Legal Technology: looking past the hype

Legal Technology: looking past the hype

On 25 September 2018, a group of in-house leaders and thinkers came together at the Law Society to discuss how technology can drive return on investment (ROI) for in-house legal teams. It was an opportunity for LexisNexis to facilitate a roundtable discussion and present some of the key findings from their latest research report – Legal Technology: looking past the hype.

Maya Hodroj, Market Development Director for In-house at LexisNexis kicked off the session by outlining the genesis of the report. Despite great width of coverage on technology and in-house teams, it was discovered that the depth of coverage, particularly in the context of actual deployment of tech, was quite poor. To fill that gap, LexisNexis embarked on the largest survey on the usage and implementation of legal in-house tech in the United Kingdom – we spoke with over 130 UK lawyers.

What were the key findings from the report

Before opening the event to explore the collective wisdom and experience of people in the room, the key findings of the reports were outlined. Here are just some of the key highlights:

  • Low usage of legal technology is driving a mix of disillusionment and “wait and see” attitudes
  • The most important first step in selecting the right technology is to map your processes and to understand pain-points (see below section on design thinking)
  • The highest usage across the different types of technology were for: legal research, contract management and matter management

A wide variety of experiences – often driven by industry

In the room, a clear variety of experiences emerged immediately. Some in-house lawyers came from agile, lean and forward-thinking team; some came from older, traditional and more complex organisations. These differing backgrounds drove quite different experiences in the selection, implementation and successful deployment of legal technology. Many found it a tough, drawn-out process requiring lengthy stages of procurement, engagements and deployment. Others had more nimble teams with capability to deploy quite rapidly – unsurprisingly these were often technology companies.

What’s being deployed

There was a small working consensus on the importance of tech to remove the bottom five to ten percent of people’s work – the administrative burden of tasks, such as billing. Even though this can be viewed as a minor change, it was discussed that this can result in the productivity increase ranging from five to twenty percent for in-house lawyers. In our research report, we found the highest usage across the different types of tech were for: legal research, contract managements and matter management. While e-billing was used by only 27% of the people we spoke with, the potential impact of such tech was flagged by most large organisations, given the ability to quickly demonstrate RoI by negotiating lower bills with law firms. This is in addition to the added benefit of the data it provides legal teams access to.

How to deploy effectively

A key insight emerged that for the deployment of tech to be successful – it usually requires a team of supporters, all at different levels of seniority. Not bottom up, not top down, but at each level. Otherwise the technology can often “die on the vine”. This fed into the wider theme for effective deployments – it’s often much more about change management than it is about the technology. This reflects some of our previous thinking on the deployment of technology.

Design thinking workshop – mapping processes and identifying the pain-points

The evening took on an interactive element where the participants were given a brief overview of design thinking and an introduction into “event storming”. This session was led by LexisNexis experts: Darci Dutcher, Head of UX and Matt Wardle, Principle UX Designer. This is a very discrete part of the design thinking but one amenable to a workshop and more importantly, one which helps users to address two key recommendations from the report:

  • Map our processes
  • Identify the pain-points (and also, what’s actually working well already!)

Looking at the lifecycle of customer contract management, participants enthusiastically joined in and it wasn’t long before a number of different consensuses arose around what is difficult and what is smooth. This process allowed users to quickly see a snapshot of the utility of design thinking and the clear application in the legal technology space.

The key lessons learned

Out of the research report, there were five items distilled as a checklist for success:

  1. Remove ambiguity
  2. Start with the problems
  3. Make time to innovate
  4. Use multi-disciplinary teams
  5. Select partners well

Further reading

Read our latest research report – Legal Technology: looking past the hype.

Related Articles:
Latest Articles:
About the author:
Mark is one of the Dispute Resolution blog’s technical editors. He qualified as a lawyer in Australia and worked in private practice before joining LexisNexis. In addition to contributing to the Dispute Resolution blog, he also writes for a number of LexisNexis blogs, including the Future of Law blog.