Technological advancement, no matter how positive, usually encounters resistance. People are naturally averse to change, because it takes time and effort to adapt to change.When cavemen discovered fire, I imagine there was one dude who was like “No. This is going to be terrible. How will our children learn to chew raw meat?” or “This will put the fur guy down the road out of business.” Or even “This will encourage people to leave their warm caves and embark on dangerous journeys.”Well, we all know how that went.Law is an antiquated beast, and perhaps one of the most resistant professions when it comes to adopting new technologies. Law, by its nature, is a culture of precedent. Legal decisions in the past have a strong hold on determining legal outcomes in the present and future. So naturally, lawyers look backwards, reverentially deferring to previous generations to figure out how things are done, rather than looking forward to how they could be done.Working in legal tech, we encounter a lot of resistance. Here are the top 3 objections we hear on a regular basis.
If a law firm is comfortable with a certain level of productivity, a certain ROI per employee, and a certain profit margin, that’s fine. Legal tech can, and usually does, increase all three of these metrics, though.So even if a way of doing things has been working for a firm, it can always be working better. That’s why they call it technological “advancement”. A firm can always advance beyond its current profit margins, productivity levels, and ROI per employee.The most resistant lawyers tend to be the ones who view their firm as only a law firm, and not as a business. As soon as you start prioritizing business objectives and the need for profit and growth, legal tech starts looking much more attractive.
Grooming law students and young associates to become eventual partners involves a lot of repetitive, arduous, down-in-the-mud work that will eventually cease when they break forth from their cocoons a few years into their legal career.Students often sit in a cubicle, drafting boilerplate contracts, doing due diligence and drinking enough coffee to keep them in robot mode. Much of this work can be automated by computers, yet the decision makers object “But how will we train the students? How will they learn?”Great questions. The same questions were likely asked upon the invention of the calculator, the X-Ray, and power tools.The short answer is that students will always find other work to do, and maybe even engage in some business development, a skill that is notoriously lacking in many young lawyers. A firm can force students to do long division by hand or allow them to use calculators. The latter is obviously a better choice.
This objection poses a catch-22. People won’t buy technology until it’s ubiquitous, but it won’t be ubiquitous until people buy it.Thankfully, not everyone has this attitude. That’s why new technology often relies upon early adopters and innovators at the beginning. By adopting a new technology that makes them more efficient than their competitors, a law firm can gain a huge competitive advantage.Their lawyers can bill out up to 10 hours a day, when their competitors are billing 6. They can draft contracts, do research and obtain documents in 1/10 of the time. Their lawyers can increase the firm’s profitability and have better work-life balance in the process.So please, go ahead and wait until everyone else uses it first. But good luck catching up when the firms around you are getting more business, and you’re still trying to figure out if you should use legal tech.