Little has been written about the role of Legal IT Professionals in the law firm of the future. Most commentary has focussed on the law firm as a whole, or on the role of lawyers in the firm. So let me break from the mould.
We live in a world where corporate clients view “process” as just as important as lawyering. In other words, quality is a given and is expected by clients. For corporate clients, quality gets your foot in the door, but better processes will differentiate the firm and seal the deal. As a result, it is foolish for law firms serving corporate clients to differentiate themselves solely on quality.
It is equally foolish for firms servicing retail clients to do so – there is not enough market information for retail clients to reliably do so, and most retail clients do not have enough sophistication to be able to differentiate on quality.
What both these types of clients do understand however, is whether or not the process of legal services delivery is convenient and efficient for them.
Enter the new role of the Legal IT Professional. Successful firms of the not-too-distant future will:
- have an Legal IT Professional as part of the senior management team;
- Will not place the Legal IT Professionals into a IT maintenance silos – rather they will be integrated into practice and industry groups; and
- Will encourage Legal IT professionals to be client-facing and will insist that they interact with clients in order to solicit client feedback on providing better service and interconnectivity.
The goal will be to allow Legal IT Professionals to act as they do in software companies – constantly seeking and creating upgrades to the delivery model. In the not-too-distant future law firms will send out notices to clients something along the lines of:
Upgrade available: We have now upgraded to Law 5.323 to serve you better. Click to begin.
In the not-too-distant future, law firm hierarchy among lawyers and non-lawyers will break down and Legal IT Professionals will be seen as just as vital to the success of the law firm as lawyers – perhaps even more so…..