IT & the Lawyer

Survive and thrive

The authors of an article entitled Residential Conveyancing - Survive & Thrive, contend that new technology is the way forward for conveyancing firms. They can experience streamlined operations, more business, reduced overheads and improved service. They will also be able to manage, share and re-use existing knowledge within the firm. In practice though, firms are reluctant to use or introduce tools such as e-mail, shared diaries and case management. They are even reluctant to communicate with staff.

This is not surprising since firms fear that their systems will crash. They have not developed clear plans on how technology should be developed and implemented and have little communication between IT and fee earners beyond day-to-day issues. Other reasons include the pressures of time, resistance to taking a managing role and lack of IT training.

In order to avoid the "Boiling frog syndrome"*, the authors insist that the following areas need to be tackled:

  • Firms need to have confidence that the new technology can deliver the desired results,
  • Plans must be developed to manage the change,
  • Communication should be improved,
  • They should understand that technology will help fee earners utilise their time better
  • Management and training issues need to be resolved.
Other issues include technology development, the pace of investment and barriers to progress. The presentation essentially provides a neat outline of the problems and possible solutions for conveyancing firms, trying to make the most of the new developments in conveyancing.

The authors conclude:

  • The need for change arises through demands from clients and governing bodies to streamline legal processes.
  • Technology is not a magic wand that can be waved at a problem to make it go away.
  • Technology, when used effectively, can provide real benefits.
  • Ongoing drives for standardisation will facilitate the straightforward transfer of information.
  • Barriers to implementing change are often internal.
  • The technologies that you consider must be applicable to the needs of your practice.
  • Don't ignore the move to electronic conveyancing - it is happening now!
* If you put a frog in a pot of water and turn up the temperature slowly, the frog will not feel the change and will not try to jump out. It will eventually die.

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