5 Questions to Guide Your In-house Team's Next Legal Tech Investment

In the expansive universe of legal technology solutions — and with limited resources and budget — how do you prioritise your legal tech roadmap and investment plan to set your team up for future success? 

The sobering reality is that your next technology transformation project has a 1-in-3 chance of success (HBR, Sept 2021). 

Change is often harder than leaders anticipate. The success of new transformation projects relies on creating tangible results and building goodwill within the anticipated user community.  

To make things even more complex, the question for most legal tech investments across the key categories (CLM, DMS, MMS, eBilling, outside counsel management, document automation, etc.) isn’t whether you should make the investment — but in which order? 

In my eight years of experience advising corporate legal departments on technology implementation initiatives, here are the five questions that I use to help legal operations teams prioritise their next legal technology investment as they structure their legal transformation journey.

1. Is your tech implementation roadmap balanced?

Consider the importance of building credibility with each investment and implementation of new technologies and processes.  

Is implementing two heavy effort solutions in a row really the best experience for your lawyers? Will it aid you in telling a story around a successful use of your budget?

For example, you may desperately need a CLM but recently came off of a long and trying implementation experience in moving to a cloud-based DMS. Moving on to another long, complicated tech implementation that is unlikely to produce value for a considerable period isn’t the advisable best next step. It’s a lot to ask from lawyers with little to no immediate reward and even more to ask of the business without being able to show the benefits of their recent investment. 

Break up your legal tech roadmap by alternating major undertakings with lighter-lift solutions. This allows you to maintain momentum while giving your team breathing room between intensive efforts. It also helps ensure you have a success story to tell while the more complex implementation plays out and starts paying dividends. 

2. What's your department's prior history with tech implementations? 

Never underestimate the effect of a bad prior experience with tech transformation/implementation. If the team has experienced a messy, complicated and trying implementation in the last two years be careful about which solution you implement next. 

Rebuilding trust and goodwill from the legal team is paramount! The “quick win” may be lower value but you’ll do yourself some favours by showing progress without asking for too much change management investment from the team. 

3. Are you balancing productivity with cost savings?

Most solutions on the market are tailored to cost savings, productivity, or a combination of both. But most are heavily weighted to one side. 

When tailoring your pitch to obtain budget for your next legal tech solution, consider how each type of gain will resonate with leadership priorities.

For example, if you’ve just implemented a solution expected to increase productivity by giving your lawyers back “X” hours per week, it’s advisable to consider pitching a different value proposition for the next solution while you prove out the return of the previous investment. In this case, you’d be best served to prioritise a solution that can deliver significant dollar savings and/or risk mitigations.

4. Does the solution provide data insights to help you build your next business case?

Think about what data set the next solution will give you and how that will help you build a business case for transformation projects in the future. 

If you stay one step ahead you’ll always have the information you need to build a compelling business case.

5. Does your solution advance shared interests?

Everyone needs to feel the benefit of the investment and share in the success so you can pave the way for your next initiative. 

Some qualifying questions to consider are:

  • Will the positive impact for the lawyers outweigh the change management? Bear in mind any change will often be negatively resourced as the lawyers have to change their ways of working — but consider the holistic benefit and whether it’s something the individual end-user can find personal wins in.
  • Will the outcome of the investment be significant enough that the leadership team can highlight the achievement at an executive level?
  • Will this investment be something you can nominate your department for an award around — For example, the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards and ACC Value Champion Awards. 
  • Will this help advance your own career path internally if the implementation and investment are a success?

What’s the next best technology investment on your legal transformation journey?

Wondering if PERSUIT could be your team's next best legal tech investment?

Learn more about how we've helped some of the world's top in-house teams bring transparency, efficiency, and savings to their outside counsel spend with value-based pricing. 

Madeleine Leamon

Senior Partner Strategy and Client Operations Manager