Anyone can buy legal technology, but getting lawyers to actually use that technology is where the real challenge lies. If you can’t get the lawyers at your firm or in your legal department to use the legal technology you bought, you will sooner or later stop buying legal technology. Probably sooner rather than later, and you’ll never get yourself out of the archaic grind of doing all your work manually.
Fortunately, we recently read some advice for getting lawyers to use technology from a uniquely qualified source: Jean O’Grady, Senior Director of Research & Knowledge at DLA Piper, with over 30 years of experience in the legal industry. Earlier this year, Jean wrote a fantastic article on exactly this subject for the Thompson Reuters Legal Executive Institute: “Best Practices to Drive Lawyer Adoption of New Legal Technology.”
Jean’s article is worth reading in full, but we’ll give you a few highlights here, as Jean starts with the hard truth: “Product deployment alone does not assure adoption and a return on investment.” With this said, Jean then starts immediately with identifying and “eliminating the obstacles to adoption (This Step Is Often Overlooked).”
As her parenthetical phrase notes well, this step is indeed often overlooked – and as she implies, it is not only a critical step, but critical that it come first, long before you bring any technology into your firm or company.
Indeed, as Jean’s very first sentence in this section – once again getting the critical points out first – is that “It is important to recognize at the outset that policies and the technology itself can create obstacles to adoption.” Jean then goes on to list the ways in which law firms and legal departments can ensure that the technology that they buy doesn’t defeat itself – all of which are invaluable points for those who are in positions like Jean.
Some of our favorites include:
- “Eliminate passwords whenever possible”;
- “Bring the product to the lawyer and provide multiple access points;” and
- “Understand the user experience.”
In fact, we like the point she makes about user experience so much – that we want to highlight this quote:
It is important to map out the user experience and to understand how to deploy a product in advance. Identify the pain points that could result in a lawyer abandoning the installation midway through the process. Provide concierge — desktop assistance.
Jean then gives us a set of “enhancement techniques” that can be used by “law librarians, IT, marketing, and professional development staff” for “driving technology into each lawyer’s practice.”
For many of you – especially those who are solo or work in a small firm environment – while her advice is solid, it isn’t practical advice that you can actually implement.
When we wrote at the outset of this post that Jean is “uniquely qualified” we meant it. The toughest truth here is that very few of those reading this post will be implementing technology at a firm like DLA Piper, a firm with over 4,200 lawyers, more than 90 offices and thus described by Vault.com as “ginormous” and a “law firm empire.”
Very few of you will be able to get technology adoption help from a “law librarian, IT, marketing, or professional development staff” that number in the hundreds (or is that “thousands” for DLA Piper?). Very few of you will be able to provide “concierge — desktop assistance” to other lawyers.
So what do you do when instead of having hand-holding help from vast team lead by someone with 30 years of experience in the industry? What do you do when you have just a small team of a few, or even just a “team of one” in yourself – and you all have your very busy day jobs to do as well?
That’s where we come back to one of Jean’s critical points – and one of our own too: try to avoid technology that creates it’s own obstacles to adoption. Like Jean also says, don’t overlook the need to eliminate those obstacles. And while it is always important when implementing new technology to “map out the user experience and to understand how to deploy a product in advance” it always works out so much better when those who built that technology did that work for you in the first place – and thus built it into the product.
That’s why, when we recently quoted our friend, Above The Law’s Joe Patrice, about how you should “free yourself from dependency on your IT team,” we were totally serious about it. If you’re in a position to the get the kind of assistance Jean outlines in her article to get your law firm or law department to adopt technology – whether document automation or any of all that other legal tech out there – you’ve got a tremendous advantage.
For the rest of us, we need to make sure the technology we want lawyers to use was designed with an intuitive interface that makes it easy to dive in and just start using it. And when there is a question or some guidance needed, there is a friendly, accessible Customer Success team ready to lend a hand.
When it comes to document automation, making your user experience, and that of everyone at your firm or department, a superior one, is something that we at Woodpecker obsess over. We truly want to make your lives a little better with technology, and for us, it all starts with the best user experience we can possibly deliver.