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LegalNovember 21, 2022

Lessons from real-world legal technology transformations

At our ELM Amplify 2022 user conference, we featured a session called Reimagining legal technology, which helped participants better understand how to establish and execute on a vision for a legal department’s technology future. We were joined by speakers Jennifer Mattson, AVP, OCLO Operations for Nationwide, and Debbie Siedlecki, Manager - Legal Operations at Abbott, who talked about how their legal operations teams approach legal technology.

Both of our guest speakers are experienced in choosing and implementing legal technology and had much to share with attendees. These are a few of the key lessons they’ve learned.

Don’t rush to implement or expand on technology

When an organization makes a decision to implement a new technology solution, they need to be sure they take all the necessary steps to ensure they are ready. For example, an AI solution that can help your team make great decisions is only as effective as the data you feed into it. If your data collection or cleanliness is lacking, then the technology benefit will be limited. Take the time to make sure that the foundational pieces are in place so that the attention-getting new solution can do its job well.

The same principle applies when you are looking to expand on a new technology by introducing additional features or rolling it out to more users and/or practice areas. As Debbie pointed out, you don’t want to build a house on an unstable foundation. Realize that you will be more successful if you address any early issues you may have before growing the solution.

Automation of workflows has multiple benefits

Automated workflows can be especially helpful to legal operations teams because the improvements they introduce are multifaceted. They can make technology products easier to use, which often enables the legal team to do their work more quickly and efficiently. Importantly, automation also prompts people to complete the full process you’ve designed, which can give you more and better data.

When you’re able to get more relevant data into the system, it gives you a basis for running analytics, which you can then display in easy-to-digest formats that department staff and leadership can refer to when making critical decisions. Jennifer’s team, for example, freed up about 150 person-hours per year by automating many of their processes. In doing so, they also improved the quality and completeness of the department’s data.

Communication is key to change management

When you communicate clearly and concisely about your technology implementation, you lay the groundwork for the strong user adoption that will help you achieve success. It should start with discussions among stakeholders about what you are looking for from the new technology. These conversations can also help you to get buy-in from leadership, which is an important consideration.

Be sure to announce major dates and milestones well in advance to people affected both within the company and externally at law firms and other vendors. Include information about how the new solution will help improve performance and make people’s work easier and more effective. One recommended way to spread the word on benefits is by recruiting “change champions” throughout the organization. These are colleagues in each affected function who understand the new solution and can talk with users about how it will help them.

Training should be ongoing

When you introduce new technology to a team, you need to include training as a well-thought-out and continuing part of your plan. This is one of the keys to ensuring that your users feel prepared and supported. Introductory training before new technology arrives is, of course, important. But in addition to this pre-implementation training, you should also provide opportunities for users to give you feedback on their experience and then respond with additional training to address gaps in initial processes or understanding

The first-hand experience that Jennifer and Debbie have with legal technology planning, implementation, and use gives them valuable perspective. We are very grateful to them for sharing that experience and helping our attendees better prepare for legal technology transformations within their own companies.

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