Opinions and Legal Insights

Armstrong Watson interview Allan Carton on Management, Legal Tech and Client Relationships.

What do you see as the key developments in the legal profession right now?

In our areas of working with law firms on
developing new business opportunities, the overriding picture I see is the
emergence of some law firms that are more capable of differentiating themselves
from their competitors than others. Key
factors helping them to do that include:

a) Sound,
professional management,

which is making a difference where it’s been allowed
to settle in, allowing time to take a step back to take stock of the business,
clients, service, how people are managed, how technology is being used and the
rest; and then being pro-active and persistent to introduce improvements.

b) The
potential of technology

to let lawyers and their clients work and communicate
more effectively and move to a digital (paper-lite) environment. The tools enabling this are increasingly
user-friendly and intuitive to use either in the office or on the move,
allowing people to work more flexibly.

c) Increasing
demand from clients for more of what they value

in a legal service, however
difficult that may be to define.

d) More
law firms developing within a more corporate structur

e, increasingly supported by
external investment. To warrant
investment, a legal business needs to be able to sell a sound business strategy
and infrastructure.

e) Responding
to more proactive procurement

of legal services by in-house legal and general
counsel who have an increasingly clear agenda on the requirements they want
their firms to meet, so there are some very clear targets to hit.

f) Recognition
that the need to build a culture

where the lawyers are inquisitive and innovative enough
to develop and harness these new opportunities is increasingly critical. The firms that haven’t got there yet need to
catch up.

What new technology is now available in the legal sector?

There’s a lot of talk about AI (Artificial
Intelligence) but

most firms still need to get the basics in place

to establish
a platform for the future.

Hosting in a
private or public cloud (e.g.

Microsoft Azure

environment should be considered seriously as an option

now to ease management,
improve security and create flexibility.
Microsoft Office 365
should be considered (




versions) alongside your practice and case management systems to
give access to a wide array of additional applications and tools.

In developing new business, most of the best
opportunities lie in the client and contact database, but the information here
on the people and the firm’s relationships is usually incomplete or outdated. Lawyers just don’t have time to constantly
update this information as a matter of routine, which is why CRM systems have
often failed. You should consider using


centralise, cleanse and automate the reliable capture, enrichment and update of
that information going forwards. It is
the piece that has been missing from CRM systems in the past.

How is technology changing the way that lawyers work?

Well, it’s not just about the lawyers. Thinking about what I see happening right now,
but not in anything like enough firms yet –

moving to a hosted or managed
environment can release the IT people to find the time to set up systems that
make it easier for lawyers to work

more efficiently. They can spend time
configuring not just workflows in a case management system, but also tools in
Office 365 like Teams (collaboration), Power BI (management reporting), Skype
(online meetings), Security & Compliance (GDPR) and much more.

There is much that can be done to improve
engagement with clients. For example,
more use of speech recognition integrated with case management releases time
for secretaries to let them become “client managers”. Reliable automated capture and enrichment of
contact and relationship information provides more time and ammunition to let
lawyers focus on client relationships; not just doing the work.

Building relationships with clients makes the
job of any lawyer much more enjoyable.

What are your top tips for law firms?


Get professional management in place

, support
them and try not to interfere/inhibit them too much.


Review your technology platform

to decide how
you can improve that to deliver the business you want to be in 5 years’ time.


Get and keep your client data up to date

so that
you can be pro-active in developing your relationships. That will make you stand out.


Let your people spend more time talking to clients

about their world.

To discuss and explore any of the points mentioned in this interview

, contact Allan on 07779 653105 or at acarton@inpractice.co.uk There is also an option to

schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation here


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