How to use Minimalism in Legal IT
Many law firms seek complicated solutions to complex problems, often when simple solutions are available. Taking Endpoint Security as an example, one world-leading vendor is surely enough to remain secure?
This article will take you through a simpler approach to operating your law business.
Legal IT is very saturated, you might find that multiple tools are all being offered to you to solve a ‘problem’ and some of these problems might not even exist.
There are simpler ways to solve such problems however, namely to adopt a Design Thinking approach. Design Thinking is primarily a belief that systems are engineered to function within certain parameters, and therefore building on and qualifying these parameters are what then lead to more thoughtful design decisions. There are trade-offs, you don’t want a mammoth IT system ‘just in case’ after all.
So, what really is the problem that you’re facing that a new technology or process is required?
It could be any of the following, or something entirely different:
- IT is becoming too expensive
- Customers are finding it hard to contact you
- New work is being missed or lost because staff are not available
- IT systems are too slow, wasting your valuable time when you want to get work done
Now, the causes of the above could all be inter-related, or totally separate considerations. For example your IT system may be too slow and expensive because it is slow, and this slowness is resulting in new work being missed because staff already have a backlog dealing with existing customers.
Considering the appropriate solutions for this is critical, for example you could adopt Enterprise Open Source solutions such as:
- Using cheaper Samsung Tablets to have a more mobile workforce, running lighter Android Operating Systems.
- Using a client-intake and contact form, integrated into practice management software to ensure customers always feel that they can contact you (see below)
- Adopting self-hosted emails for cost (taking on administration) or otherwise taking up Google Workspace to simplify email handling.
The solution is what you choose for it to be. It is however important to have discovered and qualified the problem, rather than adopting new systems which may in turn cause their own new problems without solving old ones.
Just one example is that emails hosted by a third-party are alwyas invariably expensive, and often unnecessary. At Hayachi Services we host our own emailsand have no problems doing this, simply because we have the expertise to do it. We do not pay a third-party to provide us a limited experience using emails – we own and design the system.
In exactly the same way that deferring a decision is the right choice when you are not ready to adopt a Design Thinking approach, one you have completed your listening you should move quickly to decide on solutions.
Minimalism in Legal IT is then more about planning, listening and discovery. The discovery element is not discovery of shiny new things, but instead of the cohort of options available to solve any given problem.
If your IT systems are very expensive, then implementing an equally expensive system will not solve that problem. Looking at Return on Investment (ROI) figures is helpful, but you must qualify this further: we find some tehnology companies can’t explain how they come to those ROI figures.
You would need an idea of the life-cycle of your systems as well, is your new legal tech from a startup who may be bought-out and ditch your firm as a customer, how long does it take to adopt the platform so that you can realistically start using it (including training staff)? By minimising the amount of tools you use you also minimise risk.
Doing more with less is a critical part of any business, pushing your tools and systems to the limit to ensure you accrue maximum value from investments. Taking on every platform, supplier and system available flies in the face of this simple logic.
Minimalism in Legal IT is not about not doing things. In fact being particular about who you work with and how you work greatly enhances your ability to deliver an effective service for customers, enabling you to do more work or up your rates (or both for the lucky ones).
Trusting effective businesses is part of the solution, having hard-data with which you can make these decisions with is nonetheless critical: is this right for me? is the question you must always ask.
There are a range of tools available, Hayachi Services have partnerships with a range of technology companies which can offer solutions. But are they fixing your problem or another’s? Cutting down to your core need is what helps you answer that problem.