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You’ve bought the latest technology but are your employees using it?

Chloe ParfittHow do you measure your return on what is probably the largest investment your firm makes each year? Whether it is a major capital investment in a new document management system or the ongoing maintenance of software, hardware and systems, many millions of £s/$s are spent every year by law firms and legal departments.  

User adoption of these systems must be seen as critical. Implementation of new technology projects will not meet expectation, or could even fail entirely, if the teams tasked with driving adoption don’t prioritise helping users through technology and process changes.

It would be interesting to ask the fee earning community their opinion of the technologies they use every day, which they find useful and which cause frustration. The effect on productivity and, in turn, on profitability of investing in technologies which are under-used, not understood or not fully adopted is clearly an important issue. 

At a time when clients are looking more closely at their legal bills, and corporates are also assessing the efficiency of their legal teams, it is essential that these huge investments are cost effective. Time management is a huge topic in legal, whether it is recorded or calculated for fixed fee arrangements, any inefficiencies in the use of expensive technologies cost money.  There are also less obvious barriers to efficient working - frustration, burn-out, extended working hours leading to lack of work/life balance. Technology should be an enabler not a barrier to success.

A recent article co-authored by Tom Bennett of Eversheds Sutherland in “You must seek adoption across individuals within a law firm or in-house team with different personalities, priorities, ways of working and preferences for using a piece of technology. Widening adoption often relies on those individuals then encouraging their teams and colleagues to use that tool to make a particular process quicker, more accurate and more efficient.” When focusing particularly on those individuals who are resilient to change, the article says, “The focus should be on peer advocates and bespoke, tailored training. This group tends to be very resilient. It’s about sharing information, successes, and vision, but only in small doses, accompanied by a large dose of peer encouragement.”

There can be huge benefits in bringing people on board early in a project, discussing the likely impact, emphasising the time and frustration that will be saved. It can help to get one or two key members of a team together to be your “champions” and ensure that they are fully aware of all the likely benefits of the change. They will spread the word among their colleagues and can also be a source of help.

There are very few legal technologies which are so simple to grasp that they can be introduced without some form of training.  Trainers are well aware that time spent in training has to be kept short, focused on immediate need and easy to access.  However the rewards in terms of improved efficiency greatly outweigh any time spent learning the best ways to adopt the technologies that have been introduced. LTC4™ offers Learning Plans which are designed to lead to industry standard Certification of tech competence for both lawyers and their support staff.  

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Chloe Parfitt is the Digital Learning Manager for Burges Salmon.  Chloe has extensive experience of working with all organisational levels, creating, promoting and delivering training solutions for the firm. Chloe is responsible for identifying, shaping and delivering innovative ways to improve and develop courses, working with the LTC4™ Learning Plans, with the ultimate aim to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Holding a Postgraduate Certificate in the Psychology in Organisational Design and Change, Chloe combines tools and techniques from this to create strategies to support change initiatives that focus on people and not just process. 

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