What has changed in legal tech over the year – three trends

Hello, Habr! I am a CMO on a project XSUD and decided to share analytical material on how quarantine, the transition to telecommuting and online affected the work of those who deal with legal issues in large companies. Including those with whom we work.

Photo: Bruno Emmanuelle / Unsplash.com
Photo: Bruno Emmanuelle / Unsplash.com

Blown away the pathos

Last year, lawyers and their assistants were forced to leave the equipped offices and start working from home. We moved to the “remote location” in whole units and in a rather haste order – quarantine measures were introduced quickly, so many did not have time to prepare a separate workplace for themselves, and most simply did not have such an opportunity – together with them, their loved ones temporarily became homeworkers. For the first time, and for quite a long time, lawyers got in touch from the sofa in the living room, kitchen or even from the bedroom, or they chose from the monotonous backgrounds in Zuma.

Such conditions of communication instantly leveled the visual hierarchy – the heads of legal departments were no longer sitting at large tables in spacious offices, but were next to their subordinates – in exactly the same “rectangle” of the video calling application. The degree of their influence, the level of salary and bonuses were now hardly distinguishable, therefore communication became much easier in many ways. The actual hierarchy in large law firms and departments became an order of magnitude flatter – colleagues were valued solely for how and what kind of work they do remotely, how well they manage to combine responsibilities, and also for the ability to intercept tasks and lend a shoulder to a partner at the right time.

Photo: Sigmund / Unsplash.com
Photo: Sigmund / Unsplash.com

The way back is hardly possible. Lawyers continue to work at home, and many of them are happy with this state of affairs. Therefore, it is worth expecting that along with the ongoing deflation of the pyramidal org. the structure of legal departments will change both the names of positions and their content. Senior lawyers will likely prefer to bring assistants to at least junior level, while companies will rally the ranks of time-tested employees and will rarely hire newcomers. At a minimum, this approach can be maintained until the end of this and early next year.

Among the advantages for corporate and external clients is a more thoughtful and benevolent attitude on the part of those lawyers who managed to hold their positions during the crisis and appreciate the degree of importance of the counterparties they deal with. In a word, it will be a little easier to communicate with specialists, even for those who interact not with “living” people, but with legal services. Today, they are similarly transforming their expert staff, becoming more responsive to customer requests and truly customer-centric.

Needed media

As communications move online, legal departments and in-house specialists have begun to pay more attention to how they are represented online. Time was found for this, as soon as the lawyers got used to their home environment and got used to telecommuting. Along with new microphones for video calls, interest in this environment has grown in webinars, podcasting, video streaming, and YouTube production. They even started to conduct online conferences and, as a result, more write about this market in the media.

Publications in the media have become a kind of roll call of those who were able to withstand the first blows of the crisis and wanted to demonstrate their readiness to help clients and colleagues in solving both local problems here and now, and strategic tasks “at a long distance.”

Photo: Rome Wilkerson / Unsplash.com
Photo: Rome Wilkerson / Unsplash.com

Even those legaltech teams that experienced complexity, but of course there were fewer such materials. The teams behaved relatively quietly, which already had something to do. Our specialists most of the last year were engaged automation of the largest legal unit in the country – the legal department of the Ministry of Defense, which employs more than two and a half hundred lawyers. According to our estimates, none of the competitors had such a large-scale project. Working with such structures can be very non-standard – for example, we needed to deploy the system on several loops in order to meet the requirements for each of them from the point of view of information security. Such experience has yet to be analyzed in detail, but one thing is clear – we will share our expertise on its basis online.

Services are no longer a “toy”

The rate of development of technological solutions only grew during the crisis. At a minimum, the major players in the legaltech field have presented updates to their products. We also had to expand our staff and work on attracting developers and analysts with significant experience in the market to the XSUD team – without them it would be difficult to maintain the pace of development and meet customer requirements. Surprisingly, their attitude towards services has changed as well.

The public sector in all its diversity has finally switched to mass digitalization. Three quarters of our clients are this is certain state structures. Their management is focused on automating most of the processes, including the work of legal departments, so the overall level of demand for our services and software even increased to some extent against the backdrop of the economic downturn.

Along with this, the usual image of the state customer has also changed. Today, like any other client, he primarily thinks about convenience: how the services look and how accessible the functionality declared for them is. This is the main thing he pays attention to, in addition to the cost of implementing solutions. Also – looks at versions of corporate applications for major mobile platforms. Therefore, in terms of updates, we focus on usability, quality of interface solutions, support for corporate mobility and functionality for remote work.

For comparison, I will give an example of what lawyers usually see. This is a bunch of windows, tabs, folders, various programs and services (on the left side of the image) and with our product XSUD (on the right) – a clean interface and the ability to set tasks, schedule events and do all things in one program.

At the same time, in our case, we are not talking about sales, for the sake of sales. We provide even demo access only after an online meeting with a client. Together with him, it is important for us to make sure that his tasks can be solved and really make the work more efficient. When we find a common language, we open the product for a week or for two or three – depending on the complexity of organizing the trial process on the client’s side and his specific wishes. From the point of view of subsequent implementation and work with XSUD, this approach allows you to reduce the preparatory stage to a minimum and form the expectations of each of the parties.

This applies not only to government customers, but also applies to the second half of our portfolio – private business. Basically, these are large organizations, whose specificity implies a significant volume of court cases and the presence of entire departments, consisting of a dozen or more lawyers and their assistants. We help such units to cope with case management, accounting, reporting and other tasks. However, such departments often do not provide modern tools and automated solutions, and they have been working for years with outdated software that can no longer be abandoned overnight. Therefore, we often have to refine the system in order to integrate it with what is already in place and functioning in place. Hence the requirement to understand all the initial data at the stage of testing the trial version and a detailed discussion of the client’s tasks – today this process turns into a separate and painstaking procedure.

What else do we have on Habré:

  • The Year of Telecommuting: How He Corrected the Misconceptions of Beginning “Remote Workers”

  • Workplace behavior is increasingly a reason for dismissal

  • More and more people are fired for publications on social networks – what you should know about it

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