Perhaps the world is returning to normal! It certainly felt that way at The Alternative IT Legal Event 2021 held at Marlow, London on 21 & 22 September. Terrific to see so many IT Directors back in conference mode, sharing insights and ideas about the challenges they and their firms have faced over the past 18 months and the hopes they have for future of IT within law firms.
We had some interesting discussions at the event and below are some key points worth mentioning.
Things we agreed with…
- It’s not the ‘new normal’, it’s just normal. The way we are now going to live, work, communicate, interact – it’s just normal. Expect IT to be at the centre of supporting lawyers working normally, whatever that looks like. General consensus is: hybrid working for the foreseeable future.
- In law firms, IT were the heroes of the day. They got everyone working from home, shipping laptops, screens, mice, chairs… scaled the backend infrastructure to support the changed way of working, kept the systems running and somehow most laws firms are doing just as well, if not better, than pre-pandemic.
- People are key. The conference discussion focused on wrapping arms around people. The change is unprecedented and not everyone has been able to handle the challenges of isolation. Not everyone is comfortable working just digitally. It’s okay to feel challenged right now and it’s important to understand that actually it’s quite normal. So, we need to think about our colleagues and how to best support them moving forward.
Questions we took away…
- There was a lot of discussion about law firms now being digital businesses. Why? Because the lawyers were working from home on a laptop. We don’t see it that way, simply working from home doesn’t make it a digital law firm. There is so much more that can, should and we are sure will be done to transform law firms to digital businesses. That’s just the beginning of that journey.
- Should IT Directors have a seat at the board table in law firms? Many thought that’s a given. We don’t agree. For those law firms that are truly looking to re-imagine their operating model, of course IT Directors need to be at the table. For them the IT Director informs the thought leadership for strategy, for the art of the possible. For those IT Directors that have kept the lights on in a difficult situation, well surely, that’s just the role. Now comes the real opportunity, to rethink your firms IT infrastructure roadmap to support new ways of delivering legal services.
- Innovation… lots to ponder here but there is no doubt that platforms solving challenges that legal gets involved in (e.g., property conveyancing), are the real threat for law firms’ current services. Innovation isn’t just about doing what you’re doing today a bit more efficiently (legaltech1.0) but rather digitally delivering the clients desired service outcome (legaltech2.0).
All in all, a fun and informative event, thanks go to S.K., and Steve and the team for getting us all together again!