How do you evaluate your tech partnerships?
For the past three years Bloomberg Law has conducted surveys to understand the key trends in legal operations and legal technology. One of the prominent findings in the 2022 survey is the shifting priorities by which firms and in-house teams measure the value of their legal technology.
Legal technology represents a significant investment and a significant ability to add value. As firms and in-house teams look to reduce spend in 2023, taking a strategic approach to purchasing and measuring the success of legal technology is imperative.
Bloomberg notes in their survey findings that only 33% of the 190 survey respondents have a formal process in place to measure the value of their legal technology.
For firms and in-house teams, the choice of a legal technology provider should not be taken lightly. We’re sharing some things to consider in your legal technology partnerships to ensure you’re finding the right partner to align with your legal team’s goals.
In the acquisition process
When selecting a vendor, the cost goes beyond licensing or professional services fees. The cost to select a vendor, acquire a technology partner, implement the software (including any hardware upgrades), and hire specialized personnel or train existing staff on how to properly utilize it all should be considered. When looking at the total investment, getting it wrong is costly in dollars and in work hours. Some things to consider in your decision-making process:
- What is the cost of the project? Whether it is software cost, hardware upgrade cost, professional services, for a term or for a singular project engagement, understanding how the spend impacts your budget is a top consideration.
- How much training is needed? Is this technology easily grasped by your staff or is training necessary? Can your current staff conduct the training or is outside help needed? Will you need to hire specialized staff to manage this software once it has been implemented?
- What savings can be expected? After the project is launched, how much more cost efficient is this solution vs. the old process? How quickly can this savings recoup the initial investment and what is the total Return on Investment (ROI) of bringing this technology on board?
Once the new tech is running
After installing legal technology and putting it into use, you’ll need to measure how well it’s performing vs. expectations. Key performance indicators should align with the goal your organization hoped to achieve when deciding to launch the technology project.
The Bloomberg Law study illustrates how priorities for firms and in-house teams have changed over the past few years and as the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved.
In 2020, the top measures of legal tech value were reduced attorney time on routine tasks (chosen by 56% of all respondents), attorney and staff feedback (47%), increased attorney time on more sophisticated matters (36%), and increased profitability on routine tasks under alternative fee arrangements (26%). But about one-fifth of respondents (21%) said they did not measure the value of their legal tech in any way.
In 2021, the effects of the pandemic were clearly reflected in the study results. The top measure of legal tech value was whether the technology allowed for remote work (56%) and increased attorney well-being was the fifth-ranked measure at 26%. Reduced attorney time on routine tasks fell to the No. 2 spot but was chosen by 55% of respondents, followed by attorney and staff feedback on the use of legal tech (33%) and increased attorney time on more sophisticated matters (32%).
This year, the economy took top billing. Cost of legal technology (45%) was the No. 1 measure for the value of legal tech, followed by attorney and staff feedback (35%). But this year, 27% of respondents said they didn’t know how their organization measured the value of their legal technology.
Whatever your organization’s priorities, there are objective (reduced attorney time on routine tasks, increased attorney time on more sophisticated matters) and subjective (attorney and staff feedback) ways to calculate value. Ensure that your company has measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place so that you don’t fall into the bucket of respondents who have no idea, or choose not to know, what their legal technology is worth.
Invest in the partnership
Because the benefits of legal technology will increase over time, look for a service provider partner who will provide support through the implementation process and beyond.
- Do they provide custom solutions, not just out-of-the-box software? Will your partner take the time to listen to your firm’s unique challenges and create a comprehensive action plan rather than just sell you a product?
- Will they respond quickly to questions or issues? Attorneys and staff won’t save time or use the product if they’re always trying to reach the provider to get an answer about a problem.
- Can they provide relevant metrics that show value? Look for a provider that will become a partner—seeking to achieve the same goals as your organization.