Hive Mind

This month’s LPM supplement features Adrian Jones, product development director at Tikit.  In this article he dives into the busy life of the SME law firm and points to where it can leverage technology to work smarter.

The last few years have seen a tremendous amount of change in the way people live, work and interact with one another. The biggest driver for this is, of course, technology.

“We live in a digital world. Everything we do as consumers is online and easily available,” says Adrian Jones, product development director at Tikit.

“And the SME legal market has a lot to gain if firms can leverage these technologies available to them. Luckily, there are a number of great solutions out there and more are easily accessible for SMEs than they might think.”

Smarter working is good for business but it also needs to work for the client, in terms of the service and experience they get, he adds.

Sweet Future

Firms should take a look at why they want to go agile and where they should, Jones says – agility made for lawyers ultimately has to translate to positively affect the experience of their clients. Everyone expects communication to happen in a much more electronic, joined-up and seamless way.

“Take a look at the number of things you do online – you buy car insurance, apply for a mortgage, order next-day delivery on groceries – it’s completely different compared with how it was done previously, even just five years ago. Law firms need to evolve in the same way.”

This evolution can be done in multiple ways – it doesn’t mean a major overhaul of a firm’s business model or legal services – a simple change in the way work is processed or how people collaborate can make all the difference. Jones says Tikit’s Partner for Windows (P4W) is the flagship system for SMEs looking to change the way they work for the better. It’s always improving and evolving as trends in the market emerge, he adds.

“The more forward-thinking law firms absolutely recognise that standing still is not an option and they have to evolve the way they work and think differently. P4W is constantly evolving and won’t stand still.”

These evolutions are not often ground-breaking innovations, he says – smarter working isn’t always about market-led change. The most that is to be reaped from changes to the way law firms work are incremental, but crucial, points along a firm’s journey to modernisation.

Take signatures as an example, Jones says. “Historically, if you wanted a contract signed, it would be printed, posted, signed and then posted back. Digital signatures are now accepted in the profession. Now, with P4W integration with Adobe Sign, you can generate a contract, upload it for electronic signature and have that signed copy back in the case management system within minutes of speaking to a client.”

And it’s traceable, which is great for auditability. “You can see when that agreement was opened, reviewed, signed and so on. We see this as a key change of direction to a paperless and smarter way of working. That’s why we’ve become an Adobe Sign OEM Partner.”

Tikit is facilitating innovation. Its user group and forum provides firms with the ability to connect with other firms like theirs and compare notes, and gives Tikit insight into the market and its needs – which means it can work together with firms to create process improvements and more agility.

“It’s important that we are quick to react to the needs of the market, but we’re not going to sit back and wait for them to tell us what they want. We need to be proactive and reach out to our clients to test our theories. That’s where innovation and evolution thrive – trial and error.”

Got your back

There’s an increase in smarter working initiatives that have come out of GDPR, Jones says. Firms are still working on GDPR but it’s not a focus any more. “Firms should already have plans and implementation well underway – so, now that their decks are cleared of that, by and large, it’s time to start thinking of other things.”

What GDPR has done, he says, is made law firms think about security and processes – how they should communicate and look after data. It’s been a great catalyst for change rather than an end-point in itself.

Jones says law firms looking to improve their ‘smarter working’ can also leverage NetDocuments in P4W. “It gives them the
security and peace of mind so that if a system goes down, they can still work on documents and meet client demands. But the key thing is it enables agility.

“Staff can start a document in the office and then, if they want or need to, they can go home and finish that document – NetDocuments syncs back in to P4W and saves them time in the office and, more importantly, on keying in the same data.”

It’s also more secure than copying it to a memory stick or insecure systems such as a personal email or Dropbox, he adds. Everything is joined-up and synchronised in the P4W ecosystem – it was made with agile working in mind.

There’s been a big push in the legal sector for more efficiency. “I see a lot of time could be saved in the time recording and billing processes. It’s a very tedious and often inefficient process. If you look at other industries, bill production is an automated and seamless back office process.”

The profession needs to evolve fast to keep up with client expectations – Jones says the world will only continue to become more digital, and that impacts the way clients want to interact with firms, and what they demand. The pace of change is not going to slow – so law firms need to have agile systems.

Adrian Jones

Adrian Jones

Product Director at Tikit