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Digital transformation

in the modern law firm

PRESENTS

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1.

Ensuring a
good working experience...
from anywhere

The onset of 2020 saw ten years of digital transformation in just ten months. Priorities of the CIO were accelerated, abandoned and adjusted. Questions cycled from ‘how will we rapidly enable remote working?’ to ‘what will the return to work be like?’.

With an initiative list turned on its head, many IT leaders in the legal sector are still scrambling to manage the competing priorities of cloud migrations, implementation of SASE and zero trust, adoption of Microsoft365, upgraded security investments and more – while also trying to ensure the best possible user experience for remote workers. This paper is designed to explore more about the most common and important projects being undertaken at the modern law firm, helping you chart your own roadmap in tandem with trends in the legal IT industry.

Traditionally most, although not all, law firms operated on a primarily fixed basis. Sat behind a desk, working on company-assigned devices and connected to IT-managed networks. Tools to facilitate remote working were broadly seen as necessary but not critical. A VPN could be used for the rare instances an employee needed to work from home, for example. As the workplace changed, however, these technologies began to show signs of inadequacy. Even pre-COVID, the number of legal professionals working outside the office was growing fast. That extends beyond gradually more liberal work-from-home policies; the train, the airport and the café have also increasingly featured as a venue for work in recent years.

Survey: Share of legal professionals accessing services on mobile devices

Consider the following frustrations:

Legal professionals were asked in early 2020 whether they used mobile devices (Android and iOS) to conduct their work. More than four in five used one for at least email, with most also using video conferencing on the go. No more than a third used mobile for document management, cloud storage or other more complex tasks, suggesting that while the mentality of ‘work from anywhere’ was in place, the systems and processes were not suitable for full-fledged mobile working.

One of the most difficult challenges for IT has always been the disparity between remote workers (including those on mobile) and traditional working. Distributed workforces need access to the same tools and support that fixed workers do, but IT typically doesn’t have the visibility, diagnostics, security or technologies in place to be able to help them. Ultimately, the end user experience of working outside the office is significantly degraded.

A poor user experience can have a meaningful impact. Frustrated employees are far more likely to leave, and productivity can take a big hit when the experience is inadequate. Given that many law firms bill in small increments – often just six minutes – this can have a measurable impact upon the bottom line.

These are a small selection of the most common frustrations facing employees that are amplified when working from anywhere. Even if each issue results in a conservative one minute of lost productivity per day, that quickly becomes 30 minutes per week. At typical lawyer rates, that is $175 in lost billable minutes, or more than $8000 a year per fee earner. Improving the employee experience means improving the bottom line. It’s no surprise that IT leaders listed improving the end user experience as their top priority for the future more than any other initiative.

• Microsoft Teams or Zoom call audio/video issues

• Having to regularly reauthenticate with MFA throughout the day

• Struggling with slow network performance

• Frequent network disconnects

• Application crashes

• Failure to access cloud resources

Survey: Number one IT priority for 2021 at law firms

Moving to the cloud and adopting zero trust are both colossal and important undertakings, but more law firms are primarily focused on improving end user experience than those two projects combined.

Research on the employee experience (EX) in mid-2020 reveals that while two in three remote workers encountered an IT issue in lockdown, over half (57%) didn’t even report it to their IT team. This lack of visibility into experience issues is one of most difficult challenges facing the modern law firm, meaning helpdesk tickets and reactive support will not go far enough in improving the EX. This problem is compounded by the fact that most law firms do nothing to proactively monitor the EX - the same research showed that 58% do not monitor the end user experience at all, making establishing a baseline almost impossible.

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Survey: What would make the single biggest difference to the experience of remote fee earners?

So how can the employee experience be improved if so much is still unknown? Many law firms are turning to dedicated experience monitoring tools, gathering telemetry data to better diagnose issues as they emerge. Some of these technologies also allow for the aggregate analysis of the experience problems encountered by remote workers, allowing for administrators to flag common issues and remediate at scale – whether that is upgrading a particular device type, migrating from a legacy app to a modern alternative or applying new network policies.

When IT leaders at law firms were asked to share the type of issue that they believed would make the biggest improvement to the EX, the most frequently cited was network performance (47%). Employees could have the best software with the least obtrusive security, yet if the underlying network is unreliable then the entire effort is rendered meaningless. The network has never been more important, so ensuring high performance is crucial.

Email

Video
conferencing

Document
management

Note taking/
annotation

Cloud storage

Practise
management
system

Refresh your device state

Other

Upgrade remote connectivity

Adopt zero trust (ZTNA/SDP)

Move to the cloud

Enhance user experience

“When people start to get back on the move – in cars, showrooms, coffee shops, client meeting rooms – we might see some of the legacy technology come under strain.”

Jonathan Swan, Operations & IT Director 

Roythornes

“The user experience at home needs to be just as consistent and just as seamless as going into the office."

Andrew Yearsley, CTO

Bishop Fleming

“There will need to be more digitalization to support ‘working from anywhere.’ I have doubts about current tech stacks, and whether they can meet the demands of the ‘working from anywhere’ model. The market is in need of additional tools to make that user experience what they expect it to be.”

Jas Bassi, Head of Solution Delivery

Gately Legal

“The best secure access tools – both VPNs and ZTNAs – will actively improve the quality of the network. Modern security software can reduce latency and optimize the connection, so it’s imperative that law firms start to swiftly move away from legacy solutions that degrade the network and, in turn, the lawyer experience”

Nick Hayne, Head of Professional Services

Quiss

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PRESENTS

logo_white_transparent.png

Digital transformation in
the modern lawfirm

Since the onset of 2020, IT leaders in many industries are rapidly trying to learn, adjust and plan for an entirely new working landscape. Law firms are among those organizations to undergo the most change and navigating this new normal has posed fresh challenges.

Between April 2020 and April 2021, NetMotion hosted over 50 dedicated digital events for those working in the legal sector, facilitating conversation between technology leaders from hundreds of law firms (see appendix). It also commissioned a January 2021 survey of an additional 150 law firms in the US, UK and Australia to better understand emerging trends, such as cloud and SASE.

This report summarizes some of the best insights from these different research projects, including exclusive findings, real case studies and honest quotes from those working at the modern law firm.

About this report

The onset of 2020 saw ten years of digital transformation in just ten months. Priorities of the CIO were accelerated, abandoned and adjusted. Questions cycled from ‘how will we rapidly enable remote working?’ to ‘what will the return to work be like?’.

With an initiative list turned on its head, many IT leaders in the legal sector are still scrambling to manage the competing priorities of cloud migrations, implementation of SASE and zero trust, adoption of Microsoft365, upgraded security investments and more – while also trying to ensure the best possible user experience for remote workers. This paper is designed to explore more about the most common and important projects being undertaken at the modern law firm, helping you chart your own roadmap in tandem with trends in the legal IT industry.

Traditionally most, although not all, law firms operated on a primarily fixed basis. Sat behind a desk, working on company-assigned devices and connected to IT-managed networks. Tools to facilitate remote working were broadly seen as necessary but not critical. A VPN could be used for the rare instances an employee needed to work from home, for example. As the workplace changed, however, these technologies began to show signs of inadequacy. Even pre-COVID, the number of legal professionals working outside the office was growing fast. That extends beyond gradually more liberal work-from-home policies; the train, the airport and the café have also increasingly featured as a venue for work in recent years.

1.

Ensuring a
good working experience...
from anywhere

quote-image1.png

“When people start to get back on the move – in cars, showrooms, coffee shops, client meeting rooms – we might see some of the legacy technology come under strain.”

Jonathan Swan
Operations & IT Director
Roythornes

Survey: Share of legal professionals accessing services on mobile devices

Legal professionals were asked in early 2020 whether they used mobile devices (Android and iOS) to conduct their work. More than four in five used one for at least email, with most also using video conferencing on the go. No more than a third used mobile for document management, cloud storage or other more complex tasks, suggesting that while the mentality of ‘work from anywhere’ was in place, the systems and processes were not suitable for full-fledged mobile working.

One of the most difficult challenges for IT has always been the disparity between remote workers (including those on mobile) and traditional working. Distributed workforces need access to the same tools and support that fixed workers do, but IT typically doesn’t have the visibility, diagnostics, security or technologies in place to be able to help them. Ultimately, the end user experience of working outside the office is significantly degraded.

A poor user experience can have a meaningful impact. Frustrated employees are far more likely to leave, and productivity can take a big hit when the experience is inadequate. Given that many law firms bill in small increments – often just six minutes – this can have a measurable impact upon the bottom line.

“The user experience at home needs to be just as consistent and just as seamless as going into the office."

Andrew Yearsley, CTO
Bishop Fleming

Consider the following frustrations:

• Microsoft Teams or Zoom call audio/video issues

• Reauthenticating constantly throughout the day

• Struggling with slow network performance

• Frequent network disconnects

• Application crashes

• Failure to access cloud resources

Survey: Number one IT priority for 2021 at law firms

Moving to the cloud and adopting zero trust are both colossal and important undertakings, but more law firms are primarily focused on improving end user experience than those two projects combined.

Research on the employee experience (EX) in mid-2020 reveals that while two in three remote workers encountered an IT issue in lockdown, over half (57%) didn’t even report it to their IT team. This lack of visibility into experience issues is one of most difficult challenges facing the modern law firm, meaning helpdesk tickets and reactive support will not go far enough in improving the EX. This problem is compounded by the fact that most law firms do nothing to proactively monitor the EX - the same research showed that 58% do not monitor the end user experience at all, making establishing a baseline almost impossible.

quote-image2.png

Jonathan Swan
Operations & IT Director
Roythornes

“There will need to be more digitalization to support ‘working from anywhere.’ I have doubts about current tech stacks, and whether they can meet the demands of the ‘working from anywhere’ model. The market is in need of additional tools to make that user experience what they expect it to be.”

Jas Bassi
Head of Solution Delivery
Gately Legal

Survey: What would make the single biggest difference to the experience of remote fee earners?

So how can the employee experience be improved if so much is still unknown? Many law firms are turning to dedicated experience monitoring tools, gathering telemetry data to better diagnose issues as they emerge. Some of these technologies also allow for the aggregate analysis of the experience problems encountered by remote workers, allowing for administrators to flag common issues and remediate at scale – whether that is upgrading a particular device type, migrating from a legacy app to a modern alternative or applying new network policies.

When IT leaders at law firms were asked to share the type of issue that they believed would make the biggest improvement to the EX, the most frequently cited was network performance (47%). Employees could have the best software with the least obtrusive security, yet if the underlying network is unreliable then the entire effort is rendered meaningless. The network has never been more important, so ensuring high performance is crucial.

“The best secure access tools – both VPNs and ZTNAs – will actively improve the quality of the network. Modern security software can reduce latency and optimize the connection, so it’s imperative that law firms start to swiftly move away from legacy solutions that degrade the network and, in turn, the lawyer experience”

Nick Hayne
Head of Professional Services
Quiss

These are a small selection of the most common frustrations facing employees that are amplified when working from anywhere. Even if each issue results in a conservative one minute of lost productivity per day, that quickly becomes 30 minutes per week. At typical lawyer rates, that is $175 in lost billable minutes, or more than $8000 a year per fee earner. Improving the employee experience means improving the bottom line. It’s no surprise that IT leaders listed improving the end user experience as their top priority for the future more than any other initiative.