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Creating the Agile Law Firm of the Future

Steve SumnerAs we head into another 6 months of uncertainty, with the UK Government once again urging as many of us as possible to work from home, are we coming to terms with the fact that, the way that we used to work, is fast becoming a distant memory? The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly given companies of all shapes and sizes (and from all sectors) the opportunity to explore, in more depth, their approach to agile and remote working. The legal sector is no different.

Current working conditions have forced many firms to pivot with respect to the workplace, although many innovative firms had already recognised the benefits to be gained and had programmes underway to effect a change.

A major challenge (under current COVID conditions) to ‘agile’ working for many firm’s lawyers, has been the inability to meet with clients, peers and various teams, face-to-face. Most, (if not all) of these users were ‘agile’ to some extent, travelling to meet clients and working remotely prior to COVID. Working conditions, and the decisions made by the Government to regulate them, could change again. With this in mind, agile working isn’t going away - the wheels have certainly been set in motion.

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Agile working uses technology to create a ‘new normal’ way of working where all employees with that technology can work at different times, from a variety of locations, provided that the firm's needs are met, and clients are happy. Agile working can bring about a host of benefits ranging from greater employee productivity, increased motivation and a decrease in office costs. But what will this all look like? What challenges need to be overcome?

Connected technology

A useful place to start is by engaging with your people to really understand what they want and need from their working lives. Invest in the right technology and concentrate on changing work behaviours and employee’s mindsets. From a technology point of view, there are a host of different tools to consider - laptops, convertibles, smartphones, mobile devices and even hot desks and docking stations - all the while, connectivity is essential, be that from Wi-Fi or cellular services. Agile working also requires a wider change in overall IT strategy. An agile workforce requires services such as unified communications, team / collaborative platforms and VPN technology amongst others, thus allowing everyone to do their job properly regardless of their location. 

Connectivity will be a key factor for staff working remotely as firms try to meet the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce. Ultimately, people need secure encrypted and reliable connections so that they can quickly and easily reach the organisation’s applications and services. After all, working in a disconnected environment means that workers cannot be as productive as before which ultimately leads to frustration and potentially unhappy clients. Creating an office-like, seamless experience for users while working remotely is the holy grail.

As Taylor Vinters evolves and adapts to meet the demands of a different way of working, ensuring that our workforce can seamlessly interact with each other and our clients is critical. NetMotion plays a pivotal part in this, giving us visibility and reliable connectivity.

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Security

Security must always be a top priority for any firm developing a remote working strategy. Encrypting traffic on unknown or insecure networks can avoid so-called Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks and prevent any accidental data loss. The reputational damage (on top of any punitive damages) would be a disaster for any law firm - large or small. An agile workforce also has the potential to be the target of cyber attack and the safety nets that a secure office network provides are no longer present, the need to protect the remote worker is now paramount.

Compliance

Compliance is critical for the legal sector. Failing to comply is ultimately a costly exercise. On the one hand, your organisation could face stiff fines from the relevant regulatory body, and on the other, there are costs associated with reputational damage. Needless to say, no organisation wants to deal with a raft of compliance issues resulting from its remote working policies. With this in mind, ensuring that your client data is secure should be a critical focus for any firm. But that’s the important point in this discussion; any security solution has to allow employees to access internal systems and applications from anywhere, on any network, without the worry of being compromised.

Employee experience

Employees who are remote or mobile need to be able to carry out their work without any impact on their employee experience (EX) - a seamless experience results in greater productivity. You don’t want your employees complaining about annoying re-authentication practices or poor-quality video calls - often a frustrating experience. Indeed, the pandemic has seen a huge uptake in video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, becoming the new normal way to communicate. 

Going agile should be a win-win scenario for firms and staff. Reports suggest that agile workforces are more productive and happier which is good news for firms and is good news for their clients.

Get the technology right and everyone wins.

Steve Sumner is the IT Director at Taylor Vinters LLP, an international law firm supporting the businesses which drive the innovation economy, and the entrepreneurs and private wealth that underpin them. Our practice is global, operating from innovation clusters in the UK and Asia. 
 

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