For small firms operating on tight budgets with leaders who are spread thin between practicing law and growing the firm, launching a change project can feel like a nuisance—with the benefits often lost in the fear of the effort required to sell a change internally.
Change can make anyone feel out of control, which is why our natural instinct is to resist. For this reason, its no wonder that a lawyer, who’s day-to-day is defined by control over difficult situations, would be even more resistant to change than the average professional.
Luckily, there are 3 simple and effective strategies that your firm can employ to help lawyers achieve a level of control in the change process that will help them feel comfortable and, dare we say it, excited about the change process: bringing your lawyers in early, getting them inside the process, and teaching them the ‘why’.
1. Bring Your Lawyers in Early
No one knows how to deliver outstanding client services, or understands the pitfalls in your current process, better than your lawyers. As your firm considers various technology solutions, bring a sub-set of lawyers in to help identify core needs and questions that will ensure what you pick the first time will be the right choice.
A key piece of making this strategy successful is to provide lawyers with some basic education on what to look for as they evaluate solutions. While you could have them spend time independently learning about the capabilities of a software—and therefore, their liability in using it—take the time to ask vendors if they have educative materials, such as common questions to ask, that can save your team time and effort. They are the experts in their software, after all, and the best vendors will be invested in helping you make the right decision for your firm.
2. Involve Lawyers (and Staff) in Process Development
Implementing new software with user adoption in mind requires a healthy match of specialized technical skills and intimate knowledge of internal processes. This is why it is essential that lawyers (and other staff members) be included in the technical implementation of new software.
There are numerous ways to determine who to include in this implementation process, but the most common strategies are to either include a lawyer from every practice area or simply appoint team leads for certain groups (e.g., legal, administrative, etc.). These individuals should be paired with technical experts who can extract their process knowledge and needs to customize a system that will fit your team’s preferences.
For an in-depth look at how to involve staff in technical considerations, read our article Managing Change Part 2: Building Technical Considerations Into Your Change Management Strategy
3. Provide the Big Picture
When introducing a new technology to your team, it is critical to help them understand why this technology can fundamentally improve their current processes and, overall, make their lives easier.
While it is tempting to keep trainings on new technologies short and to the point, it is wise to plan extra time and develop training that goes beyond a software’s functionality. Give your team time to immerse themselves in the software and provide education on why those functions are saving them time, effort, and ultimately giving them more control over their days and billable hours.
Make Your First Choice the Right Choice
There is no sugar coating it: selecting and implementing software is a time-consuming and stressful process. The pressure is on to pick the solutions that will protect your firm from future challenges and your lawyers will willingly adopt.
Provide your lawyers with the control they need to feel comfortable with technology changes through early education on software, its benefits, and the risks—in addition to involvement throughout the change process. Your firm will be rewarded for these proactive efforts and could turn a previously daunting change project into a uniting team effort.
Ready to modernize your document management system? Skip reading through endless forums and download our guide, 26 Questions to Ask When Considering a Cloud Document Management Platform, to learn what to ask (and answers to listen for!) to ensure you make your first choice, the right choice.