At a virtual conference organised by the Nigerian Bar Association- Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) which held 14th-15th July, local and international professionals spoke during a session themed, “Global Tech Trends in the Law Practice Management”, to deliberate on internal tech law trends and the areas that are most urgent for law firms.
Christine Kamunchulu, Senior Manager, International Development (Africa) – DLA Piper, advised that law firms must have a five-year technology plan to take advantage of the technological advent ushered in by the global pandemic.
She went on to say that since 2020 there has been a trend of clients being more demanding, pushing law firms to provide more services for less money and the only way to adapt and navigate through this trend is to employ tech solutions as a cost control measure.
She also pointed out the growing pressure from the next generation of lawyers on law firms to adapt, “the lawyer of the future is someone who is going to be very tech savvy. Law firms will have to think about that and make sure they are well-equipped to accommodate these lawyers who will push the industry to the next level.”
Naseem Ameer-Mia, the Senior Manager, Alternative Legal Services at Herbert Smith Freehills expanded on this by stating that pressure was not only growing internally, but more importantly externally, and that for businesses to be competitive on a global scale, firms need to harness the skill sets available in the business by ensuring lawyers are trained adequately and familiar with the technological tools being used in the industry.
Responding to the question of what law firms need to take advantage of in this technological revolution, Ope Olugasa, Managing Director of Law Pavilion, highlighted the importance of even basic technology, saying,
“Video conferencing has become essential to law firms. External hard disc drives are also important because firms need to have a backup system both onsite and offsite (online). Law firms are beginning to lose clients and traction because they have no digital footprint. The social media environment should be explored; social media is also important because it allows for effective client profiling”
Most importantly, he stressed that law firms need to start shifting their culture to include a Chief Technology Officer that has partner level power or influence, as this would allow swifter and more effective adoption of the technology that is most useful for the business and tailored to its needs.
With regards to specific technology that should be of utmost importance to law firms at present, Kamunchulu identified the following: “A communication system that allows you to share documents centrally, no matter where lawyers/personnel are located, one that allows collaboration through virtual meetings; a project management tool, particularly for all the big legal matters, and a time recording solution. These systems are all available in the market now. Law firms should know how much time they are spending on a matter and who their clients are amongst a host of other pertinent information.”
The event was moderated by Moray Mclaren, Co-Founder, Lexington Consulting.