Introduction to Digital Transformation for Law Firms
While much has been written about alternative fee arrangements in the provision of legal services, the reality for most lawyers remains the billable hour. With compensation largely tied to this metric, the pressure to efficiently utilize one’s time on client billable matters is intense. This is particularly true for those lawyers who, in addition to practicing law, are responsible for managing an office or a practice group. These individuals typically have broad responsibility for client development, recruiting and training within their respective offices and practice groups.
Although large law firms’ marketing and administrative personnel assist with these activities, the partner-in-charge of an office or a practice group leader is ultimately accountable for the firm’s success or failure. The amount of time required of senior leaders to perform these non-billable tasks varies, but law firm consultants Altman Weil estimate that the most effective practice leaders spend more than 250 hours a year on leadership and management duties.
The challenges faced by law firm leaders are often compounded by geographic distance, cultural differences and legacy information systems. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic poses novel issues for law firms as lawyers have been forced to deliver legal services remotely, while pursuing business opportunities, recruiting personnel and training staff in a new ecosystem that limits in-person contact. Fortunately, the digital transformation capabilities of Iternal Technologies can help law firms increase brand awareness by informing clients and prospects about their firm’s capabilities, attract and onboard new recruits at all levels, and provide comprehensive training across the firm.
Current Market Practices
Today, major law firms generally require an inordinate amount of time and resources to produce a limited range of materials for branding & business development, recruiting and training: office descriptions, practice group pamphlets, lawyer bios, glossy publications that lack personalization and slide presentations that fail to engage with the targeted audience. The effort and cost expended are high because information within a law firm is often siloed, out-of-date or stored in a format that limits the ability to produce videos, slide presentations or podcasts in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
Business Development Challenges Facing Law Firms
As noted at the outset, lawyers—especially office heads and practice group leaders—face tremendous pressure to win new mandates by raising their law firm’s profile, recruiting talented lawyers and training new recruits. A 2018 survey of lawyers by the Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law Research offers numerous useful insights into these challenges. As for the current deployment of technology, 25% of the lawyers responding in the survey acknowledged that they did not have access to proposal management software and only 75% of these lawyers said they were either using or recognized the need for CRM systems.
When asked about the marketing and business development challenges they faced, lawyers cited a lack of time (83%), insufficient collaboration (44%) and difficulty differentiating their firm from competitors (32%). As to how to address these concerns, the lawyers surveyed believed that their firms could best drive new business by increasing social media efforts (52%), investing in new technology (34%) and focusing on content marketing (26%).
Where Can Digital Transformation Help Today
Applying digital transformation to your law firm means using technology to streamline operations, improve efficiency, automate repetitive tasks and more proactively engage with clients, prospects, potential recruits and employees. With the likelihood that a significant percentage of lawyers will continue to work remotely during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that law firm leaders consider how technology can be deployed in this evolving ecosystem to drive business development, promote greater brand awareness, strengthen group cohesion, recruit talented lawyers and ensure that the firms’ lawyers are trained to a high standard. Here are some meaningful ways in which your law firm can utilized the power of Iternal Technologies’ ecosystem to put digital transformation to work today:
Branding & Business Development
In an increasingly crowded legal environment, your branding must focus on more than a colorful logo and pictures of smiling people on your law firm’s website. At its heart, effective branding informs and educates your clients and prospects as to how your firm differentiates itself from other providers of legal services. To do so, you need to communicate important information about what values motivate your legal professionals, the special talents and experience they bring to work each day, and how this benefits your target audiences. Moreover, successful branding demands a consistent message by all members of your law firm across a multitude of social media channels.
Similarly, whether you are an Am Law 100 law firm or smaller in size, a significant amount of time and money is devoted to winning new business. Traditionally, this has meant generating lists of representations and lawyer bios—maybe there is a central repository for this information, but more likely—especially if you are not based in the firm’s “home office”—you ask a marketing assistant to search for prior presentations. Often the materials are dated and, due to timing and cost constraints, limited effort is made to personalize each proposal submitted.
Applying Iternal Technologies’ IdeaBlock Modular Component approach to structuring Information, Content, and Knowledge to your branding and business development efforts enables you to use video, slide presentations, podcasts and text to deliver your message in a compelling fashion. Equally important, Iternal’s upcoming Q1 2022 Global Language Translation solution means your law firm can efficiently create proposals, recruiting materials and social media posts in a multitude of languages to scale your communications on a global basis.
Bring Your Senior Law Firm Leadership to the Conversation Digitally
Support from your firm’s senior leaders when engaging with a customer or prospect is incredibly powerful. A commitment from the highest levels of your firm’s leadership to the success of your client or prospect can go a long way in boosting their confidence that your firm is the right choice for them. Yet, there are many demands on their time and they cannot be physically in multiple places at once. Today, however, it is possible to digitally extend the presence of your senior law firm leaders and deliver a personalized interaction to every customer and prospect with only a modest expenditure of time and money.
Provide for Dynamic Updating of Content While Establishing a Single Source of Truth
Given the demands on your time and the need to deploy your firm’s assets in a cost-effective manner, it is imperative that you have access to up-to-date content when producing deal lists, lawyer bios and presentation materials. Moreover, it is critical to have the ability to tailor your materials to the specific needs of the client or prospect. For example, if you are pitching for an IPO transaction, it will be more persuasive to provide your audience with targeted information that is relevant to that type of securities offering instead of a shotgun approach that includes debt offerings or secondary listings.
Digital transformation through Iternal Technologies’ software can ensure that the right information is available at the right time—whether for lawyers down the hallway or based in an office across the globe. Tagging new information as it is entered into your firm’s database as IdeaBlocks will permit you to selectively incorporate the information that is most responsive to the task at hand. Imagine no longer having to sift through countless prior presentations to identify relevant information or struggling to remember what prior proposal might be most helpful in responding to today’s needs.
Once content goes live on the IdeaFORGE® it can be used by anyone who is authorized. This empowers anyone communicating on behalf of your law firm to find and use the best content available.
Equally important, using a digital technology platform to maintain and update content is critical. You can make information management easy by establishing a single source of truth within your law firm that can be automatically pushed out to all your office locations. No longer do your lawyers spread across the globe have to wonder whether their marketing materials are the most up-to-date.
Capitalized on the Knowledge Residing in Your Best Subject Matter Experts
No doubt within your law firm there are many subject matter experts whose time is in high demand. Using a digital technology platform like the IdeaFORGE® can extend their reach and influence globally. Now your best SME’s can answer customer questions and empower other representatives of your law firm to become more knowledgeable on a host of current topics.
Streamline RFP Preparations
A key part of competing for new business centers on preparing Request for Proposals in a timely manner. Countless, frustrating hours are often spent searching for prior RFPs, recreating “lost” content, duplicating work, and digging through multiple versions to find an old slide. Managing content at the Idea Level® can eliminate these common time-wasting activities, resulting in lower expenses and the promise of more revenue-generating successes.
Keep Your Social Media Channels Up-to-Date and Relevant
As information about your law firm evolves, it is imperative that what is displayed on your website remains updated and accurate. Digital transformation means your website can be fed from multiple sources: podcasts, Facebook postings and YouTube videos.
One Day of Filming Could Lead to Thousands of Videos
IdeaFORGE® allows you to dynamically create video content customized to an individual without the need for a skilled video editor to become involved. Simply select the IdeaBlocks within IdeaFORGE® and click the “Publish Video” button, and in a matter of minutes a professionally edited video is produced via a fully automated proprietary video production AI.
Strengthen Group Cohesion Across Your Global Footprint
Maintaining the integrity of your brand requires consistent messaging across geo-locations, while also keeping in mind cultural nuance. Your digital technology platform will enable you to communicate important information in a timely manner across offices and practice groups to help foster a strong sense of unity. For example, imagine having the capability of updating members of your Antitrust / Competition practice via a short video clip or podcast posted on your website regarding a major success on behalf of a client before the U.S. Federal Trade Commission or the European Union’s Competition Bureau.
By employing digital technology, your law firm can use videos, slide presentations and podcasts to provide potential recruits with important information on what makes the culture of your law firm unique. Think about the power of speakers from diverse backgrounds targeted directly at law school students and lateral Partner and Associate candidates, so they can hear about significant aspects of what makes your law firm special. Relying on the upcoming Global Language Translation solution embedded in the Iternal’s IdeaFORGE® software means your law firm can efficiently create recruiting materials and social media posts in various languages that will appeal to recruits in their native tongues.
Legal professionals are often subject to mandatory continuing legal education requirements in the jurisdictions where they are licensed to practice law. In addition, your law firm will want to ensure that your lawyers have ongoing training to keep their legal skills at the fore of their practice areas. Thanks to digital technology, you can provide them with state-of-the art lectures from subject matter experts within your firm on topics ranging from the basics to the more advanced treatment of legal issues important to your clients. In addition, using videos, slide presentations and podcasts, you can also provide updates on the latest developments affecting a practice area such as a court ruling, a regulatory pronouncement or proposed legislation.
Keep Your Employee Handbook Up-to-Date
Your employee handbook and other HR materials evolve just like other parts of your organization. Using digital technology, your HR function can ensure that critical information is updated in a timely manner and subject to appropriate internal approvals. This is of great importance to firms with offices in multiple jurisdictions subject to different employment regulations.
Speed the Introduction of New Hires to Your Law Firm’s Policies & Procedures
A digital technology platform can help introduce new hires to the policies and procedures applicable to your firm’s operations. Whether accessed from an office location or remotely, a new employee can readily learn about general topics such as firm holidays, prohibited discrimination practices and treatment of confidential information. Equally important, your law firm can obtain a digital signature confirming employees have reviewed mandated policies and procedures to document your compliance efforts.
New technologies such as Iternal Technologies’ Idea Level® ecosystem can be deployed to create a significant competitive advantage for your law firm. Whether aiding in building brand awareness, recruiting personnel or training your lawyers, digital technology can be employed in a cost-effective manner to ensure your law firm remains competitive in today’s global environment.