As legal firms continue to rely on technology to remain competitive, digital competency becomes increasingly crucial. A survey conducted by PracticeEvolve in partnership with Legal Practice Management in the UK and Australia revealed that law firms are not exploiting all the benefits that practice management systems (PMS) can provide to their business. While a majority of respondents say they couldn’t operate without their PMS, 74% of UK respondents and 50% of Australian respondents admit that they use less than half of its’ full capabilities.

The Need for Increased Digital Competency

The report outlines a clear link between the utilisation of a system and people’s ability to fully understand it, referred to as digital competency. While a clear majority of respondents (69% in the UK and 81% in Australia) say their workforce has at least a “functional” understanding of their IT systems, only a few classify their people’s understanding as “good” or “advanced”. Most of the respondents (77% in the UK and 84% in Australia) believe that their workforce’s digital literacy needs to improve.

The primary driver for improving digital competency is finding and encouraging more innovative ways of working. Other factors include a higher reliance on technology due to hybrid working, security, a greater expectation of tech savviness from clients. In the UK, more than half (54%) of businesses want to make their workforce ready for changes in the wider legal landscape.

Three Ways to Increase Digital Competency

To address this issue, some firms have taken training into their own hands. Wayne Lord, Head of IT and Business Improvement at CFG Law, says, “Training plays a big role in improving digital literacy, and we’re now delivering monthly, one-hour sessions to our colleagues. We’re going back to basics – the session includes a refresher course on our systems’ fundamentals, plus some top tips and a look at new features. It’s not a huge time commitment, but it’s really helping.

However, there is some debate about who is responsible for bringing people up to speed. The majority (76% in the UK and 70% in Australia) place responsibility on employers, followed closely by the individual. Still, some (27% in Australia and 15% in the UK) believe that vendors should impart skills and knowledge about their system.

  1. Invest in regular training and upskilling: To fully utilise the capabilities of their practice management system (PMS) and increase digital competency, law firms need to invest in regular training and upskilling. This investment should be led by internal IT or training departments, ensuring that everyone is properly familiarised with the firm’s systems.
  2. Identify champions in the firm: It is crucial to identify champions within the firm who can drive adoption and help spread knowledge and best practices. These champions can be individuals who have a passion for technology and are willing to lead by example. They can provide support and training to users, encourage others to adopt new technologies, and promote a culture of innovation within the firm.
  3. Look for a provider who offers a variety of training tools: It is essential to involve the PMS vendor in training and optimisation to ensure that the system is being used to its full potential. Law firms should look for a provider who offers a variety of training tools, such as online learning platforms, on-demand courses, webinars, and access to client success teams. This can help ensure that employees have access to the resources they need to improve their digital competency and fully utilise the PMS capabilities.

Benefits of Using the Full Scope of Features

Law firms can reap significant benefits by using the full scope of features in their practice management system (PMS):

  • Increased productivity and efficiency: With streamlined processes, firms can complete more work in less time, freeing up resources for other tasks.
  • Improved client service: By leveraging technology to automate routine tasks and provide real-time information, firms can provide a better client experience, leading to increased satisfaction, repeat business, and referrals.
  • Competitive advantage: Digitally competent firms can differentiate themselves from competitors by working more efficiently, offering better client service, and more competitive pricing, making them an attractive choice for potential clients.

In conclusion, digital competency is critical to remaining competitive and meeting client needs. Firms should focus on upskilling and optimising their PMS, identifying champions to drive adoption, and involving their vendors in training and optimisation.

Unlock a wealth of insights on digital competency and other industry-critical topics by downloading the full report from Practice Evolve today!