughtful, creative, and intentional in our change communications: shorter emails, leveraging bullet points and whitespace; videos that are short and are designed for easy mobile consumption. And remember that lawyers are wordsmiths by trade – our messaging must be as accurate as it is succinct.
The data also revealed a lower-than-average resilience score among lawyers. While we always plan for effective support when launching a new technology, it turns out this aspect of change planning is especially crucial to lawyers adoption – if they become frustrated when attempting to use a new technology and don’t have in-the-moment support, it’s difficult to convince them to give your technology a second try.
Winning lawyers over to new technologies isn’t the impossible feat it can sometimes seem. However, it does require preparation on our part. We must take into account the unique attributes of lawyers, and do the work to understand how those traits require us to adjust many proven change management practices. With time and intention, you can develop a change management plan that will overcome change resistance among your firm’s lawyers and achieve effective adoption of your new technologies.