Inertia, apathy, and fear are very common reasons why law firms don’t use or change software. Many assume that having managed with one process or system, there’s no need for another. Some aren’t prepared for what they assume is a very risky migration. Some have had such negative experiences with vendors and procurement that they vow never to repeat the exercise.
Fortunately, legal teams can tackle all of those concerns. Here is why you should think carefully about your software needs, and how to address the most common fears that firms have when thinking about a switch.
A momentous change
A lot of firms’ systems are deeply entrenched. Often they have legacy software that long-standing teams have always used, or that newer staff have inherited. Because of its longevity, its flaws are shrugged off because everyone is accustomed to them. Staff accept them as a fact of legal life — ‘that’s just how it is’. Some firms, of course, don’t have practice management or case management software in the first place, which creates the same hesitance as a legacy system — ‘we’ve managed so far’.
In truth, both make perfect sense. Changing or introducing management software is an enormous step, and a long-standing system (or long-standing lack of one) is in a way part of a firm’s heritage. There’s an authority to it — it would feel like uprooting something deep and fundamental.
Perhaps also, lawyers aren’t interested in things like management software because it’s just not inspiring to them. Their vocation is law, and the commercial aspects of running a firm aren’t what motivate them. That said, that’s precisely why the change needs to happen. Management software automates and smooths so many of the tedious administrative tasks associated with running a firm, which allows fee-earners more time to do what they do best — practise law.
Download our guide and learn how software can help lawyers spend more time on law and less time on admin.
Another legitimate concern is data migration, the main fears being data loss, disruption, and cost. Data being such a precious asset, if anything were to go wrong, the firm is not only vulnerable to operational turmoil, it could be in breach of any number of regulations. That’s why you should ensure that any software provider:
- understands your data and how you use it
- invests time in the data migration so that disruption (which is inevitable) is minimised
- is transparent with pricing, with contract terms that can’t hold your data for ransom
Lack of procurement experience
Firms with well-established software, or none at all, will have little to no experience in software procurement. That can put a very early stop to any efforts to change, because the process can be overwhelming and tempting to abandon.
Software is something that many vendors choose to overcomplicate. The jargon of many software salespeople is confusing and intimidating. When you couple that with the bells and whistles that they needlessly add to a proposal, firms can find themselves with a collection of highly complex quotations, each with a suite of features that they may not understand or require, and conclude ‘better the devil you know’.
When starting procurement, it’s important to maintain two seemingly contradictory mindsets:
- Have a very clear idea of what you need
- Be willing to adapt your requirements based on research and consultation
The first is to guard against the scenario above, where unnecessary complexity sabotages the process. The second is to ensure you get the correct solution — a potential software partner with genuine expertise will ask questions to challenge your assumptions, and you may discover that what you need isn’t what you’d initially expected.
Poor experiences with software companies
Some of the negative experiences continue past procurement and into the working relationship. Common frustrations include:
- Lack of support
- Unexpected price increases
- Multi-year commitments
- The need for several pieces of software
All of the above can cause reluctance to seek yet another software provider, and that last point creates a series of compounding issues.
Firstly, it can multiply the irritation — if procurement is annoying, then having to do it several times is that much worse. Next, the various pieces of software may not interact effectively or at all, which means that not only is it difficult to manage workflows, but there’s also a danger of holding duplicate information with different levels of accuracy, whether by machine or human error. That’s not only harmful to efficiency, but also creates a host of compliance risks.
Thirdly, implementing multiple pieces of software involves multiple rounds of staff training, and a far longer process for staff to master the systems. Separate programmes will have idiosyncrasies with which users have to familiarise themselves, and with a series of new systems, that has to happen many times over.
The solution is an obvious one, which is to use a provider who provides support as standard, prices their solution transparently, offers a rolling contract without prohibitive upfront costs, and combines all practice management, case management, accounting, time recording, compliance, and billing in one piece of software.
Over 1000 law firms have switched to Insight Legal for that reason. To find out if ours is the software for your practice, book a no-obligation demo.