Adoption Best Practices: The Experts Speak
Published on Wed, July 06 byLegaltech Hub

Driving adoption of new technology and new processes is a challenge in law firms and corporate legal departments. Even though it's clear that a new system will markedly improve the way a lawyer works, and increase their efficiency and productivity, it can be difficult to get them to pause for long enough to learn how to use the new technology and integrate it within their workflows.

Firms and legal departments are responding to this challenge by hiring professionals internally whose responsibilities include change management and adoption, or by bringing in external consultants to support change management and adoption efforts around a specific project. To shine a light on tried and true methodologies for driving adoption, we went out to speak with  experts and have collected their top tips for addressing this challenge. We’ll be publishing a series of Adoption Best Practices over the next few months: this is the first.

Elisabeth Cappuyns, Director of Knowledge Management at DLA Piper
One of our more successful approaches was a concierge service approach. Instead of asking the attorneys to learn yet another type of technology, whether they thought they wanted or needed it, we had somebody who became an expert within the firm to help them through it. The concierge had the demo and was positioned as the person in the firm who could answer questions. This approach was beneficial to leverage when the attorneys were too busy to learn anything new and tired of using new technology tools. To entice the lawyers to use the tool, the team provided a value-add and offered to do all the closing sets for the next month. Afterwards, it was easier to mention all the tool's additional functionalities and the supporting concierge resource. This value-add allowed the attorneys and paralegals to get familiar with the tool by seeing it in action and to dive in as they knew they would have a back-up if needed. 

Lucy Bassli, Founder and Principal at InnoLaw Group
Technology adoption cannot be successful if you have not done the preparatory work in advance. The pre-work focuses on the users, the process flow, and how things work today. We are constantly reminded that technology cannot be implemented on top of processes that have not been optimized and for people who have not been prepared. Readiness is critical to bring in technology to become more efficient, more effective, and streamlined. There needs to be an initial investment in completing the unsexy work that people don't want to do before they get their shiny new tool.

Elizabeth Wilkinson, Lead Practice Innovation & Knowledge Counsel at Paul Hastings 
We've had success in leading with the problem we are trying to solve rather than the resource or tool that solves it. For example, we often highlight our tools by first identifying the use case or pain point: "Are you trying to do X," "Are you looking for Y," "Have you ever wanted to Z," and then responding with the tool that addresses the problem.

Catherine Bamford, CEO and Founder of BamLegal
Adoption boils down to three components: the project starts small, it's promoted by lawyers to lawyers, and is sponsored by senior members. First, starting with small and not trying to do a project firm-wide that impacts every department or jurisdiction is vital. Instead, try incrementally growing from the original use case and leveraging the butterfly effect of lawyers as advocates. Secondly, lawyers listen to other lawyers: if you start with a small group and then ask that group to present or do a webinar on the project, the other lawyers will listen to each other a lot more. For example, a law firm's corporate department I worked at had an annual retreat where a partner from Germany talked about their innovative projects, which is much more powerful than the legal tech team trying to speak to everyone. Finally, sponsorship and having the senior members of the team promote, reward, and encourage the use of the new tool being rolled out is essential. This helps position the innovation team as a critical specialist team driving strategic change for the organization.

Lewis Bretts, COO and Chief Legal Engineer ar SYKE
It’s a cliché – but sharing data and feedback is a crucial driver of adoption. We always encourage project teams to circulate a regular report to business stakeholders showing who is (and isn’t!) using the platform and how they’re using it. This quickly shows what’s working and what isn’t, and usually helps to create a healthy sense of competition. Negative trends should be called out, and the remedial action shared in the following report. This helps create a sense of mutual accountability between users and project owners.

Simon Wormwell, Chief, Strategic Enterprise Initiatives at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Not overselling the impact of a new technology or a new process is an important aspect of adoption. In other words, managing the expectations that the new technology is simply a tool within a toolkit that will hopefully make one area of your practice better. Successful adoption comes from setting up a context for success and being very honest and transparent with the functionality and probable outcome. KM and legal innovation leaders need to caution over promising, which typically comes from high budgets or long implementation periods. There’s an assumption that if we’ve spent this much or this long implementing the tool, it must do great things.



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