Skip to content

5 Questions to Consider when Innovating in Legal Tech


The innovation space in legal operations is operating at light speed.  With advancements in business intelligence, information governance, program management and more, it is easy to feel lost and overwhelmed by all of the available options. 

Answering 5 Common Legal Tech Questions

As you move forward with your own legal transformation initiatives, here are five questions to consider.

1. What should be in my tech stack? 

It used to be just email, a ton of Word documents, and a couple of spreadsheets to manage everything. 

Then there was a shared drive and some intranet pages. 

You added a knowledge management system and are looking at CLM products. At the same time, your group is still getting used to Slack or Teams. And of course, everyone relies on video teleconferencing software. 

Woman working on computer

There are so many other solutions out there to consider to move forward. How does it all add up? 

How to start organizing your tech stack

It is important to start where you are. Draw a simple stick diagram of your current tech stack and see if you can label each of the systems based on who uses it, for what purpose, and what it contains. 

Then, review the following:

  • Are there any duplicates? 
  • What is missing? 
  • Can you draw circles around the systems that integrate and work well together? 
  • Can you color in those systems that get the most use? The least use? 
  • Can your team easily analyze business data in a centralized way or do they have to gather data piecemeal from different systems? 

Before you add anything else, reviewing what your team actually uses will prevent adding more tech that falls by the wayside or integrates into systems your team doesn’t touch. 

Understanding each of their functions will also help prevent buying duplicative technology that may bring a small amount of efficiency but at a large cost if no one will use it. 

Group of coworkers working

Filling in tech stack gaps

If this gets overwhelming, think about what your legal and operations team members do each day. Generally, you can categorize the work and technology they use as either external facing or internal facing. Then break it down into three simple categories:

  1. Creating a smooth client experience (external linking tech)
    • This could include: email, video conferencing, scheduling, shared and secure virtual workspaces/portals, chat automation, billing management, outside counsel management
  2. Enhancing internal workflows (internal tech)
    • This could include: process automation, matter management, contract lifecycle management, knowledge management, legal research tools, document  management automation / AI, e-discovery tools, records management
  3. Building efficiency in legal operations (internal tech)
    • This could include: Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems and operations systems including HR/recruiting, facilities, and technology management systems.

2. Should we build our own tech solutions or buy ones from the marketplace?

Some organizations have the luxury of developers on hand and teams that can build technology solutions in-house. Those organizations would rather build their own solutions than purchase off-the-shelf or customized systems and software for fear that updates will be costly or the system becomes out of date quickly. 

There are also beliefs that either the system can’t be customized to the needs of the organization or that customizing the system so much will create headaches down the road for support and updates. 

The Problem with Homegrown Solutions

Unfortunately, many organizations that choose to build their own solutions end up spending more time and money than if they had contracted with an outside provider. 

When solutions are developed for a specific purpose, they tend to become outdated very quickly. What’s more, homegrown solutions can continue to be highly dependent on the development team or even a specific developer after the go-live date.  This could come in the form of frequent updates and working out bugs. 

If the developer leaves the organization, then much of the institutional knowledge behind the technology goes too. 

Why You Shouldn’t Fear ‘Off-the-Shelf’ Software

Buying and implementing a legal tech solution doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Many of the available systems are designed to be customized in a variety of ways that are common to the legal industry. They may even build on software your organization already uses. 

Purchasing a widely used product means that updates from the developer reflect the latest innovations across the industry, and it enables the ability to get support from a variety of sources. Look into the details of a few technical solutions before you decide to grow a new solution in-house. 

For instance, consider AdvoLogix® Enterprise Legal Management, built on the Salesforce platform. Advologix allows you to attain efficiency, transparency, and control over all legal matters – from intake to settlement – across all legal operational domains. 

Advologix can easily be customized to your legal operationsall with “clicks, not code”saving you both money and time. There are also numerous other pre-built solutions available on the Salesforce AppExchange that can blend seamlessly with your legal operations data.

3. My current technology provides all kinds of data….now what?

Using the latest technology means that you’ll be able to deliver data like never before

You can quickly run a report on things like:

  • Outside counsel / vendor spend
  • A drill down into timekeeper details
  • How much is left in this month’s budget

The availability to slice and dice the data knows no bounds. But what are you doing with this data? 

Essentially, data is information. Too much information can be overwhelmingor even distractingif the numbers aren’t providing you with key insights into your organization’s performance. 

And it’s easy to miss the opportunity to then translate this information into process or procedural changes which can innovate how your team performs. 

Consider returning to your organization’s main metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs):  

  • Where can you find and isolate those in the data across your systems? 
  • How can you report those (and just those) data points regularly to leadership? 
  • Most importantly, how can you use that data to better improve the organization? 

Running quarterly reports on outside counsel spend is one thing. Using that data to provide feedback to your managing attorneys about which firms are abiding by your billing practicesand which are notis another. 

Find and use the data as a feedback loop to improve performance and streamline operations.

Office scene of employees working

4. How do I get my team to actually use the technology?

Many industries face user adoption challenges, and the legal market is no exception. Lawyers who have been keeping daily time sheets on paper for years are not likely to embrace new methods immediately. 

Here are three approaches to use for better user adoption:

Get User Feedback

First, spend a lot of time early in the process asking your users what they want. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and even sit with users individually and ask them about their pain points that you know technology will help. Watch them work. Learn about the work arounds they have concocted. 

Communicate Regularly

Second, communicate with your users at every step of the way. Communicate the findings of what you heard your users want. Communicate the implementation schedule. Be open and honest about any hiccups in the process. Give them resources to find out more information and talk to someone about their questions both publicly and privately.

Have a Plan for Low Adoption

Third, be patient. Don’t expect change overnight. In fact, make a plan that when you shift to the new software a certain percentage of your team won’t use it at all, another percentage will only use it partially, and another percentage will be full adopters. Understanding and planning for adoption over time will help the whole team get there faster.

5. Why should I work with consultants?

At Hike2, we like getting outdoors. Let’s say you wanted to go camping. 

You’d go to a store and buy a tent. Likely, the tent has lots of features you need and even more that you don’t. 

The store clerk didn’t ask if you’d be backpacking with the tent and, unfortunately, the tent is way too heavy to carry long distances. You go to set up the tent but it is a tangled mix of poles, there’s a rain cover you have no idea how to put on, the tent is trying to blow away, and you realize it isn’t big enough to hold your people and gear.

Are you camping? Yes. 

Are you going to go camping again? No. 

We think of consultants as guides throughout your process. The first step is sitting with you and your team to evaluate your needs, both what you know you need and even opportunities that you don’t know about yet. 

We make sure you have the right gear suited for your specific journey. And as consultants independent from one specific solution, we can recommend what is best for you, not just what we have in stock at our store. 

Next, consultants implement the solutions, providing strategy, training, and communication to ensure your journey is a success. We help you set up the tent and show you how to use it. We’re there when it rains or the food slides into a puddle, helping you through the difficult parts of the journey.

You can try to rely on advice from a range of individuals: the person at the camping store, a park ranger, the friendly hiker you pass on the way to the campsite. The problem is that none of those people understand your journey, your experience, and your goals. 

Consultants understand your business case for innovation, the legal industry, and the leading technology involved – the type of knowledge that can’t be handed off from one person to another. Having a consistent guide through the process mitigates any risk that the project will fail (or the tent falls on your head).