If we were to characterize 2020 in a single phrase, we’d call it the “Year of No.”
“No, you can’t go into the office.”
“No, the kids can’t go to school.”
“No, you can’t eat out in your favorite restaurant.”
“No, you can’t play sports – on any level.”
“No, you can’t take that yearly vacation in the islands.”
“No, no, no, no.”
Negative thinking dominated 2020 as everyone simply struggled to survive. Most law firms, like most other businesses, were forced to work remotely, with technology that wasn’t suitable for out-of-the-office productivity or efficiency.
In 2020, 35*45 saw many law firms make survival choices, in an effort to help staff access systems remotely. They settled on whatever first Band-Aid technology was available to help them stay afloat – using their server-based, on-premises software – in their new remote work environments.
Moving into 2021: the Year of “Yes”
So somehow, we made it through 2020, and now we want to hear “yes” again. As law firms begin to evaluate their technology in 2021, we’re starting to hear:
“Yes, I can take charge of my tech stack.”
“Yes, I can make a decision that will take the firm through the next 5, 10, or 20 years, instead of making knee-jerk reactions to survive.”
“Yes, I can take advantage of this new post-COVID business operating environment and embrace the cloud.”
Firms are looking at the true cost of ownership and weighing the risks of their tried-and-true, premise-based systems when confronted with any number of disasters, including a global pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires and security breaches.
Embracing the cloud
If 2020 was the year of “quick decisions to make it all work,” 2021 is the year of smart decisions and evaluating the quality and efficiency of new technology solutions. Products have matured and the list of offerings is getting longer, so many firms are seeking 35*45’s help to make the right decision when it comes to a cloud-based practice management, time & billing and CRM solution.
2021 law firm technology buyers are looking for smarter solutions. They’re looking to alleviate the heavy burden of working from home by killing off their servers and bringing in cloud-based solutions, laptops and tablets that put the “office” wherever and on whatever devices the firm’s attorneys and staff are working with, without risk.
Law firm consumers are becoming more mindful of making better decisions and embracing cloud technology, realizing that it is actually safer and more efficient than keeping technology on in-house servers. They are also becoming more intuitive buyers, looking at cloud-based technology in a cost-effective way because they are no longer afraid of it from a security standpoint. In fact, they are realizing that the cloud actually ensures that attorneys and staff can continue to work no matter where they are or what disaster is happening in the world around them.
Evaluating technology with a new focus
In 2021, the demand for document management systems will rise along with the demand for specific elements that will make firms more economically competitive in CRM, practice management and time & billing. The focus isn’t just on fancy features; it’s shifting to “how does this technology work for me? How does it help my staff? How does it make work easier for them? How fast can I get internet? How secure is it working from home? How secure is it if an employee’s kids are using the same computer for gaming?”
Those who are in charge of the firm’s technology purchases will be savvier in evaluating new tech because the focus will be on how it benefits the firm’s individual employees. And 35*45 will be right there alongside its clients, helping them to choose the right software and to find technology that will run effectively, without overburdening the firm. We want our clients to walk into 2021 wiser, more aware and more educated.
Remembering compassion and the human factor
If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us compassion. Through Zoom, we entered colleagues’ homes and their day-to-day lives. We heard their children and dogs in the background. We became aware of the “human” side of the law firm – coworkers dealing with their own or a loved one’s COVID diagnosis, personal issues, remote working and remote learning. And although we were physically separated, we actually grew closer to one another.
Going into 2021, many firms will be looking at more flexible, hybrid work models, whereas pre-COVID, this was rarely an option. Work-life balance has emerged to the forefront as “working from home” actually became more like “living at work.”
The law office of 2021 will be a more compassionate one for sure, as children continue remote learning and parents continue to work from home. Prior to COVID, if a key case team person working on a project was out due to vacation, illness or emergency, the project most likely would have grinded to a halt. In today’s firm, someone steps in to pick up the baton and keep the project moving because people are more willing to work as a team and information about the project is more centralized. And this is the 2021 silver lining that emerged amidst all the turmoil, tragedy and negativity that defined 2020.
So here at 35*45, we wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous and productive 2021. Please don’t hesitate to tap into our expertise when you are evaluating new technology this year. We are more than happy to help you get to a “YES” that will propel your firm forward and safeguard your secure information in the years to come, no matter what’s thrown at all of us.