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How can small and medium-sized law firms benefit from digital transformation?

23. Sep 2018 | Digital Transformation for Law Firms

You might know the problem: Everyone talks, nobody acts. This is especially true when it comes to the digital transformation of law firms.

If you look around the trade press, the digital transformation of legal practice is a hotly debated topic, but often only from the perspective of threat.

In this blog post I would like to show you two ways of paving the way for you to implement digital transformation in your business.

Have you noticed that?

If you look around the specialist press, the digital transformation of legal practice is a hotly debated topic, but often only from the perspective of threat. What is lacking are concrete, feasible concepts with which a lawyer can embark on the path of digitalization.

Yes, the topic of digitisation is a hotly debated one, and it often amounts to a kind of religious dispute. The British lawyer Richard Susskind is regarded as the enfant terrible of his guild and regularly makes his colleagues’ heads turn red with his prognoses for the future. To their great displeasure he was often right in the past. Have a look at this great article by the leading swiss newspaper “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”.

How can a small law firm turn digital transformation into a competitive advantage?

However, the digital transformation of legal advice also creates opportunities – and there are great opportunities out there. But why is it so difficult to recognize them and implement them in your own business? How can small and medium-sized law firms in particular benefit from the opportunities offered by digitization without having to set up their own legal tech startup?

In this blog post I would like to show you two ways of paving the way for you to implement digital transformation in your business. In addition, you can obtain the checklist “The digital transformation in the law firm – 7 proven steps for rapid implementation” free of charge here. So you can get started today.

Digital transformation for lawyers also means to learn supposedly familiar concepts again – sometimes from scratch

Why is this so? Before we dive into the subject, I would like to make two points in advance. It is important to understand them correctly.

Firstly, in the following paragraphs we will talk about terms such as “business model” or “marketing”. Of course, you know these concepts, right? However, the principles behind have received new meaning in the context of digitization.

Marketing in particular has undergone a real paradigm shift, which has led to a completely different attitude towards digital marketing today – if you approach it correctly.

Very few lawyers are aware of this, and this is probably one of the main reasons why many attorneys find digital transformation of the law firm so difficult.

Secondly, you may know the term “mindset”. It essentially expresses how we adjust to a reality, literally how we adjust our mind. Digitisation can only succeed if you take the right mindset. Here, too, the following applies: the unsuitable mindset is a major reason why so many law firms perceive digitization as primarily damaging to their business.

Changes only benefit those who are prepared for them. Louis Pasteur

French microbiologist from the 18th century

Let me put it in the words of Louis Pasteur, the co-founder of medical microbiology in the 19th century. He, too, lived at a time when increasing industrialization was disruptively ploughing up entire fields of business. But – he was one of those who had recognized the opportunities.

With his research, he made a major contribution to the progress of mankind, and we owe the process of pasteurization to him. He put it this way: “Changes only benefit those who are prepared for them”.

The two levers of Digital Transformation you can quickly implement: The business model and marketing

Digitalization is often understood as the digital improvement of existing business processes. This is fine, but has nothing to do with digital transformation. The former is merely a classic optimization, as companies have been doing for centuries.

It becomes really interesting when we go to the level of the business model. Legal tech companies are typical examples of this. The legal tec startup www.flighright.de is an example for this.

Let’s take a very basic look at their business model:

Firstly: Specialize in a hyper-small niche: travel compensation in air travelling (this is positioning)
Secondly: Automate the processes as much as possible (this is automation)
Thirdly: Ensure that passengers are made aware of this service (this is marketing)

Ok, now of course the question arises: What can you do to put your business model on a new basis?

What can you do to put your business model on a new basis?

Be serious concerning the  strategic development of your law firm

Yes, I know that most lawyers do not have time for activities that are not directly reflected in revenue. To be honest: So far, they have lived in a quite comfortable position of not having to do this.

However, this time-turnover model of exchanging one’s time for revenue on an hourly basis is on a sluggish track. Your own time is limited, and hourly rates are coming under pressure with the emergence of legal tech companies.

But here are the good news.

The good thing is that digitization offers you the opportunity to bring your expertise to the market in a scaled form. In other words, you can leave the above-mentioned time-turnover model. That’s where the big opportunity is – so real scaling becomes possible, even to small law firms.

How exactly does this work? That’s what you can read in the next blog post.