Myth-busting in-house legal tech: the time is now

On the one hand, timing is everything. On the other hand, there’s never a perfect time to do something. Where does this leave in-house lawyers wanting to adopt legaltech? Do you wait? Or is now the right time to move?

Don’t worry about being behind the curve—you’re not. Yet…

The in-house legal sector is currently at the ‘sweet spot’ of first-mover advantage. But things are changing fast.

A Law Society report published early last year on adopting legaltech said, ‘it is hard to argue that [the sector] is anything other than in the ‘innovation’ or ‘early adoption’ stage’.

Of course, a lot has happened since this report came out 18 months ago. The current pandemic has turbocharged how in-house lawyers think of technology. In late March this year, with almost no warning, the ‘New How’ of working from home was forced upon swathes of in-house teams. A transition that would normally take years took just a few weeks. Unannounced, we’ve got to know what colleagues store on top of their wardrobes (dusty box files and childhood games) or how clever they are—or claim to be—with their fully-stocked and curated bookshelves on display behind them.

The remarkable thing? On the whole, it’s worked. What’s more, for most in-house teams, it has been pretty painless, barring the odd teething issue here and there. Put simply, tech and legaltech have kept the ‘show on the road’ for countless legal teams in what may prove to be the worst economic slump since 1706.

With COVID-19 and the transition to the new normal, it is clear that the importance of legaltech is growing all the while.

But don’t think you have to wait—you don’t.

A May 2020 report from McKinsey on the implications of COVID-19 for US law firms notes that, ‘clients are looking for sound information, hard data, and impartial advice.’

As an in-house lawyer, giving objective advice is a given, but it needs to be based on the former: hard data and sound information. Legaltech can give you the valuable insights your internal clients need, in a smarter and faster way, so that your team and your business can not just survive but positively thrive in these challenging times.

What does this mean in practice? Here are three tips, from our experience, to help you choose legaltech that works for you now:

  • The key is to start, even though the first step can often be the most difficult. It sometimes feels like there’s too much tech out there; like you’re playing catch up. This is understandable. After all, few in-house lawyers have the capacity for hours of technical navel-gazing. But you don’t need to adopt a stark all-or-nothing approach. As with all things in life, start somewhere. Start small, if needs be, and build from there
  • Do your research on good tech v. bad tech: The FT has called choosing legal tech the ‘tyranny of choice’. Be smart about what works best for you and your team and don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions of your vendors
  • Remember you are probably much better than you think you are in understanding and using tech. Don’t believe the propaganda that you ‘don’t do tech’, as, frankly, in many cases there’s much evidence to the contrary. For decades in-house lawyers have adapted to technological change—from letters, to faxes, to emails—and will continue to adapt in the future. Don’t be bamboozled by jargon and never be afraid to ask an ‘obvious’ or ‘daft’ question

Earlier in the summer, we launched the New How, our long-term strategic project, to build a better, faster, smarter normal through innovation. The New How is how your business could—and should—be doing things now. Over the past few years we have been working hard, developing innovative products, processes and working practices at Shoosmiths like matters+, Live Working and now Cia (our new AI contract review platform), to name a few. These exciting products don’t change what is done, but they radically change how it is done.

Let us help you with your #NewHow so you can be smarter, faster and better.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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