These days, a law firm’s reputation is likely built from the kitchen table rather than in fancy conference rooms, courtrooms, or expensive restaurants. For smaller law firms competing for client outcomes, new business, and legal talent, the playing field is much more level now.
It’s even more level when you have the technology to support you. The biggest law firms certainly do, and now law firms of all sizes are seizing the opportunity to evolve their approaches and the technology they use.
While the exact same tools aren’t always appropriate, firms need the right ones to help them compete, says Mary Juetten. She runs Juetten Law PC and is the founder of Traklight, which helps small business owners assess their IP risk. She is about to launch the new virtual-first firm Singular Law Group PLLC. “Solos and small law firms need to have the same capacity as big law firms to serve clients efficiently and effectively to improve access to legal services,” Juetten says.
Using technology to compete for better outcomes
The stakes are higher than ever for your clients. Their anxiety over outcomes is probably higher too. You can’t just assume your arguments are airtight, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to poke holes in opposing counsel’s arguments. At the same time, you don’t have armies of junior associates to triple-check the research and application of case law.
While opposing counsel may have those junior associates, they are probably using advanced legal research technology like Westlaw Edge to safeguard their briefs. Legal research has become less manual and time-consuming as technology advances.
The same is true for judges: While they want to know that your argument is solid, their law clerks no longer are manually reviewing your legal documents. Instead, they’re using AI tools like Quick Check to verify your claims – and those of the other party. In addition to identifying relevant authority that you and opposing counsel both cited, they are also able to see what wasn’t cited. While this is what they can see from their side, you can also use the same legal tech to learn more about your judge. And you can bet they’ll be more comfortable with your argument if you use cases they already know.
Your reputation depends on your ability to secure the best outcomes for your clients. As the volume of data and information explodes, elbow grease and passion won’t be enough to sift through it. Law firms that use technology to find and understand the law will be more competitive.
How to compete for clients
Modern legal technology also helps you improve your overall client experience. Tools like Litigation Analytics can interpret years’ worth of data to help you manage client expectations regarding how long a ruling might take and the likely outcome.
“Clients don’t really care about the underlying workflow or the legal tech, usually only the outcome,” says Juetten, who is also the author of “Small Law Firm KPIs: How to Measure Your Way to Greater Profits” from Thomson Reuters. “But as lawyers, we know that using technology will allow for faster and, often, less expensive outcomes. We see it in the ability to automate workflow, generate documents, and support a process, all allowing for more certainty and the use of flat fees or subscription models.”
Securing successful outcomes and providing a transparent, empowering client experience are two critical elements of earning ongoing business from existing clients and referrals to new clients.
Use technology to compete for talent
People want to work for firms that provide the tools to do their best work, that reward them for their impact, and that allow them to enjoy their lives.
Great attorneys often leave biglaw for smaller law firms so they can do more interesting work and make a bigger impact. They also crave a different culture or pace than they experienced in biglaw.
You’re proud of your culture, and you’re proud of the results your team delivers for clients. Are you giving them the tools they need to do their best work and confidently end their day knowing they haven’t missed something important?
Your best people and your prospective new hires are aware of the tools available in the market, and they’ll notice if they think they’re working harder or doing more “busy work” than their peers at other firms.
Try out the best tech so you can stay competitive
Great client outcomes, great client experience, and great attorneys are essential to your firm’s reputation and ability to grow. Innovative technology like Westlaw Edge helps you play to win. See for yourself with a free trial.