The majority of articles on legal innovation concerns what lawyers must do to survive in an increasingly competitive market. Those texts call for new company structures, tech-savvier lawyers, better business models, improved working habits, and more focus on client satisfaction. But what about the other end of legal innovation? What must the legal tech providers do in order to future-proof their businesses and stay on top of the booming legal tech market?
Of course, legal tech providers should be as customer-centric as all other 21st century professionals. Legal tech products should be shaped with the expertise of the lawyers that are going to work with them, just as legal services should be formed by the demand of legal consumers. In order to create such products, the legal tech providers must have a good understanding of what lawyers want from their legal tech products. To support the accelerating legal innovation movement, Legal Tech Weekly has sought to provide such answers. We have asked 8 Nordic law firms what they are looking for in new legal tech solutions and what parameters determine their choice of provider
All the answers are gathered below, we can identify some interesting trends.
- Law firms focus a lot on cybersecurity and data privacy. Especially when the solutions involve their clients. They are looking for safe bets rather than the newest, hottest and most innovative shiny thing.
- Law firms pay attention to the company behind the product. They want to know that those companies are stable, experienced, trustworthy and profitable. That is bad news for startups and good news for the more established companies.
- Law firms want their legal tech solutions to be simple and easy to implement. Changing habits is difficult, so there must be as little friction in the implementation phase as possible. That means legal tech solutions should also be able to communicate with other solutions.
- Law firms want their legal tech providers to be active collaborators and offer lots of support.
- Money does not seem to be that big of an issue.
What are lawyers looking for in legal tech products?
Our aim is to provide high-quality services more efficiently through modern technology. We also believe we can offer new types of services based on new technology. To be competitive it is important that we are able to interact seamlessly with clients and between our offices in different cities. The solutions we chose must enable us to work in the most efficient manner, help us offer new solutions to our clients and provide us with the extra muscles to perform at the highest level. High level of functionality, easy integration with other systems, user-friendly programs, innovative solutions and real efficiency gain are paramount for us. We believe that cost is a factor for the clients and to maintain a sensible cost level it is important that we – as well as our suppliers – provide value for money. Cost-effective and scalable solutions are very important in that regard as that enables us to expand in a sustainable manner. The solutions must also provide real day to day improvement for our lawyers and clients. We do not use tech just for the sake of using tech. An open API to integrate different systems is important and provides flexibility when choosing IT-solutions. And last but not least, being a firm without our own IT-department – high-quality customer support is vital!
Lars Kristian Myklebust & Petter Sverstad Eriksen, Partners in Hammervoll Pind.
There are now hundreds of companies in the legal tech market, and new start-ups are popping up every week. When choosing our next legal tech solution, we look for several qualities in both the provider and the solution itself. When considering new solutions, we look for something new, ideally future proof, and definitely solutions that are secure and client centric. We look for tech providers who want to work with us and collaborate on our projects. We want them to challenge our status quo and inspire us to generate new ideas and ways of working. It is also important to us, that tech providers are open to integrate their products with our existing suite of solutions as well as building new integrations to help us improve efficiency and client experience.
Trine Melsether, Chief Digital Officer in Thommessen.
Vinge is a full-service law firm and we are using many different tools in various stages. We mainly focus on automation but we are also looking into artificial intelligence and machine learning. Overall, we look for tools that creates client value and makes us more efficient. Choosing a new legal tech-solution is not very different from when we are buying other software or IT-solutions. We look at the company behind, the size, whether it's stable, profitable etc or not. Because if the solution is going to be business-critical, then we need a company that can deliver in a stable and secure way and support us at any time. We are not only looking for products that can match our current needs. We also asses their roadmaps, which direction the company and the solutions are going. A supplier must also be able to understand our needs, so we will rather want a business partner than just a tech provider.
Ann-Marie Ovin, CIO in Vinge.
At Delphi, we are constantly working on streamlining our internal processes and how we deliver our services, in order to create added value for our clients, so focus is both on internal and external innovation. In general, we have discovered that it's important that the legal tech solutions we procure are user friendly and easy to adopt. There is a learning curve when you start working with new products, so it must be easy for our users to get started. We don't want too much onboarding and too many manuals. Additionally, we expect really good support, preferably including a client success manager who is following up and is available to answer any questions that might come up. That will guarantee that users of the solution don’t drop off during the trials. The solutions should also be easy to deploy; they should integrate with other systems to prevent silos, and it shouldn't take too much internal support from our IT-department to implement them. Then, of course, security and GDPR-compliance are high priority requirements as we handle very confidential client data.
Sophia Lagerholm, Head of Digital & Innovation in Delphi.
“We are searching for innovative, cutting-edge solutions that streamline our lawyers’ work with the purpose of enhancing the client experience. It is crucial for legal tech providers to understand the structure of the legal industry, the challenges we face every day, and how different legal teams have different needs which have to be specifically addressed. For example the needs and preferences of an M&A lawyer are very different from those of a litigation lawyer. Excellent legal tech providers and law firms have the opportunity to create true long-term partnerships, whereby they can resolve problems together and further develop their legal tech tools. This means being proactive, not promising more than one can deliver, and having a good support department. It also means working together to combine the providers technical skills with law firms’ legal knowledge and the industry practice. For us at Hannes Snellman, an essential aspect when working with legal tech providers is security. We handle confidential data, so secure servers and cloud services are a must-have. Therefore, Hannes Snellman is always searching not only for disruptive and innovative tech solutions but also for experienced legal tech providers who have a vast understanding of the legal industry and who want to collaborate to take their solutions to the next level”
Sandra Thoresson, Knowledge manager in Hannes Snellmann.
IUNO & Works
In recent years, we have focused on tech-solutions that would improve the way we deliver our legal services, either by making them better, cheaper or faster. Now, we are becoming more product-oriented when it comes to tech-solutions. Our customers increasingly require more insight, overview and transparency, and so we look for solutions where we can easily provide overview, real time reporting and collaborate with the clients. The customers don't expect these services to come at an extra costs, so we look for tech-solutions with few or low investment expenses and a low entry-barrier. Time is money, so the more plug-and-play the solution is for us and for our employees the better. We prefer solutions that function on existing platforms, if possible, to avoid interfaces. At the same time, we do tend to favor tech-solutions that are best in class and solve one issue only, rather than all-in-one solutions. Earlier we were more willing to find solutions that where new, but now we tend to favor tested solutions and market. The success rate is just better if the solution is well-tested, so we have become more cynical as we know how big an effort it takes to implement and integrate a new solution.
Anders Etgen Reitz, Partner in IUNO & Works.
Lund Elmer Sandager
“We are always searching for flexible and applicable solutions. They must be easy to approach and not require a comprehensive onboarding setup, so it is important for us that they are not overcomplicated systems that do everything. I rather prefer a system that does 90 % and has a button less, if it is stable and approachable. Especially if the system is also used by our clients. We are also looking at the track-records of the provider; their financial status, their position in the market and their reputation. We want to make sure that we can also expect support in the future. Then, of course, there is GDPR and data privacy. We must be able to look our clients in the eyes and ensure them that their data is handled with confidentiality. “
Torsten Hylleberg, Partner in Lund Elmer Sandager.
As a base line, legal tech will either need to provide a service which is able to replace or improve work already done by lawyers, or do something that lawyers are not capable of providing. For example, DLA Piper has developed a tool called Notify which is able to assess the risk level of personal data breaches which must be reported under the GDPR. One thing the tools is able to provide is an objective assessment based on the facts of the breach, rather than a subjective assessment done by a natural person. The tool will provide a consistent approach to risk assessment and deliver the same result irrespectively of which lawyer is doing the assessment, what time of the day the assessment is performed or whether the lawyer has a close relationship with the client. When we purchase or develop new tools we focus on giving the clients a better product and making sure that the tools are adding value to our services. This approach is receiving good feedback from clients and business partners, especially with respect to tools as Explore the GDPR, Data Privacy Scorebox, Data Protection of the World.
Marlene Winther Plas, IT-lawyer in DLA Piper, Denmark.