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Law & Order: What’s next for legal firms in 2017?

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In the modern world, business growth is often heralded as the Holy Grail, with many companies putting new revenue streams and increased productivity ahead of any other elements of their business. However, our research into the IT use of 150 law professionals in the UK shows this isn’t the case in the legal sector – with law firms citing an improved client experience as the key challenge they are aiming to overcome in 2017.

A few years ago, it was thought the main challenges facing the legal sector revolved around minimising risk, security and regulatory compliance. However, it seems times have changed and more are focused on a customer-centric approach to business, with 35 per cent seeing this as the main challenge to drive business growth. In the digital age, clients expect excellent service, so whether they are dealing with lawyers using a mobile device or face-to-face, there should be a seamless transition of information to ensure firms are adding value at every turn.

This same issue has been seen in businesses across all sectors and the legal industry is clearly preparing to meet client demand this year and it’s vital they do so – failing to listen to customer demand may result in a loss of clients. This wasn’t the only area law firms are looking to improve in the next twelve months however.

  • Reducing costs – Almost a third of legal firms stated cutting expenditure was integral to their planned success this year. This comes at a time when the sector is becoming increasingly digitised, which may at first seem contradictory but investing in technology can reduce costs in the long run. For example, meetings with international partners can be held over video conference calls, saving potentially thousands every year.
  • Enhancing operational efficiencies – 24 per cent of law firms see increased efficiency as central to their plans for 2017. Of course, each legal business will tackle this in its own way, but this is clearly a key issue for the coming year. Technology will be central to this and it may only be a matter of time before the likes of Ross Intelligence ensure artificial intelligence is automating the time consuming research aspect of the sector, freeing up time to add further value to clients.
  • Improved productivity – Hand in hand with operational efficiency is increased productivity, with more than a fifth of the legal sector viewing this as a challenge for this year. Once technology has automated admin tasks, lawyers can look inwards to question how to increase their own productivity. Whether it’s working with clients over real-time communication platforms or cutting the time spent commuting to and from meetings when VOIP will suffice, productivity is key in the competitive world of law.
  • Regulatory complianceRed tape is a common hindrance for businesses across the UK, but this is especially prevalent in the legal sector. As the UK is now on the cusp of invoking Article 50, the legal sector is about to enter a complex period of change, as it’s currently unclear exactly how much legislation will be rewritten or abolished completely as a result. This is the single biggest change facing the industry and it’s vital firms are prepared to tackle the challenging times ahead. It’s therefore unsurprising legal businesses see regulatory compliance and the constant state of flux this causes as a challenge for the next twelve months. However, as technology helps to automate this, as well as freeing up time to handle such difficulties by simplifying other key processes, the challenge faced here is lessening year on year.

2017 is set to be one of great change in the legal sector and if you, like those we surveyed, would like to find out more about how technology can support business growth, then download our research report here.

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