The legal industry faces unique challenges to the adoption of new technology and digital transformation efforts. This article will discuss the most typical obstacles and introduce a framework that will help firms analyze whether a new tech solution is likely to integrate successfully.
Impediments to technological progress in the legal sector
Time investment. As you likely know, being an attorney isn’t a regular 9-5 job. A recent survey claims lawyers work an average of 66 hours per week. That’s like a typical full-time and part-time job combined. So, all but the largest firms with dedicated IT teams can’t afford to spend too much time implementing new technology. Small firms and solo practitioners simply don’t have the resources to research, test, and deploy complex tech solutions.
Cybersecurity and confidentiality concerns. Legal professionals have needs that go above and beyond the average office worker when it comes to digitization. Due to attorney-client privilege and the ethical responsibility to maintain data security, attorneys need to be extra careful when upgrading their technology. They may have to look for approved ‘legal tech’ solutions when off-the-shelf consumer products don’t meet these standards.
The “billable hour” issue. Although there may be a shift in billing practices in a few firms, most still rely on the time-tested “billable hour” method. It may seem like a paradox, but the increase in efficiency new tech can bring might actually reduce a firm’s profitability due to fewer billable hours plus the cost (initial and ongoing) of the technology itself. While an increase in clients due to more free time could offset this problem, the demand for legal services, especially in less populated regions, probably won’t rise at the same rate.
The partnership model. The traditional hierarchy of law firms puts the “partners” at the top. Depending on the organization’s size, many decision-makers would need to approve any new legal tech initiative. This alone makes it an uphill battle, but add in the fact that partners tend to be older people who may not see technological advancement as a priority, and it becomes a serious deterrent. Obviously, this is a much more significant obstacle at larger firms, but any practice will multiple partners could face a difficult situation.
The “ignorance is bliss” dilemma. Solo practitioners and small firms don’t have the resources of their more massive brethren. This means that tech policies and solutions mega-firms implement have a hard time trickling down. Unfortunately, this can lead to solo practitioners developing an “ignorance is bliss” mantra, even if they don’t necessarily believe that to be the case.
For example, whereas large organizations may completely ban the use of insecure applications such as Dropbox for confidential file transfer or storage, smaller practices could still use them due to familiarity. They don’t search out current best practices for data storage because they may fear switching and disrupting their workflow.
While this is an understandable reaction, we urge attorneys to push through this bias for their own sake. After all, if a serious data breach occurs and the lawyer has not lived up to their ethical responsibilities, it becomes an even worse situation.
The innovation-decision process
We recommend running through the innovation-decision process before making conclusions about a particular technology’s viability for your firm. This process goes as follows:
- Assess comparative advantage. Does the new technology offer a substantial upgrade to your current systems? Define these advantages and review the overall impact they will have.
- Analyze compatibility. Does the solution fit into your existing workflow? If not, what resources will you need to allocate to adapt your business practices?
- Consider complexity. If you do need to adapt, calculate the cost-benefit analysis (not just financial, but also psychological) of doing so. Will it be a complicated endeavor? Do the results outweigh these complexities?
- Evaluate trialability. See if the vendor offers any sort of trial or demo. You can test out the solution, receive critical feedback and preliminary effectiveness metrics before committing to the entire project.
If you go through this process and discern that the tech is worth using, you will be much more confident in the solution and have a greater chance for success.
Your firm and AXEL Go
While the decision will still be challenging in many instances, sometimes the Universe serves up a no-brainer. AXEL Go is a secure, private file-sharing and cloud storage solution that overcomes the common obstacles and scores well on the innovation-decision process.
With the sudden shift toward working remotely, many attorneys find themselves in need of an easy-to-use file-sharing application that can fit seamlessly into their legacy workflow while providing more robust data security. AXEL Go is the perfect solution for any such lawyer. It has many innovative advantages, including:
- Industry-leading security. AXEL Go runs on a secure, decentralized network that features blockchain integration and file encryption. Documents stored on the network go through a process of “digital shredding,” where only the uploader and recipient (if there is one) have access to the complete file.
- Secure Fetch. Think of it as a digital courier. You send a secure, encrypted link to a recipient and request certain sensitive documents. They upload the necessary files, and you receive a notification for download. Recipients do not need AXEL Go accounts, meaning you don’t have to badger clients or colleagues to sign up for new services or software. You get to meet data security guidelines without any hassle or inconvenience.
- Microsoft Outlook integration. You can now send confidential data via email without having to rely on insecure attachments. Using our Outlook plugin, you can send fortified AXEL Go links directly in an email with the click of a button. It’s a simple process that fits within traditional workflows.
With partnerships with the State Bars of states such as Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, and Georgia, it’s fair to say the legal community sees the unique value proposition AXEL Go offers.
According to a 2021 survey by ALM, 56% of legal teams consider “data privacy and security” as their primary focus for 2021. It makes sense when you understand the high probability of attempted hacks and data breaches every firm faces today. Don’t just wait around waiting for the inevitable. Be proactive and protect your most sensitive information with AXEL Go.
If you’re interested in seeing it in action, you can enjoy a completely unlocked trial of our Premium service for 14-days. Sign up today and see the AXEL Go difference for yourself.
 “How Many Hours A Week Does A Lawyer Work?”, careerigniter.com, https://www.careerigniter.com/questions/how-many-hours-a-week-does-a-lawyer-work/
 “What Do Legal Professionals Expect From 2021?”, Mitratech.com, 2021, https://mitratech.com/resource-hub/whitepapers/alm-survey-legal-tech-plans-2021/