Legal06 July, 2018

Round Table: Building a future proof law firm in India

Wolters Kluwer and IDEX Legal recently held the third edition of their pan India roundtable series on “How to use technology to build a future proof law firm”. Having successfully hosted discussions with some of the most forward looking law firms in Mumbai and Delhi, the third leg was held in Bangalore bringing together partners and CXOs from across the leading law firms to debate the role of technology in driving their business forward.

The roundtable series with law firms across the country is part of the initiative showcasing the official launch of Wolters Kluwers’ legal solutions in India. After a decade of successfully providing solutions to the healthcare and chartered accountant communities Wolters Kluwer has introduced its cloud based practice and matter management tool Kleos in India, which in just a few months has already started gaining significant traction with the SME law firm community.

Discussions commenced with practical demonstrations on how Kleos delivers efficiency benefits for law firms from both an internal business management point of view as well as external interactions with clients due to the higher level of transparency available through better knowledge, billing and data management systems.

The highlight of the event was a highly interactive panel session on “The role of technology in building the future of your firm” with cutting edge insights from Avik Biswas, Partner, IndusLaw; Kaushik Rajan, COO, Tatva Legal Hyderabad; Neeraj Dubey, Partner, Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan Siddharth Idnani, Vice President, Wolters Kluwer and moderated by Vikas Vij, Managing Director, IDEX Legal.

Obvious from the interactions in the room was that even though lawyers were not early adopters of technology,  leaders of firms focused on growth and efficiency are  now keen to leverage technology when it comes to the running of their firms. However, many said that the biggest hurdle in bringing in technology solutions is actually rolling out implementation of the tech solutions across all the lawyers and partners in the firm. This, according to many participants, is the reason formany abandonments of technology projects over the years. There were examples from the panel members of how various products had been brought in and how  adoption challenges created roadblocks. One panel member mentioning how they had to drop a product line after resistance and frustrations grew too much. And now they were venturing back into adopting technology via Kleos and taking a more focused step by step approach to the integration. Neeraj Dubey from Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan explained how it had taken them almost 8 9 years to imbibe a culture where technology adoption was part of the DNA. And they now operate at a level where technology is a core part of their DNA and infrastructure including over 50 in house engineers whose job was to develop and support technology usage within the firm. Avik Biswas mentioned how resistance doesn’t always come from the most obvious channels, and that it is an ongoing exercise to get everyone in the firm fully bought into the philosophy of using technology to manage their workloads better.

With regards to understanding why firms were looking at adopting technology the key drivers that were mentioned across the panellists were:

  1. Growth and scaling up the business
  2. Human resource efficiency
  3. Better understanding of the business
  4. Enhanced client relationships and output
  5. Making informed business decisions based on data and facts, not gut feeling

From the audience there were many questions around how to get lawyers to adopt and consistently use technology and change habits when they are  so busy. The consistent response from the panellists was that it had to be a top down initiative and leadership had to set an example and lead from the front. Without that commitment the chances of succeeding in adopting technology was much lower. There were different approaches discussed on how to do the roll out whether it should be a mass roll out where everyone gets on board on Day zero, or whether it should be a step by step approach.  But everyone agreed  that for firms to derive the benefits of technology patience, commitment, leadership buy in and communication of benefits at each level of the firm were critical.

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