According to a recent report, lawyers spend only 29% of their time on billable hours. Why so low? Because they spend roughly half of their time on administrative tasks.
If you took these stats to the Partners, they might be shocked. Or they might already know this is a problem, and they’ve already tried everything to boost efficiency, from increasing incentives to hiring more staff.
So, what if you told them that you have a way to tip the scales to increase the firm’s billables on a foundational level?
If you’re a CIO or other technology decision-maker at a law firm, the Partners look to you to advise on the tools and technology that will help the firm spend less time on administrative tasks so staff can spend more time with clients. That’s a tall order to fill, especially in an industry that has historically been slow to adopt new technology. But when partners clearly understand how IT efficiency can positively impact billables and improve the client experience, they’ll feel more confident in investing in IT.
To help you make your case, we put together a list of 5 ways you can impact quickly and effectively modernize the way the firm delivers IT services.
1. Digitize and Automate Work Processes
Law firms are under enormous pressure to maximize their billability and minimize overhead expenses. That’s where automation comes in: when automation increases process efficiency, admin time is reduced, leaving more time for billable hours. One of the most important steps a law firm CIO can take is to embrace fixed-price SaaS solutions to automate the delivery of IT services. The best IT Service Management solutions, like ServiceNow, also can apply this same IT cost-reduction model to streamline other enterprise services—everything from HR to operations to client case management.
2. Focus on IT Services that Address Real Challenges
There are a plethora of flashy IT tools and technologies available today, but if you’re rolling out new systems and workflows without considering how employees will use them, you could see your ROI go down the drain. Historically in law firms, technology has been viewed as the root of the problem, not the solution. That’s why it’s crucial to constantly engage with the firm’s lawyers and other employees, asking them what problems and pain points they’d like to solve in order to determine how technology can help them work more efficiently. Every technology solution and process you roll out should be directly responsive to a problem they’ve identified. Asking the right questions can make all the difference in how IT is perceived and ultimately what technology is truly needed. When they see how their lives will be made easier and that your initiatives are dependable, user-friendly improvements over what they already have, you’ll see adoption and ROI go through the roof.
3. Get the Fundamentals of Legal IT Service Management Right
In order to streamline the way IT services are delivered at your firm, you’ve got to keep your basic IT services running consistently and reliably. Get familiar with the principles of ITIL, and make sure all subsequent decisions are rooted in the ITIL framework. In doing so, you’ll make sure operations are running smoothly within the firm, while freeing up your own team to work on larger, strategic IT initiatives to grow your firm. If you haven’t yet implemented an ITSM solution, find a deployment partner that has a time-tested approach with the ability to support ongoing ITSM initiatives.
Check out the video below and see how Crossfuze helped implement legal IT services for MacFarlanes, LLP
4. Align IT Planning to Strategic Business Priorities, aka Billables
On its face, IT services is not at the top of law firm leadership’s priority list. In fact, partners often don’t even see the direct connection between IT and business strategy. That’s why it’s critical that you create strong alignment between your IT planning efforts and your overarching firm strategy. Often, the magic words here are “increase billables and improve client experience.” When you can prove to the Partners that you understand the priorities and needs of the firm, and can demonstrate that your initiatives can directly impact profitability, you’ll succeed in gaining buy-in.
5. Provide Business Leadership, Not Technology Leadership
At many law firms, senior leadership tends to view CIOs as implementers of technology, not as partners in defining and executing on business strategy. However, nearly two in three CIOs say that business and leadership skills are more important than technology skills, according to a recent Oxford Economics study. The most successful CIOs don’t wait for their organization to come to them to set direction and priorities. Rather, seize your role as a CIO to proactively offer up business strategy from your unique IT-focused vantage point. You can draw on your own leadership strengths to move your technology initiatives forward. For example, put together diverse stakeholder teams to provide guidance and direction on your IT initiatives. Find IT champions and evangelists within their organization to increase awareness and support for what you’re trying to achieve. Connect with them often and build an open channel of communication and collaboration.
When you modernize the way your firm works by leveraging an automation platform (i.e., ServiceNow), you’re increasing process efficiency which directly helps to reduce time spent on administrative tasks. In doing so, lawyers and other staff members will have more time for client work. However, that’s often easier said than done.
That’s why 68% of CIOs say they benefit from having collaborations with external technology partners in areas like IT Service Management. The legal IT experts at Crossfuze are experienced in helping law firms get maximum value from their IT Service Management investment. And, we know first-hand by implementing ITSM in law firms, CIOs can make a direct impact on increasing billable hours and improving the client experience.
If you would like to learn how other law firms use ServiceNow to reduce administrative burdens on their staff and significantly improve the client experience, reach out to us at LetsTalk@Crossfuze.com.