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Legal Practice Management Systems – In Australia

By September 2, 2022lfpms

Mid-tier firms in this country change their practice systems on average every 15 years.

We determine mid-tier firms as above 40 users per firm and up to 200 operatives and therefore mostly fee earners. There are approximately 20,000 legal users in this demographic in Australia and each is affected significantly by decisions to change systems.

Why is there the reluctance to change Practice Matter Management systems more often?
Some suggestions are:

• If the systems are working why should we change?
• The disruption with changing Practice Systems is too impactful on the entire firm and every user.
• The options from a vendor perspective are not great in this market segment?
• These solutions have been around ‘forever’ without much development.
• Following above, there is a sameness about the available options.
• Our firms’ systems overall have been modified and applications made more bespoke for our partnership needs over many years and in many cases the personal needs of key operatives. We want to retain those bespoke aspects.
• With expansion, the composition of our law firms’ personnel has been changing more regularly at present leading to a lack of leadership in technology decision making.
• Cash flow is an issue post Covid times.
• Our lawyers (stakeholders) are seriously too busy now to consider any changes in technology.
• We cannot get partners in the one room these days to consider these matters.
• Our firm stakeholders are terrified and struggling with decisions on CLOUD v In-house deployments because of security and a lack of understanding where their IP is stored in the Ether.
• We do not want ‘off the shelf solutions’ where we are left to our own devices for support and rapid software changes. Our examination of the market indicates this is the default position for CLOUD solutions with responses activated by email or chat rooms.

Following some of the above thoughts and reasoning, inertia sets in, and decisions don’t happen quickly.

Partnership changes

When dealing with law firm structures, attempts to get collective decision making done can be difficult. This applies in areas where partners are not specialist subject matter experts and they want to stay clear and activate the ‘busy’ sign on their office door.

As is often the case, there can be hidden agendas where partners may be planning an exit and considering taking key staff with them.

If retirement is on the horizon for any partner this can mean a delay in any decision making and further capital expenditure.

In post Covid times lawyers are genuinely seriously busy with no time to address technology matters as a priority. The changing office and remote worker environment is also here to stay and firms are attempting to adapt to the new working environment.

No Competitive Edge

Firms can often console themselves covering inaction with the claim that the software available doesn’t enable any edge for the firm. The theory is they must make their own skills the cornerstone of the sell to potential new clients.

Whilst there are legacy practice management software solutions in the legal market where vendors are prepared to do minimal upgrades and just take the maintenance revenues, there are modern systems that have been more recently developed with new tools and fast development environments.

The market segment referred in this article as the mid-tier is generally not in favour of using ‘off the shelf ‘solutions and offshore help desks or those where no hands on support is provided. The back end Practice Systems are integral for the firms’ financial management and need attention and updating as key performance indicators determine.

In summary, it is worthwhile determining the real costs of all elements of your technology platform(s) and as a minimum keeping up to date with new market developments.

Law firms are looking for answers to modernise their software applications and are seeking answers.

Speak with us.

Ian Bollen
Legal First
0432 400290