Legally Yours Lunch and Learn with Beth Patterson from ESP Connect on ‘How to Make Commercial Decisions about Legal Tech’

The first event of 2021 for the Legally Yours Community kicked off with a ‘Lunch and Learn Session’ with Beth Patterson from ESP Connect. Beth is a recognised leader in the legal technology realm, who maximises the value of digital transformation in the practice of law and future of work. She is Director of ESPconnect and is a UTS Faculty of Law Honorary Fellow. As a strategic consultant to businesses across the legal ecosystem, Beth has extensive experience developing innovation and legal tech strategies, with unique insight into building multidisciplinary teams to address the challenges of digital disruption. Beth hosted this session to teach us more specifically about ‘Learning how to assess legal technology commercially for your law firm.’ She walks us through the below key points to assist us in determining whether a legal tech product is commercially viable for your business.

1. Setting a Strategy

-Where to start: what problem are you trying to solve?

-Understanding the legal tech landscape

-Promises vs Reality

-Time Horizons

-Benefits of Early Adopters?…and the Risks?

-Your Culture – high emphasis on People, Process & Technology

2. Identifying and Selecting

–   Assessment Criteria

3. Implementation

–   Setting Realistic Expectations

–   Legal culture vs Technology Culture

You must first determine the problem you are trying to solve and which category below it fits into.

1. You’re looking to implement a type of legal technology that helps you in your practise and enables you to be more efficient and effective, or;

2. A legal technology product that assists in how you deliver your work product to clients.

Beth understands that clients are demanding more for less and refers to the diagram below to highlight the different legal industry trends present and how lawyers must pivot to meet these needs.

 It is absolutely vital to fully assess and determine the type of problem you are trying to solve. Beth highlights how as of recent there has been more of a push on design thinking, which stems from the tech world. Maintaining a client centric design is very important when attempting to solve a problem. The chart below showcases the design thinking process.

Beth notes that when going through this step it is vital to refer to this chart in order to properly serve the client.

The legal tech landscape is immensely vast, as demonstrated below, hence why it is so vital to select wisely and assess the problem you are trying to solve at a deeper level, so the tech ultimately selected is the most valuable choice.

Beth makes reference to the historical tale regarding the Mechanical Turk, a supposedly automated chess machine which won every time, until it was later realised that the machine in fact had someone hiding inside moving the chess pieces, rather than the automated process which generations of people believed it to run by. Beth utilises this tale to emphasise how we need to ‘look under the hood’ and assess the pros and cons of technology in order to understand how it may or may not benefit the company. This is because humans have a tendency of trusting technology once it works for a while.

All technology goes through a time cycle – namely the Gartner Hype cycle. This cycle below should be referred to when selecting technology, as it would assist in determining where the risks might lie. She suggests that users should try to pinpoint where their technology sits, in order to determine life cycle.

Beth also moves on to note how there are both, Protectors vs Investors, in relation to culture and mindset of a company. There will always be people who are happy with current systems and processes and would prefer to keep the same tools and ways of doing things forever. Alternatively, the more innovative, forward-thinking risk-takers take the opposite approach and thereby are more open to new processes and systems being implemented into their work.  This is a culture and mindset issue that usually has to be dealt with as well. Beth encourages the audience to ‘Find Champions’ and to recognise their success, as they will ultimately drive the acceptance of innovation for the company.

Beth then continues into the issue of Identifying and Selecting technology, highlighting how user experience is absolutely key. She notes how even if a specific type of technology is great, if the user experience is poor and the technology is hard to use, it will indeed ultimately fail. The social interaction in how you interact with technology is very important. She suggests that the audience should refer to the below Assessment Criteria when making decisions about technology selection;

Beth concludes by discussing the issue of implementation and setting realistic expectations, and how it is vitally important to build a relationship with your legal technology vendor.

Beth finishes off with a key takeaway for our lawyer audience, of which being, “Efficiency can never come at the expense of thoroughness for lawyers. Legal technology that provides efficiency, while increasing not just maintaining lawyer’s ability to be thorough, equals a must have.”

To watch the entire recorded session with Beth, please email [email protected] for the recording link.

To find out more about Beth Patterson, head here

This article was written by Legally Yours Intern, Christine Bulos

This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in, or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.

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