SpeechWrite has released a white paper for the legal profession entitled Dictating the Pace of Change. Containing a foreword by James Turner, President of the Birmingham Law Society and insights from Gateley plc and Aaron & Partners, the paper outlines the extent to which the UK legal market is starting to keep pace with technological advances, and how law firms can take advantage of these in order to optimise their practice and remain competitive. Click here to download.
“Chief executives, senior partners, directors and members will benefit from an introduction to the technology involved and analysis of where future developments will take us.” James Turner (President of the Birmingham Law Society & Senior Partners at Tuckers Solicitors).
The rise of the mega law firm – and the ‘virtual’ firm
The past 20 years has seen the rise of the mega law firm, with a growing number of practices going public. The most notable, to date, being regional firm Knights Group, which broke records for the largest-ever UK law firm listing, being valued at £103.5m.
In addition to this, the growth of the ‘virtual’ law firm, which bring together groups of self-employed lawyers sharing IT and marketing systems, along with overheads, has further transformed the face of the legal profession – and this is unlikely to stop.
This special report analyses the changes successful law firms have made, and will need to continue to make, in order to remain competitive and relevant: firms such as Knights Group, which became the fifth UK law firm to float in June 2018. It also outlines what steps IT delivery managers have taken to secure better collaboration both internally and with clients, while ensuring cyber security.
The report demonstrates how fast adopters, such as Gateley Plc (the first UK law firm to float, in 2015), have been able take advantage of technology in order to provide positive outcomes for both their firms and their clients. According to Jas Bassi, IT solution delivery manager at Gateley, technology must now form a central pillar of any law firm’s growth plan.
Steps towards becoming tech-savvy
Cloud computing is one of the easiest tech changes to implement. Allowing for more agile working and the ability to keep in touch with clients while on the move, this is already revolutionising the way parties communicate with the court in criminal cases, according to James Turner. Additionally, the report demonstrates how subscription based models allow firms to avoid the cost of hosting these types of infrastructures internally. Such systems are also infinitely scalable – organically growing as a firm grows.
The report also explores how implementing a hybrid solution, combining on-site and cloud-based solutions, can allow users to pick and choose between applications. In fact, Nick Thornton, IT Specialist at top 200 firm Aaron & Partners LLP, sees this as the future, as it offers both resilience and flexibility (borne out by a 2017 poll which showed that cloud adoption rates in the UK have risen by 83% since 2010).
Digital tools, such as voice recognition and digital dictation systems, have also taken off, replacing analogue formats, thanks to providing almost unlimited storage capacity, clearer playback, editing options and additional transcription services if required. Such systems also provide greater mobility, allowing for ad hoc dictation by lawyers when they are out of the office. Furthermore, they can be accessed and shared remotely.
The latest generation of digital dictation solutions is also explored within the report. These devices are currently freeing up even more fee-earner time – allowing them to dictate from any device, send in real time and even track and edit remotely; eliminating the need for transcribers to type up copy. According to James Last, practice manager at Broadbents Solicitors, integrating voice recognition into digital dictation systems has allowed them to “dictate and distribute any letter, statement or court application within an hour.”
The how’s and why’s
The report also explores the main barriers to legal firms’ adoption of technological advancements (including security concerns, historical under-investment and cost concerns) and focuses on how these can be overcome. For example, SpeechWrite 360 has been proved to significantly reduce a firm’s workflow and dictation costs, while the AWS cloud infrastructure is now the most powerful, flexible and secure cloud-computing environment available – even used by the UK’s Ministry of Justice.
Meeting the future head-on
As new technologies continue to be adopted by law firms, the Law Society predicts a rise in automated legal service functions, which could see output per person grow from the current average 1.2% per annum, to 2.4% within the next decade. And when you factor in that, in the last five years alone, the number of solicitors has grown by 15,000, it’s clear to see that there is going to be an increased pressure on productivity; and firms will need to find new and innovative ways to stay ahead of the game.
How to get the report
The full white paper can be downloaded online. Click here to download.