The pandemic sped digital transformation in the legal industry out of necessity, but what might have been deemed temporary is now here to stay. The American Lawyer reported in May 2022 that 79% of Am Law 200 HR departments expect “all or most” of their workforce to be eligible for a hybrid work arrangement this year.This increasingly mobile, dispersed workforce has new service delivery requirements and expectations that are fundamentally challenging the dynamics of integration and consumption of IT resources. Traditional on-premise solutions using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) with tightly controlled end points simply cannot meet the new demands.
Law firm leaders are well past the point of approving large new technology expenditures simply because they are impressed with the latest fads or afraid of missing out on a new tool that other firms are rumored to be buying. Firms are moving toward technology solutions that drive firm, business, and practice value. Innovation is taking hold. Bottom line benefits are now core to making technology decisions, and balancing scarce IT and firm resources.
Law firms of all sizes are seizing the moment to rethink the strategic role of the IT function within their organizations and considering various ways that IT can impact their competitive positioning in the marketplace. As my colleague Erik Schmidt wrote recently, a number of these firms are learning that a bold strategic shift to an IT managed services model is helping them achieve greater efficiencies and reduce a variety of IT-related risks.
The evolution of the U.S. legal industry has accelerated in recent years. Law firms and other legal service providers have adopted an array of new technologies that have impacted both the business and practice of law. Meanwhile, these new technologies are driving a variety of changes to legal workforce dynamics that are forcing employers to navigate internal culture shifts. These simultaneous forces of technology and workforce changes are challenging law firms to rethink the way they deliver value to internal and external clients.
Today’s fast-changing client expectations and legal practice demands are forcing law firms to adapt their internal operations for how they will conduct business in the future. These operational changes require agile transformation across the three areas of people, processes and technology. In short, there are now more specialized skills needed to support and operate the newly defined roles, more interconnections between various law firm capabilities, and more technology needed to support user activity across the organization. This evolution in law firm operations calls for a common reference point that can serve as a quick-look guide for the firm’s professionals and leaders. This sort of reference framework can help provide a clear understanding of the firm’s internal operations and processes, including key client touch points.
Market forces are beginning to push law firm IT functions to manage in a more complex environment, but also to continuously evolve and enhance the enablement of practice delivery. Attorneys are more mobile and more connected. Clients are more demanding, with more data, integration and interactions. Technology is evolving at a faster pace with more alternatives and complexity. And competition for IT talent is accelerating, not only across horizontal technology domains but across industries.