Law firms can leverage technology to become more profitable, according to futurist Craig Rispin, a speaker at the upcoming Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) National Summit.
What are some of the major issues law firms should be thinking about when it comes to technology?
Technology is having a big impact on law firms across the board. Two things that I have been speaking about a lot recently are getting on board with cloud solutions and recognising security threats. The two are actually related because cloud applications are an easy way for firms to minimise costs by hosting documents in the cloud, and at the same time many of these cloud services offer better security than a firm could afford for their own systems. Look at Amazon Web Services, which will spend $32 billion dollars on security this year – far beyond the capability of even Australian banks, let alone law firms.
Which law firms are “doing it right”?
I work with small, medium and large firms and many are taking steps in the right direction. There is one firm in Washington called Clearspire that is a great example. It originated with a business optimisation mindset and the founders were not actually lawyers. The firm has been very successful because it asked clients ‘what do you hate most about your lawyers’ and then set up a business that addressed those issues. One of the major things that came up was that clients resent paying for their lawyer’s swish offices, so Clearspire set up low-cost office spaces allowing them to charge clients less.
What do you say to lawyers who are reluctant to reduce their billable hours?
Client tolerance for bills that incorporate office management costs is steadily decreasing, so the focus really needs to be on value not billable hours. By implementing efficient systems and using technology to reduce operating cost, firms are winning clients by offering the same quality of advice at a lower price.
What will your session at ALPMA be covering and who should attend?
I’m running a workshop called Leveraging Technology for Profitability & Innovation. It’s for law firm managers and leaders without a strong IT/technology background but who want to improve the way their firm leverages technology for competitive advantage. We’ll discuss how to develop a technology strategy for your firm, how to manage the risks associated with technology and reap the promised rewards. We’ll also look at a range of technologies (from collaboration tools, mobility, discovery and cloud to workflow automation, document management and CRM systems) for law firms.
This interview with Craig Rispin (pictured) was facilitated by Encompass, a sponsor of the ALPMA Summit. Lawyers Weekly is also a media sponsor for the event. The Summit will be held at the Melbourne Crown Convention Centre from 27-29 August. You can find out more information here.