New Tricks: How Can We Teach Lawyers To Adopt Tech?
By Karen Taylor, Last updated: 2021-09-23 (originally published on 2019-05-20)
I have a foster dog from HKDR – she is lovely. We took her in as an emergency foster dog after she had a very complicated double knee surgery and needed a proper home to recuperate. Of course she has never left (eight months later) and I am now extremely attached to her and she is extremely attached to me. However, not everyone in my domestic user community is as enthusiastic. She can’t go running or hiking with daddy due to her knees, and as a nine year old lady (yes, middle-aged with dodgy joints – I can sympathise!) who spent almost her entire life in a shelter, she is not a playful puppy. Cost Centres 1,2,3 (a.k.a the children) think she is a bit boring and they are extremely jealous because dog loves mummy more than them!
This got me thinking about adoption – as you do – and to the struggle many law firms struggle with technology adoption. Even after long evaluations, trials and significant financial investment, many tech-enabled solutions in law firms never really take off.
Over the years, I’ve been astounded at the lack of adoption within law firms. Even if you successfully get through the complex approval process and make the sale, there’s a good chance the party stops there and everyone just goes back to doing things the way they always have. This impacts clients, frustrates younger generations of lawyers, wastes partner money, and impacts providers because no adoption means no renewals.
“This impacts clients, frustrates younger generations of lawyers, wastes partner money, and impacts providers because no adoption means no renewals.”
Back in the day, I would often meet lawyers at conferences and would be having a lovely chat about my company’s solutions and the benefits they could bring. Many times people would gaze wistfully into the middle distance and say “that sounds fantastic – I wish we had something like that at my firm” and I would say “You do! You are already our client!”.
Of course I would follow up and discover that the solution had never been rolled out. Or everyone was given a user name and password, but no training. No explanation of the benefits, the efficiency, the risk reduction, the potential to offer a better service to clients at a more competitive rate…
The Questions That Need Answering To Find A Solution
Naturally any change, any new solution will have some champions and enthusiastic adopters, a broad middle (yep got one of those to go along with the dodgy joints) and a few die hard ‘you will take my quill pen out of my cold dead hands’ types. But this does not explain the vast swathe of potential users who either don’t even know what they have or don’t know how to use it. How and why does this happen? I know it drives Knowledge Managers and CIOs up the wall. So what happens between purchase and adoption? Is everyone just too busy for training? What are we missing?
Do old habits die hard and partners would just rather send the new kids up to the High Court library for a day to photocopy a few cases, highlight the fun parts in yellow and leave a stack of papers (aka a ‘research report’) on their desk? Do clients not care?
If we return to the adopted dog analogy, how do we help lawyers truly embrace technology rather than just embrace the idea, foster it for a little while, then send it back to the shelter for unloved solutions?
What have your experiences been? Are you rocking up to conferences to chat about AI, blockchain and legal service delivery then going back to a desk stacked with paper and popping Benadryl for your dust allergy?
Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Please send your answers here: (or pop them on a postcard if you’re one of those old dogs.)
Karen Taylor studied law before moving into legal ‘publishing’, as it was known back in the day when people still read books, and has since spent over twenty years in the legal tech industry in Europe and Asia. Karen currently manages the Asia Pacific region for Anaqua Inc., a global provider of Intellectual Property management solutions and services and enjoys terrifying youngsters with tales of contract drafting software on floppy disks and CD-ROMs of searchable case data. Karen lives in Hong Kong with her husband, three kids and rescue dog. In her spare time she enjoys doing as little as possible, reading, and exploring and photographing the sights and sounds of the city.
All opinions, half-baked theories and attempts at humour are the author’s own.
This article does not constitute legal advice.