The digital maturity of legal, where is your law firm or in-house team?
Over the last four years, it has been seen how the legal market is evolving towards full digitisation. Legal services, based primarily on information and its treatment, are susceptible to improvement through knowledge technologies, which exponentially enhance efficiency, effectiveness and the way in which the service is provided to clients. Society and customers in the second decade of the 21st century are not the same as they were ten years ago.
The eruption of new mature digital businesses (Google, Amazon, Facebook, …) are changing the customs and expectations of customers, additionally, new ways of doing business emerge, new “players” primarily marked by a culture, organisation and media natively technological (in this group we can find startups, LegalTech providers or native technological businesses that want to break into the legal sector).
All this means that traditional legal service providers such as independent lawyers, law firms or in-house lawyers have to make an effort to change or, in other words, to transform the business culture, towards the survival of their business. through knowledge technologies
Digitalisation is not just about technology, its about people, it is a change in business and organisational culture. In order to establish the long and short term strategies for this digital maturity, firms must know where they are in terms of their digital maturity. According to Peter High, a digitalisation expert, there are four stages of digital business maturity: in digital evolution, digitally active, digitally competent, and digitally mature. In the following paragraphs we will describe the four stages in a form applied to legal services.
The first of the digitalisation stages, called “in digital evolution”, is related to digital marketing or digital presence. It is about the ability of legal businesses to interact with clients through digital means such as the website, social media strategy, advertise through digital means or use email or similar tools to communicate with clients, among others. A large part of law firms already carry out this type of digital marketing strategies, but really because it is a necessity to stay in the market, not as a feature that stands out as a business above other similar law firms.
Digitally active businesses are in the next stage of maturity. These businesses use digital customer transactions to increase revenue. To do this, they proceed to make changes in their operational processes through the incorporation of agile methodologies in their product developments as well as the use of basic metrics and process automation. This is the stage in which some legal businesses called “New Law” could be cataloged, as well as those Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALPS) with the technology incorporated from the beginning.
If we specify what digitally active businesses consist of in legal services, we must specify the importance of identifying “Legal Operations” of both law firms and legal advisory services, this allows it to be implemented, in teams previously identified, the use of agile methodologies such as Scrum or Kanban, mainly to elaborate the development of software to manage transactions with clients. These developments can be carried out for all kinds of relational processes with clients, from invoicing (e-billing) to the provision of strictly legal services such as litigation, for example.
The next stage of digital maturity would be digitally competitive business. These businesses not only use digital customer transactions to increase revenue, but are also able, through technology, to forecast future business needs, as well as respond to current gaps. According to Peter High, harmonising the digital operating model, predictive analytics, and microservices architecture enables these businesses to access customer expectations and feedback and, businesses to turn them into solutions that deliver more revenue. At this stage, digitally competitive businesses use AI and Big Data to improve strategic decisions.
Digitally competitive legal businesses are simply yet to come. The possibility of incorporating predictive analysis of customer behaviours as well as responding to gaps in processes, in the legal sector, can come hand in hand with process automation workflows that, as a competition to robotic process automation ( RPA), can work through APIs and interconnect different sources of information and structure it in a single dashboard to monitor customer behaviour as well as establishing rules for cases where there is a “gap” in the services.
In the last category of digital business maturity are mature digital businesses. These businesses have a main perspective based on the embedding of artificial intelligence solutions or the latest technology in their services. These businesses adapt to any type of channel and they create new channels for their products and services. Customer data allows opening to new businesses and organisational flexibility the possibility of carrying them out. All channels provide a similar experience.
From our point of view, digital businesses such as Amazon or Facebook can carry out this type of digitally native strategies using their resources, however, the course that traditional law firms will take in their immersion in digitisation remains to be seen.