In a changing legal market — responding to a data-driven economy — companies and law firms often play it safe, look for the perfect solution and wait for the right moment to jumpstart innovation of legal workflows. Investing into technology requires some expenses and the return on investment is often difficult to predict. Clearly, legal technology acquisitions need to be carefully and strategically considered.
Study after study shows: strategic thinkers are found to be among the most highly effective leaders, and those organizations that look to the future and take well-managed risks are the ones that persevere and grow. Our team at InvestCEE helps apply this wisdom in legal innovation context.
Over the last couple years, we assisted several legal departments and law firms (in Central-Eastern Europe and beyond) to scope the legal technology market, test new tools and implement legaltech into their workflows. We have learnt from our client projects that any successful investment into legal technology requires organizations to:
- Have a strategy in place >> to ensure that the new toolkit is the best possible fit;
- Enable mindset change >> have a team in place responsible for change management; and
- Take action >> support pilot projects to test technology solutions.
While technology investments take several years (typically five years or longer), the reality is that the underlying change management process is never easy and so exiting or migrating to an alternative system too early is rarely cost-effective. Strategic thinking, careful planning and mindful implementation are therefore essential.
#1 Strategic Planning: Understanding Needs is Key to Investment Success
To scope the right legaltech tools with the fitting functionality, legal departments and law firms need to be clear about their organization’s actual needs. This knowledge is absolutely essential for deploying the new technology across the entire organization. Accordingly, any acquisition project should ideally start with a strategic session focusing on key requirements. Setting up key performance indicators (KPIs) for the legal department or a given legal workstream is also very much recommended — so that the change management team can later come back and measure success factors against the initial numbers. Strategy and good preparation are indeed essential.
As a first step, legal departments and law firms that consider investing into legaltech need to properly document the actual problems they aim to fix with technology. These challenges and practical requirements (like legal KPIs) are often hard to collect, and collaborating with external consultants comes handy. While consultants are not the only way to tackle the preparation phase of investment, we often see that internal employees have limited capacity to deal with such a detail-oriented process.
It takes time, but also a good understanding of the legal workstreams and business processes to conduct a needs assessment. Additional time and effort is then required to summarize the results into an insightful report that can provide the basis for the legaltech investments and the change management process to follow.
Our way of working typically includes a preliminary needs assessment, process mapping of integration opportunities and guidance with implementation with step-plans. The completed documentation may then be used as a basis for your legaltech strategy going forward.