Technologically Advanced Law Firms More Attractive To Clients

A recent article on Law.com by D. Casey Flaherty takes an interesting look at the impact to companies when utilizing law firms that are not very efficient when it comes to using the power of technology.  Mr. Flaherty who works for Kia Motors America was charged with auditing outside council too see the impact of waste.  He states “I audit outside counsel’s competence with technology. The audit is driven by fear — fear of wasting company money on low value-added work. The audit tests my hypothesis that lawyers, as a group, are deficient in their use of technology and that a direct consequence of this incompetence is that clients, like my company, Kia Motors America, outlay outrageous sums for unnecessary busywork. Thus far, my audit has confirmed my hypothesis.”  Why is this important to clients?  Because At $200 to $400 per associate hour waste can be very expensive.

Failure when it comes to a technology audit could cost your firm valuable clients.  Mr. Flaherty points out that “Of the nine major firms I have audited, all nine have failed — some more miserably than others. A few of these firms were auditioning for work and were not retained. Other firms, including longtime incumbents, agreed to rate reductions. One firm, for example, took an across-the-board 5 percent reduction that will be restored if they are able to pass a subsequent audit. Another firm agreed to a significant investment in associate training and has worked closely with me to upgrade a substantial number of their internal practices and processes. Finally, audit results influence my review of counsels’ billing entries.”.

You don’t need to fail an audit to alert your client to your inefficiencies.  General communications with your clients will tell a technological savvy customer if you and your firm are on the cutting edge and are efficient with your time and their money.

Some firms like Winston & Strawn LLP use technology as benefit to doing business with them.  You can see by this statement on their website that the use of cutting edge technology is a big part of this firms culture: “Winston & Strawn is among the most technologically advanced law firms in the world. We are committed to using state-of-the-art hardware and software in innovative ways to improve the efficiency and quality of our legal services on a continuous basis. Our dedication in this area has earned us a technology ranking of No. 21 overall among 170 firms in AmLaw Tech‘s 2006 “Tech Scorecard.” Our firm has a large team of professionals dedicated to servicing the technology needs of both our attorneys and clients. This team is responsible for building and delivering the most advanced technology systems and for providing the necessary technical training for all levels — from the newest associate to the most senior partner.”

Any person looking to hire a firm should ask how they utilize technology in their practice.  After all, it is your money that will be either saved or lost.

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