Can Good Technology Help Retain Legal Staff?

Against a backdrop of an increasingly dynamic job market, rising rates of legal burnout and tech-savvy incoming graduates, attracting and retaining bright young lawyers is more important than ever for law firms around the world. says Mike Birt, IT Expert for the Legal Sector.

Staff turnover has a serious impact on a company, costing time, resources and money. In fact, a report by Oxford Economics reveals that it costs more than £30,000 on average for a company to replace one employee. In the legal sector that rises to £39,897 making it the most expensive sector in the survey.

With costs so high firms need a USP to both attract and retain staff. Could technology provide this? Can good technology help retain legal staff in this competitive world.

The benefits of legal tech

In this context, access to best-in-class technology is crucial. Today’s employees demand a digital-savvy workplace, and this has only increased as a result of COVID-19.

Research published in technology magazine Information Age shows that in the 12 months to May 2021, the number of workers who have quit their job due to outdated technology increased from 21% to 32%. In fact, nearly half of all UK workers (49%) now say they will quit their job if their work technology isn’t up to standard.

But rather than viewing this as a threat, employers should look upon technology as a major opportunity. A number of digital innovations have come along, designed to make legal teams smarter, learner and more efficient.

Legal tech is designed to remove the tedious grind and drudgery from lawyers. This allows them to focus on tasks which are more rewarding – both emotionally and financially.

Let’s look at two use cases where legal tech makes a tangible difference.

1. Automating contract reviews

Contract reviews are an unavoidable part of every contracting process, but they’re also time-consuming and monotonous. The problem is that a lawyer doesn’t know which parts of the contract will contain risk. Unless they read the whole document.

Hours are spent reviewing a contract only to discover that 95% of it is perfectly acceptable. Every word needs to be read to identify the small percentage that requires redlining.

A Contract Acceleration Platform automates this previously manual task. AI reviews the contract against two parameters:

  1. The company’s risk policy playbook that specifies what is and isn’t acceptable
  2. How the company’s lawyers have previously acted when presented with specific wording or clauses

A risk report is then produced that tells the lawyer which parts of the contract need further work. There is no longer a need to spend valuable time reading the whole contract. The lawyer need only focus on the highlighted areas.

This adds speed to contracting and ensures momentum is not lost. Contracts are no longer ‘stuck in legal’ and companies can get to signature faster, pulling revenue into the business. And all this is achieved by making life faster and easier for in-house lawyers.

2. Contract data exploration

As a lawyer you need to be constantly aware of how your obligations are impacted by external changes. In recent years we can look at GDPR, Brexit and the end of LIBOR as such examples. All of these events have come with a degree of forewarning; lawyers had a chance to prepare accordingly.

Other scenarios, such as the global pandemic and its impact on supply chains, happened almost overnight. Lawyers were left scrambling to review their contracts to look for force majeure clauses and assess how their obligations or risks had changed.

The challenge here is that such endeavours have always been manual, time-consuming tasks. Armies of paralegals were dispatched to unearth historical contracts and search each and every one for a single, specific term.

The good news is that a Contract Automation Platform creates digital assets of each contract as part of the initial review. Digital assets are much faster and simpler to search than paper versions. They are also far easier to store and manage, with all digital files conveniently collated in one central location.

As a result, lawyers can quickly assess the company’s contractual obligations, and any risks are minimised.

A win-win scenario for lawyers and the business

In both of the above examples, technology allows lawyers to do their day-to-day work faster. Not only that, their work becomes more consistent. By creating a digitalised playbook for managing risk, automation covers any knowledge gaps between junior and senior lawyers; the younger members of staff can get up to speed quickly and approaches to key tasks can be standardised.

Most importantly of all, knowledge can be shared across the business and there are no more silos. Legal tech offers a centralised digital hub for all lawyers and non-lawyers alike. When a lawyer does leave (and even in the most digital-savvy companies, everyone will have to leave at some point) vital knowledge will be retained in these central vaults, ready to be passed onto their replacement.

These benefits will be felt every single day. To paraphrase the popular saying about robot workers, legal technology packages never get sick or turn up late. They never need holidays. But beyond that, they will relieve the pressure on human lawyers.

Lawyers benefit directly by removing the tedious, manual work from their in-trays. Instead, they have more time to focus on more rewarding work. With hours of manual contract reviews stripped out, in-house legal teams can focus on higher-value, strategic advisory services to their colleagues. This more fulfilling work is ideal for keeping morale high – and keeping your best legal talent in your company.

Making work easier is one way that good technology can help retain legal staff. But there are other demands that must be met. HR and Continuous Professional Development are two more key areas here good tech can help retain legal staff

Microlearning

Microlearning provides a quick activity or lesson to train a user on a single item or issue. Typically delivered in short digital video modules and/or games. These activities may be delivered as a series or included as part of training for a specific task or outcome. Microlearning easily fits within an employee’s schedule. It is easy to use, can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, and offers immediate and practical outcomes.

Learning Experience Platforms

The learning experience platform (LXP) builds on the static resources of the traditional learning management system (LMS) to create a more dynamic and useful user experience. It enables users to add content — corporate learning modules and documents as well as resources from social media and the internet — and make them accessible to other users, who can comment and share. Because the users primarily create and share the content, the format encourages employees to return more often than they do to mandated corporate training modules.

Employee Engagement Platforms

Higher job satisfaction is also the goal behind engagement platforms, which are a forum for regular feedback and coaching, encouragement, learning, competition, participation in team or social activities, personalization, and social recognition.

Engagement platforms offer a number of benefits. By aligning employees with business goals, today’s technology enables recognition by leaders, managers or peers. Unlike traditional manager-driven, top-down gratitude, these forums enable a more extensive social system where employees directly recognize each other. Finally, they provide analytics and reporting that traditional programs cannot deliver.

Flight-risk Analytics

Employee retention Technologies capitalise on the vast volume of data generated by an employee’s activity. They apply analytics to track engagement levels and predict when an employee is considering leaving the organization. Using the data, the employer can intervene early address issues and help influence employees to stay.

Intelligence provided by data and other AI capabilities can inform retention strategies by predicting flight risks. It can also identify top performers and determine where the organisation can improve engagement for all employees.

If this all feels a bit ‘big brother’ then remember that near £40k cost to replace an employee!

So Can Good Technology Help Retain Legal Staff?

All of which brings us back to our main question: Can Good Technology Help Retain Legal Staff.

Absolutely!

Combing technology that makes the job easier and assists learning and engagement addresses the needs of the modern work. Technology also allows the flexibility many crave from hybrid working, or working from home.

In the legal sector, more than most, to attract and retain the best young talent you need to have the best technology.

How We Can Help

We work with a number of law firms offering Fully Managed IT Support and Cyber Security Services. Because we know the sector we are able to provide tailored support that addresses the needs of solicitors firms of all sizes.

If you’ve got a specific issues, or you’d like a more general conversation about your IT lets organise an initial video call with our IT Expert for Legal Firms, Mike Birt.

There is no obligation to move to a full IT Assessment following this call. And no obligation to buy anything, ever.

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