Global Business Trends Drive The Need For Digitalization In Law Firms

Patrice Cappello

The legal field is known for adherence to tradition in style, language, and letter. However, the digital economy keeps extending its reach. Law firms and legal services are already showing technology’s influence. With modern innovations, witness interviews can take place via online video chat. Contracts are signed digitally, and key files can be kept right at the fingertips using mobile technology and the cloud.

Globalization and the digital economy

In the past two decades, there’s been a transition toward globalization across nearly every industry. The Internet and digital technologies connecting the world have opened the door to a global marketplace. This momentum is also driving globalization in the legal field. It isn’t just affecting large law firms, either; small offices are growing in ways they never thought possible. In this new environment, in order to survive and thrive, law firms must embrace digital transformation. There are more international companies than ever before, and they all require legal assistance with a global perspective. From intellectual property matters to real estate deals to in-house HR claims, the playing field is now worldwide. Law firms must be able to assist clients in international matters, as well as regional and local.

More businesses operate internationally than ever before

In addition to statutory obligation and local laws, globalization is also influenced by fluctuating costs and currency values. Assisting and managing global clients requires efficiency in managing a firm’s resources and meeting customer needs. Accommodating global clients must take into consideration international cost pressures and corresponding rate adjustments. In a nutshell, law firms must be run more like businesses in order to better serve international clients.

The business world has been managing these growing pains for years. Rate structures and presentation must be adjusted depending upon the country or market. There should be some flexibility in terms of fees and margins, and this can put partner profits under pressure. A more businesslike approach to running a law firm can assist with these adjustments. However, standardization is also key to making this shift successfully.

Standardization facilitates streamlined operations

Past strides in technology have put templates and other software into use in the legal field. There is a consistency in presentation and a cohesiveness in the brand. However, now back-office staff in law firms are facing similar pressure. There’s a push to handle deals and billing in a standardized way. This in turn streamlines processes and contributes to personalized engagement and higher customer satisfaction.

Trends toward digitization in the legal sector are mirroring current shifts in business. Companies today are more focused than ever before on how to streamline operations. The goal is to drive revenue while also increasing customer satisfaction. The Internet provides connectivity worldwide, and the typical customer profile for many businesses has evolved from local to international. Language barriers are being reduced through technology as the world becomes smaller and more connected.

Digital evolution crucial for the legal profession

Today’s law practices must move in lockstep with these trends. Law offices large and small are gaining global resources to meet evolving client needs. Organizations large and small may establish offices overseas or align with networks and referral relationships to provide representation to international clients.

All of this adds another layer of complexity to operations. International regulations, cultural challenges, and jurisdictional restrictions must be accounted for. Even as law firms adjust to these new challenges, they must continue to provide high-caliber service to clients. The modern legal practice must be efficient and consistent across all offices and countries. Streamlined operations that transcend jurisdiction are key to being able to navigate statutory obligations, local laws, and currency considerations in new regions with new clients.

Law firms that will prosper in the global economy will use a scalable digital foundation for key processes. Doing so will enhance efficiency, maximize profits, facilitate personalized engagement, and offer flexibility as the firm continues to grow and evolve. A digital foundation is paramount for global providers in all industries. It supports solid, intuitive back-office support even with the complexities of international clients. Relationships and communication among all offices as well as other firms and partners are streamlined and optimized through digitization. Key technologies, platforms, and a mobile capacity optimize operations and help to ensure that top talent is being used strategically. Technology and digital business solutions can help with navigating unpredictable global market swings. The use of standards, performance metrics, and key performance benchmarks allow firms to chart progress. A more holistic approach is possible.

Standardizing processes and digitizing your law firm

The Financial Times reported that the top 20 U.K. law firms all use outsourcing, process mapping, contract lawyers, project management, and technology for both legal and support work. These services can be standardized, bundled, and repackaged under company brands to offer a one-firm approach. Digitization helps to ensure maximum efficiency, responsiveness, and effective digital customer engagement.

If your firm or law office is ready to make the transition to the digitized global marketplace, we’re ready to assist you. You can get started by downloading a complimentary copy of our newly published white paper, “Legal 3.0: Navigating the Trends Driving Change in an Increasingly Digital Legal Industry” from our online resource center. While you’re there, feel free to explore the many resources we’ve prepared to help you reimagine your business in the age of digital transformation.

Patrice Cappello

About Patrice Cappello

Patrice Cappello is the North America Industry Lead, Professional Services, at SAP. She is responsible for creating annual business plan and execution strategy to achieve revenue targets; develop marketing strategy and tactical plan to drive pipeline growth; participate on sales teams as Industry executive advisor; and create relationships with and enable partners to ensure revenue stream through indirect channel.