Do all law firms need to have an IT Department?

Technology
Yaya Khumalo - May 30, 2022

“Information technology is at the core of how you do your business and how your business model itself evolves.” Satya Nadella

Information Technology, popularly known as IT, is typically used within the context of business operations, dealing with computing, including hardware, software, telecommunications and generally anything involved in the transmission of information or the systems that facilitate communication.

Without IT in law firms or businesses in general, there wouldn’t be a space to create, process, store, retrieve, communicate and exchange all kinds of electronic data with clients and colleagues. But now, with the Tech Department involved, technology processes are now easier, increasing efficiency, value, quality, and productivity. The Covid-19 pandemic showed the world, particularly businesses, the importance of having an IT department, no matter how big or small the company is. By embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the legal space, legal practitioners are able to work from anywhere in the world and are available 24hours to attend to all matters, because of the existence of the Technology department.

How does the Tech department assist the Legal department.

The most important change brought into the legal profession by the Tech department is the creation of a database of cases by lawyers to track, edit, and search easily whenever required. Databases such as Lexis Nexus, Juta and Sabinet amongst others. Legal professionals have been equipped to work together on important matters with more productive tools like Google, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc. All documents are created and stored in electronic form. The effort required to create a document is reduced with technology.

Electronic legal research has become the most common method of legal research. Legal professionals have the option to choose from a wide range of legal databases to perform research, verify the law, and track the recent developments and amendments.

The drafting of legal documents is the most important thing for a legal professional, and technology has enabled that in making the documents free from any errors and with proper formatting for better presentation.

Technology has helped in filing legal documents online. This has reduced trips to the court, conserves the environment, and unnecessary waiting to file the document as it can now be done online and can be tracked as well for the current matter status. When a document is filed online, with the court or any other authority, it is reviewed and approved relatively quickly. In case, if there is some error in the document which is rare at MG Law, one can know that instantly and resubmit it after making the necessary changes, the need to wait for a document for days to be returned through the post, it is no longer there.

In addition, law firms can automate processes using information technology, which reduces time, thereby reducing costs. In law firms time is literally money; therefore, one cannot afford to waste it because the time saved can be utilised for other tasks for your clients, which in turn speeds up business productivity and processes significantly.

According to Krume Nikoloski, in the last decade, many scholars were trying to develop the idea of IT as a source of competitive advantage, focusing on IT capabilities. 

An overview indicating four different relationships:

  1.  IT has a direct and positive effect on firm performance/ competitive advantage; 
  2.  IT has a direct and negative effect on firm performance/competitive advantage;
  3. There is no connection and no effect between IT and firm performance/competitive advantage; and
  4. IT has a contingent effect on firm performance/competitive advantage. 

Conclusion

Technology helps businesses keep their ideas out of the hands of their competitors. It protects financial data; confidential executive decisions and other proprietary information can be protected using technology.

Client satisfaction is the prime objective and that can be increased by proper use of technology. In information technology, networks are smoothly built, data is safeguarded; databases are created and administered; employees are troubleshot; computers and landline/mobile devices are checked for problems, and business information is maintained. 

Information technology can change the way businesses compete. For this reason, you should view information systems strategically, that is, as vital competitive networks, as a means of organisational renewal, and as a necessary investment in technologies that help a law firm achieve its strategic objectives.

Yaya Khumalo

Yaya Khumalo

IT Administrator