Articles | 05/28/2019

The Truth about Why Some Law Firm Employees Refuse to Embrace Legal Tech (and What You Can Do about It)

If legal technology truly makes law firm life easier for everyone in your firm, why is it so difficult to get law firm employees to embrace it? The truth of the matter is that unless everyone in your law firm uses legal technology, it will make your work more difficult. Why do some law firm employees refuse to embrace legal tech? Is there anything you can do about it?

Don’t Law Firm Employees Want an Easier Work Life?

There are a lot of legal tech options to choose from, and all of it is designed to improve the daily workflow of the law firm. Why don’t employees want an easier work life? Yes, of course they do. However, depending on the employee and their tasks, they may feel like the legal tech that affects them makes their life more difficult instead.

There may also be some law firm employees who refuse to use legal tech because they don’t understand how it actually works. While many employees come into the law firm with a good understanding of technology and how it works, some employees may not have an understanding of software outside of Microsoft Office and other basic computer programs. They may feel that they’re expected to know and they’re not comfortable enough to ask for help or for more training.

You may have an employee (or maybe more than one employee) who used the legal technology in question and had a bad experience with it. The cause of the bad experience really doesn’t matter in their mind. It sticks with them.

And, of course, there are some people who just don’t like change. They live and die by the old ways. They may mask their general dislike of change with what may be perceived as a reason. You can tell the difference between an actual concern and just not wanting things to change by considering past experiences when the law firm has implemented new software, policies, or procedures. The past changes don’t need to be significant ones, either.

Can You Really Make Legal Tech Implementation Easier for Your Employees?

Once you have a general idea of why law firm employees don’t fully embrace the legal technology you’ve chosen, is there a way that you can make them more apt to use and maybe even enjoy it? While we certainly won’t say that we believe every reluctant employee may eventually chomp at the bit, pinpointing their reason (or reasons) for disinclination can help you come up with a plan.

In fact, you may even be able to minimize future problems.  How? By first getting feedback from law firm employees about what sort of legal tech the firm needs and asking for feedback and suggestions. Your employees can tell you if they’ve had a poor experience with certain vendors, this can be a valuable learning experience for you. You can ask about what they felt happened that made it a bad experience. Is it something that may be solved? Did it add too many steps to their existing workflow? Remember that legal tech is about making life easier at work, not harder. They may be able to give you suggestions on legal tech that they feel would be a better fit.

Take Employee Feedback Seriously

When you implement legal technology of any kind, it’s crucial that you take employee feedback seriously. You may have a general idea of how they go through accomplishing their assigned tasks, but unless you’re in the trenches, you may not know how the software impacts them first-hand. You need your law firm to be efficient just as you need your employees to feel happy.

Reassure Employees of the Purpose of the Legal Tech

There is a huge fear in the legal industry. That fear is that legal technology will take away jobs. That fear stems from the continuing growth of the artificial intelligence segment. Of course, there are certain movies that certainly don’t help with that impression. Not all AI has the ability to learn; it has to be designed to learn. AI, like other components of technology, is supposed to be a convenience that makes life easier.

It’s important to reassure employees that while there may need to be some extra training to fully use it, you’re not adopting it to put them out of a job. Technology is great, but it’s not human. It doesn’t have the experience of someone who’s worked in the legal industry for years. Legal technology runs on a set of rules. It follows only those rules. It doesn’t “think” outside of those rules. In the legal field, we need people who have the ability to know and implement certain rules when creating documents, but we also need them to have compassion and the ability to reason and consider what is best for the client.

Thorough and Continuous Training without Judgment

Do not neglect training because you believe that each and every one of your law firm employees know how to use a computer. While a lot of legal tech options are easy to learn and use, there are some nuances and there can be some learning curves. For example, with client documents stored in a DMS, you may be able to implement a check-in and check-out system for documents. Checking-out a document to edit it makes any other copy opened read-only. There may be version comparison tools, auditing tools, and other really useful features that your employees may not know anything about.

You can usually seek out initial training from the software vendor, but it may be surface level or not provide individual training to each employee. You may need to find someone in your law firm who is extremely savvy and considered a “super user.” A “super user” is someone who knows how to use practically any technology that is placed in front of them. They just seem to immediately catch on. They are usually enthusiastic about it, too. If your “super user” tends to get along well with others in the office, consider enlisting them to provide more thorough training.

You need to have someone experienced with the software, be it someone provided by the vendor or even an external third-party who specializes in legal tech training, ready to provide additional training if needed. They should be available for questions and for in-person training where needed.

It’s very important that the initial and on-going training takes place in a way that feels open and friendly. Law firm employees will not feel comfortable asking questions or even using the software if they feel that they’re being judged. Make sure your law firm employees know that you don’t expect them to be perfect. You just want to make work life easier for them.

And for Those Who Just Don’t Like Change?

Continue to reiterate the merits that the legal tech directly provides. It’s important to make sure that they feel as if their concerns, questions, and feedback are all voiced. Sometimes, people just feel the need to be heard and like they are part of the process. That feeling of inclusion is sometimes all that is needed to get people on-board.

Adopting Legal Technology Can Be Scary

Legal technology can be quite a change compared to the old way of how your law firm operates. It’s important to keep that in mind! Allow appropriate time and provide the proper resources. You’ll find that it’s easier to get your employees on board!

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