Posted by Rachel Ho Jan 10, 2023 1:40:38 AM

Presentation From the ASEAN Legal Alliance Presentation

The legal industry today faces various pressing economic and societal transformations that highlight the inevitably of a digitally driven future shaped by the following considerations: 

Data Connectivity: Our world today is increasingly influenced and shaped by data and connectivity – locally, particularly relevant in a tech-driven smart nation such as Singapore.

Leverage Technology: Organisations and businesses are noticeably clearer in their intention to leverage technology and digital transformations to stay ahead of the competition.

Digital Transformation: Leveraging technology and embarking on digital transformations – adopting relevant strategies and sustainable transformative practices on the same is not easy.

To be successful in this modern and complex world, the legal industry needs modern and complex tooling. Globally, law firms are looking for legal tech solutions that enable them to stay agile, robust, and competitive. Yet, there remains an inertia to digitalise law firms fully. The following points explain the key benefits and considerations of digitalising law firms:

Legacy Physical Infrastructure – An Inertia To Move To Digital Infrastructure:

  • Maintaining data on-site instead of storing it in the cloud is just the opposite of information security

  • Not investing in digital transformation leads to greater overheads and expenses over time 

  • Relying on old and legacy solutions may lead to serious data breaches and malicious cyber attacks

Mindset Upgrades (Or the Reluctance Of)

  • Upgrading of mindset of older staff
  • Upskilling for the digital world
  • Throwing out old practices and adapting to the world outside

Perceptions of Security and Trust

  • Protected against malicious actions and potential data breaches.
  • Security audits are much easier to perform when all processes are being virtualized.
  • Win the trust of your biggest and most desired potential clients. 

Practical Considerations For Digitalising Your Law Firm

Be An Workflow Automation Champion

  • Constantly think how to automate (instead of sticking with the status quo) so as to better leverage on resources for activities that will benefit the company more.

Considering Alternative Revenue Sources

  • Consider new ways of making money instead of just giving legal advice – for e.g. providing lateral services for supporting clients in legal operations by automation.

Reprioritising Budgets 

  • Law firms need to re-prioritise their budgets – to allocate to technology instead of only humans

Better Hires and Retention Policies

  • Get accustomed to hiring outside the legal profession who can upgrade the firm's overall capabilities

Creating a better talent experience

  • “Smarter” way of working via new technologies offers more flexibility and easiness will act as a magnet for employees. 
  • Modernise technologies and systems – easier to find, attract, manage, and retain talents in an industry that experiences a scarcity of qualified experts. 

Keep up with the world

  • Differing legal practices in different parts of the world. For example, UK and Europe law firms can be owned and invested in by PE funds, non-lawyers while in Asia, we have very different rules around the setup of law firms.
  • With more investments, firms can run with better metrics tools and capabilities
  • Regional considerations: In Asia, law firms do not grow as much as in other countries because their overall foundational digital structures are weaker
  • With tech, our clients can grow very fast
  • Higher security and compliance standards
  • Higher security opportunities and guarantees for clients’ data. 

Key Takeaways

1. Transformation with Purpose and Intent
i. Understanding Digitisation VS Digitalisation VS Digital Transformation.
  • Digitization’s purpose is to encode information in computers by converting from analog to digital format. The process mainly deals with recording data that can eventually be used in digital technologies.
  • Digitalization deals with information processing, or how digitized data can be used to improve workflows through automating existing processes.
  • Digital transformation is all about leveraging knowledge and integrating it in all business areas to enhance engagement and create new value.
2. Digital transformation
  • More than buying the tech for the process. 
  • It is important to shape the organisation and develop the culture and people within the organisation to ensure future readiness.
  • Adopt a top-down organisational embrace towards digital practices. More importantly, such a transformation is a step-by-step process and must be aligned with and guided by your business needs and goals.
  • Use a value stream map – optimise digital investments, identify USP and how to leverage on tech to stay ahead.
2. Alignment of Expectations
  • Organization culture plays a significant role in sustaining digital transformation. For instance, fostering a culture of innovation in a company may help eliminate anxieties about technological change. 
  • Successful digital transformation should not and does not just stop at the C-suite level – collaboration is required and encouraged from both within and outside the company (firms may consider their clients and informal or external talents when making business decisions regarding the use of technology). 
  • Be prepared that implementing changes means you must stop doing certain things – this is an opportunity to add value to your business and clients, not a risk to job stability.
  • Company leaders should endeavour to stay competitive and critical at all times – they may consider communicating the purpose of digital transformation to the customer, and also recognise that digital transformation is a continuous investment, not just a one-time move. 
Rachel Ho

Written by Rachel Ho