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Managing Legal Matters from Where You Really Live

Steven O'Donnell |

One thing that’s come through loud and clear from our clients over the years?  Enterprise legal management software should never increase the time they spend on trivial tasks.

Yet the average end user of legal technology can lose between 30 and 60 minutes per week switching between disparate applications, navigating screens, and re-inputting information, according to an analysis by Hobson & Company.

This seems contrary to the entire idea of “labor-saving” technologies, doesn’t it?

But time is one of the most costly commodities an in-house legal department has to manage. Wasting it, even by only a few moments here and there, drives down performance.

Why force users outside their comfort zone?

One point of resistance in any organization, let alone the legal department, when it comes to adopting a new technology? It’s when that new tech forces employees to do familiar work outside of tried-and-true tools they’re already adept at using.

Losing sight of “labor-saving”

The average end user of legal technology can lose between 30 and 60 minutes per week switching between disparate applications, navigating screens, and re-inputting information.

Gaining user adoption is essential to maximizing the return you get on any legal tech investment, like an enterprise legal management platform. And those new tools are most valuable when they’re being used to their full capability.

Yet some ELM products throw up their own adoption roadblocks. How? By asking users to abandon entrenched tools that may still be perfectly adequate. Or by not integrating with those tools, or only delivering feeble “integration” that’s hardly worthy of the word.

Also? It betrays the fact that the developers and product managers behind these products aren’t really focusing on two key factors that impact end users: the technical and operational context within the legal departments where their technology is going to be used, and the quality of the user experience being given to the people using it.

User experience has to come first

After 30 years in enterprise legal management, we know user adoption is paramount, and user experience is key to adoption. When we canvassed our 500,000-strong user community in 2017 about what ELM purchasing criteria mattered to them most?  UX was at the forefront among mid-market decision-makers – even above price. 

Modern users of technology demand a modern experience. So the expectation of mobile optimization, integrations with everyday applications, and workflows that foster ease of use are all key elements that must drive product strategy.

Legal Software UX DesignOne measure of a seamless and efficient user experience? How well a new product integrates with the systems and the platforms people are already using the most.

This can be a particular sticking point with legal professionals. Non-adopters may already have concerns about the disruptive impact of legal tech. To inspire confidence, a software product’s user experience has to be user-focused and highly polished, but it also has to let users access the features of that product without being forced to jump out of their accustomed tools.

A legal tech provider with a dedicated UI/UIX team that regularly co-innovates with clients is going to be able to provide this kind of convenience.  It’s why UX design experts are so central to our own product teams.

Other providers, who don’t prioritize ease of use and integration, aren’t going to be around for the long haul. Why? Because customer expectations in legal tech are changing – gradually, but definitely.

Expectations are changing, and being changed

Recent research from Gartner seems to tell us in-house legal departments have a long way to go when it comes to embracing technology. In our own experience, though, we’re seeing changes in client expectations of legal tech. They prove that, yes, change is happening – and they speak to the importance of legal tech UX/UIX and how it’s shaping the market:

  1. The results of our own research prove that current adopters’ experience with best-in-class ELM products is driving more awareness of the value of superior user experience to ROI and performance.
  2. The Legal Rising movement is stirring demand for digital transformation among legal departments. Many of these first-time adopters will take a prudent, evaluative approach to investing in legal tech; they’re lawyers, after all.
  3. These new adopters will be more likely to be satisfied by enterprise legal management solutions that A) are more user-friendly and smartly integrated with prevalent tools like MS Office and Outlook, and B) don’t force negative disruption on attorneys and Legal Operations.