Hurdles to tech innovation under the microscope

By Stefanie Garber|21 June 2016
Tech office

A new survey by Lawyers Weekly has identified the barriers stopping law firms from adopting transactional technology.

A total of 732 respondents from the legal profession participated in the Transaction Technology survey, which was delivered in partnership with InfoTrack and provided a snapshot of how technology is affecting legal transactions.

Asked about the hurdles to adopting new technologies within their firm, 60 per cent of respondents pointed to cost as a factor.

Smaller firms seemed to be particularly price-conscious, with around two thirds of respondents from firms with less than 20 partners citing cost as a barrier, compared to 54 per cent of those from firms with 101 partners or more.


Another major concern proved to be compatibility with existing systems, which was cited as a barrier by 43 per cent of respondents.

Lawyers also appear nervous about disturbances to their workflow, with one third citing the time required for implementation, the requirements of training staff or business disruption as a threat.

Interestingly, lawyers within firms – including senior associates and junior lawyers – were more likely to see disruption as a challenge compared to those in management positions like partners and principals.

Complacency also emerged as a threat to innovation, with large firms particularly concerned about this trend.

One in four lawyers at firms with more than 100 partners identified complacency as a threat, compared to one fifth of all respondents.


Despite these difficulties, however, lawyers overwhelmingly saw technology as an opportunity to deliver greater client satisfaction, decrease human error and allow for streamlined contract alterations.

One respondent suggested these technologies could allow firms to bill at a fixed fee, providing value to the client.

"The costs of transactions done manually such as sale of business or property take too long," the response said. "Technology will also enable firms to distinguish themselves from their competitors."

Similarly, a different respondent proposed technology could change the "stigma" that lawyers are "outdated and expensive".

"New technology will turn the antiquated legal profession into something that is more valuable to clients."

Another respondent saw the possibility of collaborating and breaking down silos, allowing the firm to "avoid misadministration and mismanagement and ensure efficient, effective service to clients".

As part of the survey, Lawyers Weekly asked respondents to answer "what is the greatest benefit new technology can bring to the legal industry in Australia?", with a bottle of Dom Perignon on the table for the most insightful answer.

The winner proved to be Talia Calgaro, an associate at Jones Day, who highlighted the traditional resistance to change within the legal sector.

"The legal profession runs the risk of being considered stagnant and archaic; new technology is the disruption we need to remain relevant," she wrote.

Hurdles to tech innovation under the microscope
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