One of the interesting revelations in InfoTrack’s recently-released report, Attorney competence and the client experience, is that a client’s perception of a lawyer’s competence is correlated with their perception of the lawyer’s technology competence.

If a client perceives their lawyer as technically competent, the chance that they also view them as legally competent increases. What’s more, the client’s perception of the importance of lawyer technology competence increases as the client gets older.

That got us thinking: we know what clients think about lawyers using technology.

What do lawyers think about lawyers using technology?

Luckily, our friends at Smokeball provided this perspective in their 2024 State of the Law Report, which sheds light on how lawyers are using technology in their practices.

We dug in and pulled out three juicy nuggets that combine client experience and the state of legal technology to help you effectively navigate this landscape:

#1: Get rid of technological clutter

a. As we mentioned earlier, our report on the client experience showed a correlation between perceived attorney legal competence and technology competence.

Smokeball’s State of the Law report pointed out that while powerful tools are increasingly available to the legal sector, firms with less than two people often use more than eight systems to manage their practice.

This “disparate web of software clutter” might result in wasted time, lack of visibility, and poor customer service, and paradoxically contribute negatively to a firm’s perceived technological competence.

How do you know what tools to use and which to toss?

A technology audit can help you find places where your tools overlap — you’re paying for two or three things that can all do the same job — or where you’ve got gaps. The goal is to cover all of your needs with just a few tools instead of having to switch to a new system for every task. Integrations are a great solution since you can add functionality to your core systems without needing to learn a whole new tool.

#2: Resist technology at your own risk

While our client experience report showed that clients don’t care what kind of software you use, they do care about how skillfully you wield it.

Smokeball reported that over half of law firms use software to manage their practices and provide clients a seamless experience, and 40% have an integrated system with a client portal.

The American Bar Association has reported that the percentage of firms using practice management software has been growing steadily for years.

Firms that fail to keep up with these standards will be left behind. Just like online shopping became the expectation for retailers, the marketplace expects law firms to build their infrastructure on a good technological foundation.

#3: Understanding AI may be a big part of your job

According to the Smokeball report, 27% of law firms currently use AI in their practice. However, 50% of firms believe that it will transform the practice of law, and nearly all lawyers (90%) are keen to explore its benefits further.

One of the most interesting findings in our report was that older clients relied heavily on their lawyers to understand technology – presumably because they often struggle to use it themselves.

For this reason, understanding not only how to deploy AI in law practice, but also how to reassure clients that they can use it effectively, could be a big part of lawyers’ jobs in the future.

Looking for more guidance on artificial intelligence for law firms? Check out our free eBook – Artificial intelligence for lawyers.

The bottom line: using the right technologies matters

If there was a question about the imperative for attorneys to understand and adopt technology, our survey answered in the affirmative. Now comes Smokeball to provide lawyers with better insight into how lawyers are actually using technology and what specific steps they should take to ensure they keep up with their competition and take advantage of the opportunities technology provides.

Get the Smokeball State of the Law report here.

Want the whole report on Attorney competence and the client experience? We’ll send it directly to your email:

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