Legal Tech’s Paradox: It Helps, But Is Also Rather Frustrating – Report

Litera’s Changing Lawyer Report, which surveyed lawyers and ‘allied professionals’ across the US, UK and Europe, has found that the industry really does appreciate the value of technology – but many lawyers also find it rather frustrating….

….which seems to be something of a paradox. It also indicates a social proof challenge.

Here are some of the results that Litera put together (see graphs below). High proportions of lawyers felt that tech: saved money, allowed work to be completed more quickly, made the job easier, and allowed more collaborative working. So, all good there.

Litera data.

And this is not surprising for the most part, although the bit about ‘saving money’ was noteworthy as it would suggest that many of the respondents were not at law firms that worked on the billable hour – which seems unlikely. Hmmmm…….curious.

But, the survey also found that almost half of the lawyers questioned (47%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: ‘The technology I use at work is frustrating.’

Litera data.

Frustratingly the report doesn’t dig into why this is the case. However, one reason may simply be that the tech many lawyers are using is a bit old and clunky. Or, it could be new….and also clunky…!

We should not assume that all new software is easy to use – although one would hope that as the years go by better UI/UX steadily arrives in the legal market. But that may not always be the case.

Also, what about the paradox: if tech helps but is frustrating (i.e. is not totally helping), isn’t that something of a contradiction? As New Wave legend Toyah Wilcox once profoundly pointed out: it’s a mystery.

Perhaps one logical way out of this dilemma is to assume that although lawyers are not enamoured with the way the software they use actually works, they can see how it provides benefits to the business as a whole. I.e. they are ‘willing to take one for the team’ in terms of dealing with awful UI/UX.

This then suggests something more positive: that there is a lot of room in the legal tech market to provide products that will delight the users. And going back to the piece AL published yesterday about social proof, one can see that according to this data then not many lawyers who are using tech products at work would recommend them to others, because if the tech is ‘frustrating’ one would hardly tell your peers to go out and buy it – talk about a social proof fail.

To conclude, this data seems to underline a recurring challenge for software used by lawyers (and all humans really), namely that the very clever technologists who have designed it may have built something that works on paper – it’s just not always a pleasure to use…..and that is a huge opportunity for those legal tech companies that can deliver a great user experience and differentiate themselves from the rest of the market, and in turn generate a positive vibe across the wider group of users. Remember: social proof matters.

(Demographics: the survey covered: 300 lawyers at law firms (80 employees minimum); and 100 ‘allied professionals’ in law firms, working in operations, data management, or project management and other roles. The respondents were based in North America, the UK, DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), France, Benelux, and Italy. The research consisted of the survey, plus some qualitative interviews with experts, and some third-party research sources.)

1 Comment

  1. A very interesting article and it would be useful to see how much of the frustration is because of lack of training in using software. Working with many different law firms and auditing a great many systems one feature I see on a regular basis is a complete lack of training of the user of the software and a reluctance by users to adopt to a new type of working routine. Change is difficult for all, history tells us that. Can we imagine a world where a person walked in front of a car with a red flag for example. I very much doubt it. Perhaps if when choosing software some time was taken in demonstrating that software or , if the software companies allowed better and longer trials with feedback and a helpful desk to allow a cohort of staff to test there wouldn’t be the issues. Or , sorry Partners and Directors of law firms , bring in experts to help you choose the software dont fall for the sales pitch but actually bring in someone who can challenge and bring in some of your fee earners into the pitch meeting. Just a thought.

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