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Transforming the legal industry

Vincent Low, Director & General Manager of Business Imaging Solutions, Canon Singapore | June 30, 2016
With Singapore’s push to become the regional legal hub, how can small and mid-sized law firms compete with big firms and ‘on-demand’ lawyers for a slice of the pie?

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

While the legal and accounting industry has been relatively shielded from "disruption," this is set to change as technology enters the picture. The challenge for the legal and accounting industry is to figure out how to be more efficient as profit margins erode with the "Uberisation" of professional services, where technology aids the sharing economy in providing cheaper alternatives for clients.

With Singapore's push to become the regional legal hub, how can small and mid-sized law firms compete with big firms and 'on-demand' lawyers for a slice of the pie? The bigger firms have dedicated knowledge management systems that are able to efficiently manage their cases. 'On-demand' lawyers compete on price and flexibility without sacrificing quality in their counsel. For example, a will can be drafted for a few hundred dollars through online legal services, which bypasses traditional law firms to provide legal services to consumers. In an environment like this, how can smaller law firms turn these challenges into opportunities for themselves?    

Change management is crucial. The adoption of technology is often perceived as costly and cumbersome process. However, at our recent Think Big event, all three speakers who are veterans in the professional services industry unanimously pointed to opportunities where professional services firms can embrace the change, rather than deny and postpone efforts to tackle the issue and thus finding themselves being ousted from the competition.  

The amount of information and how it gets manipulated and analysed is critical to the success of the firm. In bigger law firms, there are legacy management systems in place that enable lawyers to quickly check for conflicts and if they are suited to represent a certain client. In smaller firms, there is a stronger reliance on Excel sheets, which may not be the best software to use when clients are chasing for results. We have also seen cases where lawyers still store their files in hard copies and go through them manually to make decisions.  If lawyers have to spend a good amount of time looking for information where talent and knowledge are the cornerstone of his/her practice, then there is room for improvement.

In this time and age, there is a need to digitise documents and store them in a centralised document management system in order to improve the knowledge management process. As a law firm, information is key. By empowering the lawyers to access essential information and business processes conveniently, we are in fact encouraging efficiencies and a spirit of doing more for the clients. This could very well be the factor that edges out the competition.


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