The Australian Legal Practice Managers Association (ALPMA) National Summit is coming up in Melbourne next week and Encompass is sponsoring the ‘Live and On Demand Summit’.  Encompass Marketing Manager Alex Ford spoke to Futurist Craig Rispin, who will be running a workshop on how law firms can leverage technology for profitability.

What are some of the major issues law firms should be thinking about when it comes to technology?

Technology is having a big impact on law firms across the board. Two things that I have been speaking about a lot recently are getting onboard with cloud solutions, and recognising security threats. The two are actually related, because cloud applications are an easy way for firms to minimise costs – using things like google or cisco to host documents in the cloud, and at the same time many of these cloud services offer better security than a firm could afford for their own systems. Look at Amazon Web Services who will spend $32 billion dollars on security this year – far beyond the capability of even Australian banks, let alone law firms.

Which law firms are “doing it right?”

I work with small, medium and top tier firms, and there are many making steps in the right direction. There is one firm from Washington – called Clearspire who are a great example. They originated with a business optimisation mindset and the founders were not actually lawyers. They’ve been very successful because they asked customers ‘what do you hate most about your lawyers’ and then set up a business that addressed those issues. One of the major things that came up was that clients resent paying for their lawyer’s swish offices – so Clearspire have set up low cost office spaces allowing them to charge clients less.

What do you say to lawyers who are reluctant to reduce their billable hours?

Well, firms like Clearspire may be the minority at the moment, but they are certainly leading the way when it comes to customer satisfaction and client value. By implementing efficient systems and using technology to reduce their operating cost, they are winning clients by offering the same quality of advice at 40% less. Client tolerance for bills that incorporate office management costs is steadily decreasing, so the focus really needs to be on value not billable hours.

What will your session at ALPMA be covering and who should attend?

I’m running a workshop called Leveraging Technology for Profitability & Innovation. It’s for law firm managers and leaders without a strong IT/technology background but who want to improve the way their firm leverages technology for competitive advantage. We’ll discuss how to develop a technology strategy for your firm, how to manage the risks associated technology and reap the promised rewards. We’ll also look at a range of technologies (from collaboration tools, mobility, discovery, cloud, to workflow automation, document management, and CRM systems) for law firms.

Conference details here

This interview was also published on Lawyers Weekly.

Lawyers weekly

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