A recently convened group of IT executives from both Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments (CLDs) met at a luncheon hosted by Adaptive to discuss the latest trends in Legal IT. Of the many issues discussed, it seems there are several items that tend to keep them up at night. Here, I’ve summarized these items as well as some suggestions as to how to get a better night’s sleep.
Lack of Qualified Staff
Firms and CLDs are hiring! The problem is that there is not a lot of highly qualified talent with legal experience. Companies are appreciating and compensating their best people so they are incented to stay where they are. One solution is to find bright people who fit the corporate culture and then train them on the specific skills needed. Recent college graduates are a great source of new employees. The downside – you need to know your staffing needs well in advance because full ramp up takes anywhere from 6-12 months.
Too Many Initiatives
With technology changing so rapidly, attorneys want all the latest and greatest. The problem here is that there are only so many resources available – both time and money. Prioritization and setting expectations are key in this arena. Document Management Upgrades, Artificial Intelligence, Security and Cloud seem to be taking precedence this year. Make sure when budgeting to include software, hosting, implementation services, support and maintenance costs. Look to consultants to take some of the implementation load so your staff still has time for their day jobs. At a minimum, consultants can be used to help avoid costly mistakes and delays, allowing your team to become experts more quickly. Finally, make sure to have well defined goals and expectations before you agree to a project. Scope creep in current projects can derail even the best laid plans and schedules so assure that expectations are clear. Have a partner that insists on a pet project? Make sure it is clear what will not happen if that project gets prioritized.
Head in the Clouds
Should systems be moved to the cloud? According to our group, Document Management was the leading system under consideration for a move to the cloud. The cloud has always been a great solution for CLDs that do not get a lot of support from IT. It is now a main consideration for several of the largest law firms as well. Cloud moves are being spurred by the above problems – not enough qualified people to build and maintain systems and too many required upgrades. Cloud providers provide services that negate these concerns. Those choosing to stay on premise prefer the heightened levels of control and system access. A hybrid approach, maintaining control of systems, but putting them in Azure or other cloud environments seems to be a new approach striking a balance for many.
A clear conclusion from the round table is that sharing concerns with others in the industry, peers and consultants, can help banish the sheep and bring the sleep.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how our team can assist you as well as information on our next Think Tank luncheon.