How Innovative Legal Tech Can Improve Lawyer Well-Being
Have lawyers replaced the paper chase with the tech chase? If so, let’s stop. We hated the paper chase and the tech chase is no different.
In August 2017, the American Bar Association published a report titled: “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being.” [Credit to Colleen Byers for the share.] The American Bar Association proudly advertised that over forty media outlets covered the report, discussing its findings and recommendations in a variety of contexts. It has been more than a year since that report was published, and what’s changed? Might it be time to start being the change we want to see in the profession: meaningful change that improves the well-being of your lawyer-colleagues and, in turn, the perception of lawyers by prospective clients?
Here’s one way, with a variety of applications, you can implement meaningful change in your practicing to improve your well-being: innovate and automate every part of your law practice that is not directly tied to revenue generation. Why does this matter?
First, innovation is a search, discovery, and application process. It is an iterative process that breathes life into stale processes. It discovers a new way of accomplishing a task and then helps others do the same.
Second, automation creates consistency and predictability. It prioritizes tasks based on the highest and best use of a human’s mind and, for those tasks that are “inhumane,” it finds a way to have something else (read: computer) get it done.
The automation point is huge. Lawyers often lament the human resource component of their practice. The common refrains: “staff turnover is high”; “it’s hard to find good help”; “I spend too much time managing people and I don’t think I’m good at it.” Those refrains are stressful. Instead of having a staff person assist with the routine blocking and tackling in your law practice, have that person be your chief automation officer. Empower that person to identify and develop solutions that automate your practice. It’s a higher and better use of a human’s mind, and it likely will result in greater job satisfaction for that person.
Why does this innovation/automation conversation matter? Both drive efficiency. Both empower. Both can change your life. But, both will make you uncomfortable. They will require you to reject a certain known way, in favor of an uncertain, but potentially better way.
So, how can legal tech improve lawyer well-being? Here’s how:
Integrated CRM and cloud-based, VOIP phone solutions with automated billing integrations;
Conditional logic to move prospective clients through the engagement and disengagement process;
GDPR and HIPPA compliant integrated analytics, and email integration, in a file management solution that allows for collaboration with third-parties;
Appropriately leveraging artificial intelligence to streamline the due diligence and legal research processes (understanding a tried and true IT cliche: garbage in, garbage out; credit Scott Addison);
Utilizing drafting automation tools to create templates and responses in shell documents; and
Utilizing proofreading analytics to identify common mistakes and facilitate timely and efficient revision of your work.
Fully-implementing these solutions in your practice will lead to a more fulfilling law practice and a healthier profession. Likewise, fully-implementing these solutions will change perceptions about a lawyer’s value proposition in the marketplace.
For 2019, be challenged by the opportunity to innovate and automate. Reject the historical aversion lawyers have to change. Be emboldened by the universal call to do things differently. Less talk. More doing. And finally, find a way to help your lawyer colleagues innovate and automate. We have a professional responsibility to each other in that regard. There’s no real business advantage to hiding your “perfect technology mousetrap” from your colleague. If anything, that exacerbates our well-being problem.