Law firms have worked the same way for generations. But knowledge of the law as a standalone attribute these days just isn’t enough. Over the last decade, the demand for legal firms to become more efficient and improve client satisfaction means there has been an increasing shift to a more digitised industry.
From AI to document proofing, legal professionals are slowly starting to embrace technology. And it’s this technology that creates a more streamlined work process and helps gain a competitive edge in an increasingly globalised industry.
Whilst embracing technology has certainly played a role in enabling firms to remain competitive, legal organisations are failing to recognise that technology alone will not transform the way in which they work, which has led to a ‘lingering skills gap’.
Research for our webinar, ‘Training and Assessment Strategies for Success’, revealed that the digital skills gap could cost the UK an astonishing £141bn in GDP growth. And according to a Legal Week survey, 85% of senior lawyers and IT directors think IT skills need improving amongst UK and international firms.
A further 68% think they’re falling short when it comes to exploiting new technology, due to the lack of digital skills in firms.
So, the industry is aware there’s a skills gap, but how do they address it?
Adapting to change is the key to survival
From the way we communicate to how we receive our news, it’s now the norm to engage with some form of technology on a day to day basis.
The legal environment is also evolving, and legal professionals will be expected to follow suit and adopt a more digital way of working.
The Cloud has enabled employees to access their practice management suite 24/7, regardless of their location, and not have to worry about security. Digital dictation is three times faster than typing, and document automation has saved firms valuable time when it comes to creating contracts and other documents.
Legal tech has presented an opportunity for an increasingly agile work environment. But it has also enabled smaller firms to compete with larger, and even international players. High street firms that fail to adapt are already losing out to tech-savvy firms.
It is clear firms need to change their traditional working practices and innovate in order to survive amongst the competition.
But simply making a purchase, flicking a switch and expecting immediate ROI alone won’t bring law firms into the future. One of the main reasons technology only partially delivers on its promise is down to users not knowing how to use it to its full potential.
So, how do you close the skills gap?
An expectation to understand technology is becoming a standard requirement for legal professionals. So, preparation through education is key.
In our webinar, ‘Training and Assessment Strategies for Success’, we explored how the traditional learning tactics of ‘assess and test’ are somewhat obsolete for the adult learner.
Instead, in order for training to be effective, it should be engaging. Employees retain knowledge much better when they’re in the driving seat, and creating an environment where learning is more interactive, and the user has more control is a sure-fire way to ensure knowledge sticks.
Training shouldn’t just be introduced when new technologies are implemented. If there are gaps in knowledge with the existing technology in place, then training should be used to get the best out of the digital platforms in use every day.
Technology shouldn’t be seen as a threat or something that will replace jobs within the legal profession. But rather something that will open up an increasingly productive, cost-effective and more customer aligned environment.
A decade from now, the ‘modern’ law firm will look very different. Legal professionals will be expected to have a mix of skills to keep up with the changing landscape.
But investing in technology to keep up with the demand is only half the story. Technology is rendered useless if employees don’t know how to use it properly.
The demand for technical skills is only going to increase as digital continues to evolve. Staying ahead of the curve with continuous innovation and training is the best way to get the most out of both your technology and your staff.
To learn more about how to get employees more engaged with learning new IT skills, and the practical steps you can take to master new and existing tech, then you can watch our webinar, ‘Training & Assessment Strategies for Success’.