Turbocharging Legal Tech Adoption: How to Identify Your Adoption Champions and Help Them Encourage the Use Of New Tech In Your Law Firm
You’re a partner at a law firm. Your lawyers are working crazy hours, struggling with endless checklists and scattered files. Version control is hard to track, document management is disorganized, and clients are demanding a better digital customer experience. You realise that you need help, and your firm can only improve its competitiveness through innovation. So, you decide to buy a new legal tech tool to solve these issues. However, a few months have gone by and, rather than instantly changing how people work, your new legal tech solution is sitting idle and underutilized.
Sound familiar? Successfully integrating any new legal technology into your business or law firm can be hard. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve seen such a huge gap between the legal industry’s expectations of technology and the progress some law firms and businesses have made.
After you have made the decision to incorporate technology into your day-to-day processes, it is critical to support its implementation with a robust onboarding and training process. It takes more than just ensuring your teams are using the technology, it’s also training the right people to use the software and understand how to maximize it to its fullest potential. Many law firms find it difficult to adopt technology because of factors like:
- Law firms being generally less culturally adaptive.
- Partners finding it difficult to measure its return on investment (ROI).
- Lawyers not being trained to use it properly.
- Limited active role models within law firms.
Champions have a crucial job in the adoption of any new technology. Some organizations might have a large network of champions, others might only have one or two individuals in this role. Champions identify opportunities for the introduction of new technology and/or advocate for the use of new tech within an organization.
What does a champion do and what traits make a good adoption champion?
When it comes to technology, a champion has three main functions. The first is to identify technological needs between teams or organizations, and potential new solutions. The second is to act as a point of contact for the new technology – e.g., by answering questions about it or organizing training. And the third is to advocate for and encourage the use of new tech by motivating others to use it, celebrating successes, and ensuring that users are getting the maximum value possible from it.
The most effective champions have several significant traits which, when combined, give them the skills they need to drive adoption.
- Success-oriented. Good adoption champions need to be able to understand the needs of relevant stakeholders – e.g. leadership, users, third-party users, and the vendor. They also need to be committed and motivated to see results from their efforts.
- Technologically-savvy. An effective champion needs to be confident with technology. They’re likely to be ‘early adopters’ and strong problem-solvers.
- Influential. A champion must be able to relate to others and their challenges and behaviors. Effective champions need to understand the motivations and concerns of others in order to respond to them. They also need to carry a certain amount of persuasiveness or the ability to influence those who may have objections to using new tech or be more resistant to change. Having done the job first hand and been through a tech change journey themselves can carry a lot of weight.
My colleague and our head of product, Ryan Turner, was a champion of Legatics at Allen & Overy. He had the following to say:
“Being a champion can be a challenging task. You get objections at every turn (often around specific features, or lack of time). But it can be extremely rewarding, too. It’s also a vital role in any successful roll-out. Having someone who talks the language of users, and has lived their frustrations, can really help drive your adoption forward.”
Why legal tech implementations need champions.
Implementing new technology is hard, but not impossible. Even when the tech is great, asking people to use something that’s unfamiliar and that they may not immediately see the value in is a tall order.
Equally, if technology is rolled out in the absence of a plan that’s understood by the intended users of the technology, adoption is likely to be an uphill struggle.
Champions can help avoid adoption failing by making sure users are aware of the problems the solution is solving, and how it improves legacy working methods. They can also ensure that the firm’s culture as well as the mindsets and behaviours of the various adopter groups are being addressed in the adoption communications, milestones, and training sessions.
Once you have identified your champions and they are confident using the technology, they need to be given the chance to celebrate success and communicate with their peers. There are several ways in which you can use adoption champions to celebrate early technology successes in your firm. These could include:
- Providing a written review of your new tech that can be shared with others.
- Writing a blog post about the new tech.
- Working with your tech vendor to create a success story to drive further adoption.
- Providing feedback on the new tech’s features.
- Compiling Q&A content to address common queries from users.
Champions can also help to facilitate opportunities to drive adoption at internal partners’ meetings, team meetings, 121s and externally with clients. Increasing awareness of the benefits of the new tech for internal users as well as third parties will help achieve buy-in from the relevant stakeholders.
Adoption is a complex and nuanced area. Whilst champions alone won’t guarantee adoption success, they have a significant role in the process. Choose your product champions wisely as, with the right mix of skills, they can make all the difference to the success of new tech in your firm and ultimately your return on investment (ROI).