Conflict Software: Brief Thoughts for Law Firms - By Stuart Poole

Some Brief Thoughts for Law Firms and Legal Technology Providers

The last few years have provided some interesting times for law firms as it pertains to technology. New or enhanced technology, products and services are being deployed by both existing legal technology providers and new providers that are just getting into the game. The demands of this changing environment along with downward pressures from clients to be more efficient and sophisticated make it vital that law firms have the best technology for their specific needs.

However, most firms do not have enough time or resources to thoroughly investigate their current technology capabilities and most technology service providers do not fully comprehend how law firms function at the micro levels of overarching processes. This is especially true for conflicts within law firms. New demands, emerging technology and the fading of a widely used conflict system, LegalKEY, have created a unique and potentially advantageous situation for both law firms and technology service providers. Below are some brief general thoughts for both:

Law Firm Outlook

With LegalKEY advancing toward its end of life, many law firms need to update or change their technology now. Listed below are a few suggested steps for firms considering a technology upgrade or migration:

1. Law firms should conduct an intensive audit of their current conflict processes and resources. This will allow leadership to understand the costs, capabilities and resources at work, while presenting options on how to become more efficient. Most firms may believe they are fully utilizing these items, but rarely are proactive adjustments made to realize the most valuable and beneficial mix of resources.

2. Law firms should use this audit to start planning for a future change in technology. This will provide firms with more details regarding their current position in order to build a solid process base for future changes.

3. Law firms should do extensive research on available technology and the companies that provide the technology and related services before requesting demonstrations. Once a firm has conducted an audit, made the immediate changes, and built a strategy plan for the future, it will need to do extensive research on all available technology. This can be an exhaustive process as there are many technology options and providers available. Since law firms have been historically slow to adapt to change, this research should be worth the time and effort as it will most likely be a long term decision.

The good news is that now is a great time to have a need for new technology, especially conflict software. The predicted migration of firms switching conflict software in 2016 and the growing number of technology providers should create opportunities for firms to have more flexibility with both pricing and contract terms. Opportunities and value should be further enhanced due to the technology vendors competing to win the clients previously held by LegalKEY.  Firms should be more proactive in 2016.

Legal Technology Provider Outlook

This can probably go without saying, but for conflict technology providers, the time is now to get in the game or further advance an already held position in this market. With LegalKEY being phased out in the very near future, a conflict software void is being created that will have to be filled. Current providers can strengthen their existing position by pursuing these opportunities. Newly formed legal technology providers will find opportunities in the market due to the immediate need for products and services.

All legal technology providers should already be aware that law firms do not routinely change conflict software. Providers have the advantage of knowing that the numerous law firms with LegalKEY have to make a change in the very near future. Business cannot be cleared and conducted within a law firm without going through the conflict process. Technology providers should seize this rare opportunity to bring in new or additional business in 2018.

This year will be an important year of transformation for both law firms and technology providers, especially within the legal conflict process space. Firms will be prudent to understand their current position in terms of costs, efficiency and utilization of resources. These should be the pillars used to build a strategy centered on their current and future technology needs and wants.

Technology providers would be wise to learn more about the internal workings of law firms drilled down to the smallest level. This will help providers to gain insight into how law firms think, plan and work. By understanding these traits, technology providers will be better equipped to meet the needs of law firms, generate greater value and reduce unnecessary confusion with their products and services.

Both firms and technology providers should look to partner with external experts who have worked at various levels within law firm risk management. This consultation will provide law firms with solutions, ideas, innovative thought, outside perspective, experience and insight. The experts can conduct the necessary research, evaluate and report on even the most minor functions of all technology options. An outside expert will provide technology providers with insight, explanations, ideas and solutions regarding the needs of law firms and how their infrastructure and management work, which will help providers improve service to their clients and to better understand how their clients think and function. If properly addressed in a timely fashion, the changing technology landscape can bring positive results with real value for both law firms and legal technology providers.

About the Author

Stuart Poole is a lead consultant for the GLC Legal Consulting Group. Stuart has had over 16 years of experience in the legal space. He is the founder and CEO of Fulcrum Legal Solutions, LLC, which provides solutions and strategies to law firms and other companies in the legal arena in the areas of conflicts, business intake and lateral integration.