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17 May 2017 at 15:49 BST

Managing partners confused over legal tech strategy

Law firms are divided over leading the technology revolution or being a 'fast follower' as they struggle to cope with the changing attitudes of clients.

Law firm partners are confused over tech strategy Sergey Nivens

Many of the larger and more global firms are opting to pioneer new technologies to stay ahead of the competition, according to the research of top law firms by accountants BDO. However an equal number are adopting a more cautious stance - carefully observe the competition before investing in new tech solutions. Being a ‘fast-follower’ was seen by some to be a strategically smarter move than investing large capital in new technology while the market is still trying to understand the changing client demands.  The Law Firm Leadership Survey polled the managing partners and senior partners of 50 leading law firms and revealed that more than 80 per cent of participants saw technology as the factor most likely to have the greatest impact on their firm. Within every geographic group, law firm leaders were twice as likely to select technology as any other single factor, and 94 per cent  of considered technology a strategic priority for their business.    

Artificial intelligence

Law firm leaders said artificial intelligence (AI) would have the greatest impact, with many believing it would replace the work of lawyers, or strip out a significant layer of work and revenue from law firms. This will in turn bring about changes to their resourcing mix business models and financial structures at law firms. However, many also said the effect of AI was unpredictable and its scale still largely unknown. When asked what the greatest challenge their firms face in keeping up with the pace of technological change, just under half (49 per cent) said that cultural change is the biggest barrier to innovation. This combines 29 per cent who said that cultural change across the firm was the greatest challenge, with 20 per cent who thought cultural change amongst the partnership was more specifically the issue.


Nick Carter-Pegg, Head of Professional Services Group at BDO, said that one of the key challenges of technology  was how to fund the investment in technology, in the partnership model, in order to keep up to date with the competition.'We are seeing several pioneering solutions entering the market. Law firm leaders are either embracing this transformation or they are waiting to see what the competition is doing. It remains to be seen who will be the winners and the losers.' 


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