Last month, BigHand hosted its first User Conference in over two years, bringing together over 350 attendees from all over the globe in a broad range of capacities – from heads of IT and finance, to firm leads for operations, resource management and support services.
As someone who has worked in law firms and managed both knowledge and technology teams, working with technology suppliers, I firmly believe that we here at BigHand are different. Rather than merely a supplier, we consider ourselves to be a legal technology partner to law firms who want to be engaged.
For me, one of the key takeaways from the latest BigHand user conference, therefore, was the engagement and openness I witnessed throughout the day. Both from those clients who took part in the multiple panel-led sessions I was pleased to host, and from those in the audience wanting to learn more - all of which reinforced the fact that we have successfully created a BigHand community who strive to better not only their own firms, but the industry-wide provision of legal advice services.
If we put all else aside regarding the business of law, at the core of those legal services sits the legal document as the physical manifestation of a lawyer’s knowledge, experience and expertise. Yet, the document creation process may not always be as streamlined as it should be, particularly if we consider that legal teams might be creating these documents at all hours of the day or night. No one wants to be correcting templates at 10pm or dealing with issues around version control when a deal is about to close at 2am!
My first insight from our Document Creation sessions - one which was staunchly reinforced by our panellists Martin Dentith, Systems Analyst IT at Simmons & Simmons, Carmel Farrell, IT Trainer at Dillon Eustace and Stuart Chapman, Head of IT Applications at Osborne Clarke - therefore is that yes, document creation is sexy. From the development of firm-wide templates that span geographies and jurisdictions; the ability to seamlessly manage the entire lifecycle of a document; integration with a firm’s DMS and CMS; metadata management; and the introduction of clause libraries – document creation systems can speed up the time spent creating legal documents, enforce brand consistency, ensure compliance with data privacy and data destruction legislation – allowing lawyers to focus their efforts on the part that is most important to them: the legal advice itself.
Martin Dentith, Systems Analyst IT, Simmons & Simmons
Carmel Farrell, IT Trainer, Dillon Eustace
Stuart Chapman, Head of IT Applications, Osborne Clarke
Another fundamental piece of advice our panellists shared was around the implementation and adoption process. The best practice they advocated was two-fold: firstly, be patient and adopt a modular approach. I was reminded of the old adage, “What is the best way to eat the elephant?” One bite at a time.
Identify project sponsors, ideally heads of department; engage with project champions who will reinforce the need for teams to engage with the training available to them. Tackle one department at a time, and make training accessible in ways that suit today’s hybrid and flexible working models: short and snappy, pre-recorded training video’s that staff can consume on the fly or when it suits them supports ‘on demand’ learning.
My final takeaway and call to action from the day ties back to BigHand’s ethos as a legal technology provider. Each of the clients who spoke on our behalf has truly engaged with us and helped inform the evolution of our solution. They have done so by engaging with their internal stakeholders and listening to the requests from their users. They have brought that feedback to us to drive improvements. My point, put simply, is this: if you do things in the dark, you get no adoption. So, if you want to help us take document productivity further, be a part of it. Don’t sit on the sideline and hope that someone else has your idea. Get it touch!