7 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM “Clients are calling for law firms to innovate and provide more value for money services. Courts are evolving and digitizing actively forcing firms to comply with the same. Overheads are killing firms so any technology that can help increase the efficiency and productivity is being sought out. Market pressure is not being kind. In these challenging times, staying focused on the path ahead includes considering technology as an integral partner towards the success that law firms wish to achieve,” explains Mookerjee. Mookerjee points out that budgets for tech investment are increasing rapidly at law firms. “Post pandemic, there has been a boost in that direction. Ten years ago, legal tech wouldn’t have been on the priority list of a law firm. Today it probably figures in the top three.” Globally, 10-12 percent of annual budgets at law firms are towards technological advancements. However, Indian law firms are yet to meet that standard, Mookerjee says. Gupta at CAM explains that quantifying return on investment when it comes to technological infrastructure remains a challenge in law firm budgeting. “While quantifying the return on investment in the initial stages can be challenging, the impact on quality, time savings, and user experience can be measured during pilot stages,” Gupta explains. BUILDING A TECH ROADMAP What law firms do seem to agree on today is the right executive-level leadership is key is driving forward technological change into its process. A technology executive is responsible for building tech infrastructure broadly on two fronts: Internally to improve firm efficiencies, reduce overheads and better financial health; and externally to provide clients with tech-forward innovative solutions at competitive prices. As head of technology, an executive will examine existing infrastructure in the context of its alignment with the firm’s long-term growth and strategic objectives. “Creating a comprehensive technology roadmap always helps to define the movement from “as is” to the future stage,” Mookerjee says. Then the officer will about building the right capabilities suited to their firm, both immediate and in the long run. “When faced with a problem that requires a solution, I thoroughly evaluate both market-available solutions and the potential for developing a customized in-house solution,” explains Gupta. “If a solution is deemed impactful but requires changes to the existing setup, I advocate for these changes to be implemented first. During implementation, I invest significant time in providing regular training to end-users, managing expectations regarding the capabilities of the technology, monitoring impact and outcomes, and providing feedback for continuous improvement,” she says. Linking technology to the financial health of the law firm is a key task of technology officers. Harnessing generative AI to improve accounting, practice management, resource allocation, cybersecurity, business intelligence and ultimately profitability allows law firms to take control of their finances with unprecedented precision and ease. “For example, advanced analytics provides a panoramic view of a firm’s financial landscape, highlighting profitable areas and identifying where costs can be trimmed. Automation in billing has directly translated to improved cash flow and profitability. Automation in time tracking has reached a different level with geo tagging,” Mookerjee explains. With a vast array of vendors and software providers at their disposal, a technology officer must pick the right partner, or build capabilities internally, to implement the firm’s vision at the right cost and within the right timelines. PICKING THE RIGHT TOOLS Technology is an important partner rather than just a third-party vendor for a law firm, says Mookerjee. Currently the buzz word is ‘AI enabled’ tech. Experts say that most firms see that AI possibly gives workable solutions. “This wasn’t the case five-ten years back where solutioning only ensured 20-30 percent delivery. Manual intervention/quality checks were still required. With AI, the solutioning sought for the issue has reached about 80-85 percent and it can only get better as the AI learns. At an immediate level, firms are looking at investing in document management, practice management software and data security management solutions,” Mookerjee explains. Identifying, contracting and managing AI software providers for law firms is tough, says Mookerjee. “Getting them to understand why a lawyer wants what they want and why nothing less than a complete solution is expected is tough. Developers have their own style and their own logic. That logic often clashes with the way lawyers perceive things. Just basic levels of disconnect in nomenclature and taxonomy logic can lead to an entire algorithm going wrong and not picking the right variable.” “Cost factor cannot be ignored. In India, other than the top 20 law firms not many can afford the kind of tech that is out in the market. Also, with technology there is a need to constantly upgrade which is not only costly but time consuming as well,” she adds. Bigger law firms are looking to build more technology in-house, as Gupta points out. In 2019, CAM has set up Prarambh, India’s first legaltech incubator with the aim of nurturing young entrepreneurs and developing bespoke legal technology solutions for the Indian legal market. “Working with legaltech developers in our legaltech incubator, Prarambh, and with those which the firm has subscribed to, has been a rewarding experience. They have been open to understanding the specific requirements of legal professionals, which is crucial given the intricacies of the legal field. Their flexibility in customizing solutions to meet these needs has been particularly valuable. Equally important is their willingness to receive feedback positively and make necessary changes accordingly,” Gupta says. “In the legal world, precision is paramount; every word, punctuation mark, and formatting choice can significantly impact the meaning and legality of a document. Therefore, having founders and developers who understand and prioritize accuracy is invaluable,” Gupta adds.