Category Archives: Technology

How to stand out as a forward-thinking lawyer (Wilford Smith Insights)

Getting ahead in the legal sector can be challenging. With greater competition than ever before and technology creating a broader range of career paths, how can you ensure you stand out from your competitors? In particular, becoming a forward-thinking lawyer with ideas about how the legal sector can adapt to modern technology and become more efficient is an essential part of having a successful legal career. In this post we look at five key ways you can set yourself apart from the pack in 2019.

1. Understand the importance of your online presence

From guest posts to social media statements, the importance of your online presence cannot be overstated. Whilst we usually associate building a following with the influencers of Instagram, there is just as much opportunity for lawyers to become influencers in their sector. The key is to choose an area of expertise that other lawyers enjoy learning about, and dedicate time to becoming the go-to resource for updates in this area. Whilst it is always a good idea to create and share content about your particular practice area, you may gain more attention from discussing current topics such as blockchain, cryptocurrency, Artificial Intelligence or working culture. These are just examples and you should identify key trending topics to stay ahead.

Sharing content from other experts in the area you have identified is a great way to build a strong network and find opportunities to collaborate. Having a strong presence online not only looks great to potential employers, but can also result in referral work including opportunities to give seminars or guest post about the topic.

2. Embrace technology

Many lawyers shy away from technology, either because they are too busy or because they have failed to recognise the importance of technology in the future of legal services. Becoming the ‘go-to’ person in your firm for advice or assistance with technology will keep you at the forefront of your colleagues’ minds and make you an indispensable asset to your firm. Make a point of learning more about new technologies in your firm than anyone else and become a champion for its use. You can even identify emerging technologies that may make your workplace more efficient or profitable. If so, you should be able to demonstrate the impact of your discovery. For example, if you make improvements to the website, you can use Google Analytics to track the impact of your work.

3. Utilise digital marketing

Many lawyers ensure they excel in business development activities in order to make themselves more attractive to firms. In 2019, digital marketing should be an integral part of business development strategy in every firm, but understanding how this is best executed can set you apart from other lawyers in your firm. There are a great number of elements that contribute to a digital marketing strategy, and understanding the part each of these play can help you to address the specific needs of your firm. Law firms large and small often fall into the trap of believing that their work comes from word of mouth, referrals or networking. However, understanding data and analytics related to digital marketing can provide proof of exactly how much business and even cash your efforts are bringing to the firm.

Learning elements of digital marketing that you can do on behalf of your firm, such as social media, blogging or SEO is an excellent start, but can be time consuming. It may be worthwhile identifying local partners who can carry out this work on behalf of the firm to take your digital presence to the next level.

4. Identify opportunities for efficiencies in your firm

Price competitiveness is a real challenge for firms in modern times. We live in an era where clients will routinely call many firms for a quote for work, and simply go with the cheapest. However, this may be an opportunity for you and your firm for two reasons.

Firstly, becoming more profitable doesn’t necessarily mean charging higher prices or bringing in more money. Becoming more efficient is an excellent means of driving profitability in your firm. Technology offers many opportunities to make your firm more efficient, from automatic client updates to contract automation. Try to identify the most time-consuming or labour intensive elements of your work, and look to find a technology based solution.

Secondly, client demand for more efficient services is increasing. Being able to demonstrate that your firm can get client work done with greater accuracy and efficiency can help win you business and build stronger client relationships. It can also generate more business through word-of-mouth – you want every client to say how swiftly you solved their problem.

5. Recruiting digital talent

Careers in technology are broad and varied. From coding to paid advertising, there is no way you can learn all of these skills in addition to being a lawyer. However, you can understand what is required within your firm and find the best digital talent to carry it out. Identifying workers with expertise in technology that can improve the efficiency of your firm, handle your social media and even grow your online presence can demonstrate leadership skills. Your role is project management and strategy, which can set you apart early in your career.

One of the biggest differences from the technology sector to the legal sector is that a great number of workers are in the ‘gig economy’ – preferring to work project to project on a freelance basis. Of course, hiring digital talent to work for your business long term can have a great impact but having the option to have digital or technology workers work on specific problems for a short period of time can save money, and makes the decision to hire them much more straightforward.

As you can see, there are a number of ways to stand out as a modern, innovative lawyer in 2019, and that can make all the difference to your career trajectory. It is up to you how you set yourself apart.

Wilford Smith has celebrated over 30 years in the profession, becoming a most prestigious law firm. Helping clients with wills, probate, conveyancing, entrepreneur visas, investor visas, criminal defence and more, they have a richly deserved reputation for independence hard work and results. You can find and connect with Wilford Smith’s team of solicitors on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Wilford Smith: A modern law firm incorporating new internet technologies

With continuous changes and evolution taking place in the legal sector, and numerous challenges facing law firms who carry out their business in a “traditional” manner, Wilford Smith has chosen to position itself at the forefront of legal technology to provide a superior service to our clients.

We have chosen to utilise modern internet strategies to make ourselves as visible as possible to potential clients, generating business and improving competitiveness by establishing a prominent identity online. Built and supported by online business generation specialists, our website – wilfordsmith.com – is robust in both the quantity and quality of its content, and we have sought to use modern internet based practices combined with a responsive online platform to allow clients to find out about what we do quickly and effectively.

It’s not only about what happens with clients making their initial online enquiry with us – we have invested in developing an end-to-end solution so that enquiries from our website are instantly placed in our system so that we can follow up on all enquiries more effectively and deliver excellent legal services to our clients.  With continued investment in our online strategy, with our new platform having launched only in the past couple of months, we expect our online presence later in 2018 to give us an enviable position in the market. This will enable us to attract new business, strengthen existing relationships with clients and demonstrate our expertise in specific practice areas.

We hear stories of some law firms still running their business through emails and Word documents only, but without a professional case management system, the service delivered to the client would undoubtedly be weaker and less efficient.

Wilford Smith provides clients with high quality legal advice across a wide range of areas, including serious crime, fraud, corporate crime, directors defence, commercial and residential conveyancing, motoring offences and estate planning. With teams based in Sheffield, Rotherham and London, we assist clients throughout England and Wales. We offer strategic legal thinking, presented in a manner that is clear and free of jargon, as part of our exceptionally personal service, and are able to call on the support of the highest quality barristers when necessary.

At Wilford Smith, we embrace modern internet technologies to make ourselves the go-to firm for commercial and private clients. Get in touch today on 0808 278 2031 or contact us online.

Cloud benefits attract law firms

The significant financial benefits of adopting cloud applications, software and infrastructure are encouraging more and more law firms to move to the cloud.Cloud computing is a non-traditional, cutting edge technology. At first glance, it’s not a perfect strategy for the legal industry. Law firms a reputation for being traditional and risk averse. But now many are embracing cloud computing.

The internet is the cloud

So, what is cloud computing? The definition is fairly changeable and hazy. Basically, it means storing your digital data on the internet, somewhere separate from your physical organisational headquarters.

For example, a small law firm wants a customer management system (CMS). They can’t afford to have their own developed. No problem – they can hire access to an industry standard, first-class CMS through the cloud. They only have to pay for the small amount of customer data they store there, instead of a whole application. The firm’s customer data is stored securely and privately, somewhere on a server in California, and retrieved by the CMS when needed.

legal cloud

Flexibility, scalability, profitability

Cloud computing has big benefits. It’s more flexible and scalable than more traditional data storage services. It’s cheaper as well. There are risks and unknowns to using any new technology, but the big up-sides of cloud computing are selling it to many legal professionals.

Some of the many reasons that storage in the cloud is attractive to the legal community are that it:

Offers powerful software at an affordable price

With cloud applications, smaller firms don’t have to pay a large amount to develop on-site customised applications. Instead, they can pay to access a cloud application. This business model is known as ‘Software-As-A-Service’ or SAAS.

Gives law firms a chance against online competitors

Cloud software gives law firms a chance to compete against internet legal service providers that have recently entered the market, taking market share from current law firms. Law firms can keep their physical base, while taking advantage of internet-enabled services that improve productivity.

Meets the new generation’s customer needs

Generation Y wants to access legal services over the internet. Providing for this demographic will allow law firms to keep their business.

Provides reliable backup services

Cloud services have automatic backup facilities. Some experts consider web backups to be more reliable than traditional onsite backup. Internet data backup also manages risk of data loss if onsite backup is destroyed or lost.

Gives environmental benefits

Cloud storage is environmentally friendly. A specialist cloud service provider can make use of economies of scale to get the most energy-efficient servers.For smaller organisations, a study showed there can be up to 90% reduction in energy use and emissions.

Lowers overheads

A strategy that uses cloud computing can significantly lower overhead costs. This is particularly relevant for small law firms that don’t have enough business to fully utilise IT infrastructure. Cloud computing allows them to hire services only as and when they need them. It also reduces that need to hire staff to manage infrastructure.

Law firm reaps cloud benefits

The UK medical specialist law firm Patient Claim Line is a good example of a firm that has embraced cloud computing. As with other legal specialists, information security and privacy was a key concern. The firm selected a private and secure hosted desktop environment. A cloud strategy has allowed them to implement more agile working practices, as well as enhancing the firm’s disaster recovery planning.

The firm’s leadership were positive about cloud computing. They believe it “allows the in-house team to focus on innovation and create solutions which further improve customer experience and productivity (…), provide a more robust platform, and optimise processes for our customers and for colleagues.”

Clear regulations and guidance will make the move to the legal cloud easier

Because cloud computing is a new strategy for most law firms, regulatory guidance has yet to catch up with current practice. A recent whitepaper on challenges and benefits of cloud computing for law firms notes a “distinct absence of any conclusive guidance” from the UK Solicitors Regulatory Authority. Thankfully, the Law Society of Scotland has more practical guidance available. It’s important that clear guidance is out there.

The cloud is here to stay

The benefits are so compelling that it’s inevitable that more law firms will move in this direction. Some of them are already seeing the upside, and many will follow as cloud computing enters the legal mainstream.