The Power of the Connected Firm: Legal Executives Identify Technology as the Linchpin for Long-Term Viability

During our recent Advisory Board Meetings, we were fortunate to hear from more than 100 C-level leaders — including managing partners, CEOs, COOs, CIOs, CMOs, and CFOs — from the global law firm community. These industry leaders provided a wealth of cross-functional observations on opportunities emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects. Board members agreed that the pandemic landed on the legal community swiftly and decisively; no firms were spared the instantaneous paradigm shift, nor the resulting impact on technology requirements.

Advisory board members discussed a variety of critical issues, including the requirements around connecting professionals to necessary data, the transformation of manual work into automated processes, and the importance of focusing on strengthening existing client relationships. At Intapp, we focus on connecting processes and people with the best that technology offers. As firms pivot to a virtual business model, it’s the technology that holds it all together and — as our advisors agreed — firms that haven’t cleared the technology hurdles are in for a bumpy road ahead.

Necessity Breeds Adoption

In the past, firms shied away from game-changing technology investments because it all seemed too daunting and perilous; key concerns included risk management, data security, and compliance requirements stipulated in client contracts. Fast forward to the COVID-19 era, where technology has become the lifeline enabling a remote workforce.

Today, there is no room for resistance to adopting technology, because it’s impossible to do the job without it. Our advisors discussed the trend for employees — including those who were previously resistant — to uplevel their technology capabilities to meet the needs of the work-from-home moment. This tendency affords firms the opportunity to streamline operations and reduce costs over the long term, as staff members adjust to working remotely, perhaps permanently. Connected firms — now more than ever — need technologies and processes in place that ensure that their professionals have not only complete and seamless access to mission-critical data, but also streamlined workflows to provide the best insights to serve their clients.

 

Connectivity Requires the Cloud

The promise of the connected firm can only be fully delivered in the cloud, because migrating from on-premises software to secure cloud solutions provides the security required to support a remote or hybrid workforce. Although nobody knows for sure where the standard legal industry business model will land in the years ahead, our advisors are confident that there will be a comprehensive, industrywide reassessment of operational and capital expenditures — things like office space, equipment, and technology investments — that will incorporate key learnings from business-model experiments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reassessment Sparks Rethinking

In the risk-adverse legal industry, it takes a revolution — not an evolution — to spark rethinking. The truth is the COVID-19 pandemic recession has taken no prisoners; we’re all in this together. As firms and technology partners alike work through the logistics of the new normal together, it’s vitally important to engage in an open dialog about the challenges of building the right technology infrastructure required to support new ways of working. Our advisors confirm that most firms are more receptive to migrating workloads to the cloud as one of their primary solutions because they need cloud solutions in order to run hybrid offices — and they’re speeding up timelines to deploy cloud-based solutions to meet this need.

Strategic Thinking Builds Strength

Above all else, our advisors agreed that forward-thinking technology discussions are no longer taboo in the legal sector, and that firms are more open to building near-term roadmaps for adopting cutting-edge technology, including AI. Our advisors universally agreed that implementing a robust, forward-thinking technology strategy will drive growth, and — most urgently in the here and now — support the business agility, best-in-class client service, data security, and compliance requirements needed to both sustain a remote or hybrid workforce and maintain long-term competitive advantage.

Written by:

Cynthia Schmidt

Senior Director of Programs and Planning

Intapp

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