Paradise lost: underutilizing tech is a competitive disadvantage

Nov 8, 2017

Paradise LostThe legal profession has been known to lag behind other industries when it comes to adopting technology, and even those firms that have invested in digital solutions are missing out on many of its benefits, says Korbitec Inc. president Alan Bass.

The underutilization of technology, he says, is one of the biggest sources of lost opportunity.

“Firms that have purchased software sometimes struggle just to get their staff to come to training,” Bass says. “Often, the lawyers don’t attend because they’re ‘too busy.’” 

Even when staff are trained, there can be a reluctance to actually use the software.

“Firms are challenged to get people to change,” Bass says. “And often law firms give their staff the choice to use the new technology, which is surprising because if the management has done its due diligence and believe a certain technology tool is of benefit to the firm, why aren’t they putting mechanisms in place to get people to use it?”

Firms that have invested in software, also often don’t realize its full capabilities.

Bass has worked with clients who have mentioned new products they would like to deploy.  “I’ll say, ‘Don’t you know you already have that feature in-house?’ And quite often they don’t.”

Korbitec attempts to overcome these challenges by creating ongoing relationships with their clients, especially through continuing training that is free and flexible.  

“Our training is never a one-off,” Bass says. “We don’t subscribe to the philosophy that you train people on a piece of software, send them away, and if they need help they call you.”

After an initial session, which can even be scheduled outside of office hours to suit a firm’s schedule, Korbitec returns every six to 12 months for refresher training on its software, including its leading product, Automated Civil Litigation, which cuts the time required to prepare legal documents from hours to minutes. Korbitec also offers one-on-one sessions if individuals need additional training. And the company also sends out a tip of the week to its user base.

“We try hard to make people aware, and remind them of the great features we offer,” Bass says.  

To help entice lawyers to come to training, continuing professional development (CPD) credits can be earned for learning ACL.

Korbitec’s training includes walk-arounds, where members of the company’s support team will talk to law firm staff to understand why people may not be using the software — or not using it to its full benefit. Korbitec’s support staff are all former legal assistants or law clerks, who understand the needs of the software’s users.

“We also track usage,” Bass says. Korbitec will reach out to client firms to let them know if the software seems to be underutilized.

He wonders if the acceleration of technological change, and the increasing pressures to keep up, might be making things worse for firms that are already struggling to adopt, implement and maintain software.

“There’s been such an influx of new technologies in the last few years, some think it compounds the problem,” he says.

Simple communication could solve a great amount of waste and redundancy around technology, Bass says. He suggests head offices let all of their locations know of which technologies they’ve purchased, and that firms check with their head office or IT department before researching new solutions, to see if there’s already a product available in-house.  

Despite all of the technology adoption challenges he’s observed, Bass remains very optimistic.

“I think many firms are realizing they have to act more like a business. To effectively compete in 2017 and beyond, they need to be more efficient and innovative and I think there is a genuine interest from most firms to adopt new technology and to be better at their jobs”.