With technology usage ramped up by the global COVID-19 pandemic, forward-thinking law firms are increasingly looking to invest in smart technology solutions that enable their lawyers to thrive, regardless of physical location. Whether firms want to attract top talent with flexibility, work more collaboratively as an organisation, or offer clients a more sophisticated experience, post-pandemic, decisions makers are taking a strategic approach into 2021.
HOW HAS CLOSE TO A YEAR OF REMOTE WORKING INFLUENCED YOUR TECHNOLOGY BUDGETS OR SPENDING FOR 2021? WHAT KINDS OF TECHNOLOGY WILL YOU BE INVESTING IN GOING FORWARD?
SUE KENCH, global chief executive, King Wood & Mallesons
We continue to adapt our IT offering for 2021 based on the unprecedented circumstances of 2020; however, as a firm we have always sought to provide technical solutions that support a ‘work from anywhere’ environment for our partners and staff. Our focus for 2021 will be on using our technology budget to further embed this approach, optimising the way we collaborate internally and with our clients (including via webinars and virtual events), adopting targeted legal tech to deliver smarter and better services for our clients, enhancing digital literacy and adaptability amongst our teams, and continuing to strengthen our information security. Agility and cybersecurity remain key focuses.
SHARON SER, Hong Kong managing partner, Withers
The year 2020 saw us move to new cloud-enabled offices in Asia, reflecting our continued investment in technology that empowers our lawyers to efficiently support clients’ requests seamlessly from any location. Extending across our global offices, these technologies include softphone capabilities, cloud video conferencing capabilities, in-office technology to facilitate the client’s preferred cloud communication solution; and widespread adoption of Microsoft collaboration tools. We have also launched a range of mobile applications which allow scanning, expense management, collaboration, time recording, partner voting, and intranet access to be available from any location. The current pandemic brings about an acceleration of, rather than a change to, our technology strategy. Withers will continue to invest in modern technologies which support and enhance working practices in order to best serve our clients. A key enabler is our digital strategy, which in conjunction with a review of our working practices across the firm, is implementing modern workflow and automation technologies to drive greater efficiency across our processes. We embrace artificial intelligence (AI) as a key technology for supporting the improvement and effectiveness of these processes. For example, we are working with a start-up in the UK on the development of an AI-driven drafting tool to make this process as seamless as possible.
MICHAEL BARRETT, chief information officer, Dechert
Dechert’s core capabilities and equipment to support remote working were already in place when the pandemic hit. In 2021, we will continue to focus our investments on expanding the firm’s platform and training capabilities to allow the in-house development of bespoke, firm-wide, AI-based solutions and products that best address the needs of our practice groups and clients, and do most to foster internal and external virtual collaboration.
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