The secret sauce to legal tech success: partnership
Legal tech implementation and adoption can sometimes fall flat of one’s expectations. Asure way to build a pathway to success is by establishing good internal and external relationships. These relationships will begin before purchase, be pertinent during implementation, and carry on afterward for long-term success.
If you are looking at a configurable Software as a Service (SaaS) provider to meet your legal tech needs, you should discuss internally what your expectations are, realizing that configurable is not the same as customizable and you may not be able to fully emulate your internal processes. Despite this, you will be able to implement more efficient systems that are in line with industry best practices.
Don’t purchase in a vacuum. Involve key stakeholders across any business units that may be impacted and will be asked to use this software. You want to ensure that you won’t further isolate the legal department. These internal discussions should be had upfront to prevent roadblocks down the line.
Prior to committing to a legal tech solution, you want to understand if it is the right fit for your legal team and organization. A sure way to do so is by asking questions regarding the level of support provided both during implementation and after. Do they provide new user training, live chat support with quick response times, and a dedicated customer success manager for strategic advice? Also, find out if there are hidden fees and how easy it will be for you to change configurations. Support from your legal tech partner should not be a frustration for your legal team so it’s important to weed out the ones who won’t actively support your pathway to success.
During internal discussions, come up with the problems you would like your legal tech to solve and be ready to discuss them with the tech provider. Consider what adoption will look like for your least tech-savvy users. Is it simple enough for anyone to use but complex enough to provide the solutions and room for growth your team and organization may need? Don’t focus on solutions you have seen from other providers or demonstrations.
Implementing legal tech is a massive investment in the future of your legal team, so don’t miss the opportunity to challenge the status quo and enhance your internal processes. You are implementing this tech for a reason - your old way of working didn’t cut it. Consider inviting your legal tech implementation consultant to join in the hard internal conversations and lean on them for best-practice insight. Your legal tech solution should provide you with a product expert who can partner with you to revolutionize your department.
Don’t implement in a vacuum. Bring the other business units on board who will have to engage with your new tech. For instance, if you are implementing an eBilling solution, it’s never too early to work with the AP team. If you are implementing a legal intake workflow, pick your favorite internal business partner to walk through the design and even pilot the same. By engaging with internal stakeholders impacted by the technology early in the process you save issues and complaints that you and your tech provider will inevitably end up dealing with later.
Think about change management early. Attorneys tend to be risk-averse and resistant to change. Legal team communication and involvement should happen from day one, if not before purchase. Establishing change champions within your department can be very beneficial. Pulling in your biggest nay-sayer to be this change champion is a smart move as it allows them to be invested in the decision-making process and the final product. Consider a mini “go live” with those you identify as early adopters and solicit feedback for the larger rollout to your tech partner. Go back to those problems you are trying to solve and confirm that this tech will make attorneys’ lives easier, not harder. Communicating to the legal team why you are doing this will facilitate a smoother transition.
It’s easy to lose steam towards the end of the implementation process. Driving all the way through to the finish line and maintaining a relationship with your tech provider is incredibly important. Implementations often fail when legal departments don’t set the appropriate time aside to configure and learn a new way of working. “We’re too busy” is the common tirade from a legal team. Investing time to adopt legal tech will save time down the line. Driving implementation completion from the top is a sure way to success. The power of a GC who is excited and actively engaging in the implementation of legal tech shouldn’t be underestimated.
Long Term Success
The relationship with your legal tech provider is crucial to long-term implementation success. Connect with your customer success manager regularly. Ask for quarterly meetings and have two-way conversations about opportunities to enhance use. Even when workloads pile up and legal tech falls in priority, regular meetings will help ensure you remain up to date with the product and ensure that use and adoption don't fall through the cracks.
Along that vein, read the emails from your customer success manager - even if you think they aren’t important. These emails typically contain important product issues, updates, or opportunities. If you are receiving too many emails from your provider, have a conversation and determine what you can opt-out of without missing the good stuff.
Be candid in conversation with your tech partner and don’t let an issue turn into a repeated frustration. Establish the best pathway to report unexpected behavior and work with your provider to learn what information is best to convey for easier review and troubleshooting. It is far more productive to talk about processes that aren’t working as they arise rather than during a renewal conversation. When reporting issues, be upfront with the level of urgency, for example, if you have an important deadline, an executive user issue, or a full application block. Your legal tech provider may have multiple issues to deal with. Giving an honest portrayal of how urgent the matter allows them to reasonably allocate resources.
Be an engaged client. Ask your legal tech provider if they have a client community to connect you to your peers. Follow your legal tech on social media, opt into product updates, attend webinars, and ask how else you can become more involved with the development of features.
Alongside the feedback, technology providers really value feedforward. Let your legal tech provider know what features are adding value to your legal team. If you have thoughts on product enhancements or new features, ask about a feature request process. If you have an idea for a new feature don’t focus on design; rather, clearly convey the problem you need help solving, the administrative burden a new feature may relieve, or highlight any innovation it presents. The more context you provide, the easier it will be to recognize that your suggestion may positively impact a large number of users, which leads to an increased possibility that your requested feature will be developed.
Finally, don’t forget about your own legal team and business units. Develop a regular cadence and process to check in with and support your internal partners. Use Q&A sessions, lunch and learns, surveys, or even your legal tech’s intake workflow to provide an open forum for feedback and feedforward. Partnerships should not end with implementation. Continued partnership will keep you moving down the legal tech pathway to greater success.
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