How Firms Are Securing the Future of the ‘New Normal’

Few sectors overcome the challenges of 2020 better than the legal industry. The lasting changes that we have seen will greatly increase firms' effectiveness in the years ahead.

David Howson, CEO of Six Degrees, looks back at the progress firms have made in the face of adversity and where they can improve further.

The last year has been a monumental jolt for businesses across the UK, and the legal industry is no different. An industry that has historically been conservative in its adoption of new technologies has had to quickly reevaluate its foundations and figure out how to move an entire workforce to remote working without disrupting the day-to-day. That being said, it has adapted and rebounded incredibly well in the face of disruption. Firms have ‘kept calm and carried on’, making sure that clients are still being serviced to the same standard as usual.

While technology has been pushed further up the agenda, one could worry that other longstanding sector priorities – attracting new talent, offering a better work-life balance, and finding ways to provide better client experiences – could be slipping off the agenda. In actual fact, however, we’re seeing the complete opposite.

The Technology Ripple Effect We Didn’t See Coming

Surprisingly – or perhaps not to all to the technology evangelists among you – growing technology adoption is having a knock-on impact on other priorities the legal sector has had for years. Over half of employees in the UK legal sector say working from home has improved their work-life balance, a tremendous feat for an industry that is synonymous with long working hours. The move to remote working is also pushing the sector to meet the expectations of flexibility that generation Z and millennials have of the workplace. While in-person client meetings have had to change to virtual meetings, the situation has also pushed the industry to carefully think about how they can differentiate themselves in improving the client experience and meeting their growing expectations.

While the sector has been adapting to today’s world, and even seeing some unexpected benefits, no one knows for sure what a typical business will look like in six months, a year, or beyond. The ratio of office to home workers may change several times internally and within client organisations, and the processes and technology that underpin businesses will need to flex to support these changes and enable them to grow.

Over half of employees in the UK legal sector say working from home has improved their work-life balance

Priming Today’s Business For Tomorrow’s Business Success

A big part of any law firm’s mission is ensuring that it stays as safe as possible amidst all this change. UK law firms were attacked online nearly 700,000 times last year, 20% more often than in the previous year. Cybercriminals have seen the mass move to remote working as an opportunity and this trend doesn’t look to be waning. While the types of threats haven’t changed, mass remote working has opened vulnerabilities that are much easier to exploit and have consequently led to this rise.

As many employees are no longer within the four walls of their firms, they are often therefore outside of their corporate networks. This fact, combined with the expected continued uncertainty 2021 poses for working patterns, means that IT departments need to expect the unexpected when it comes to devising their cyber security strategies.

Now for the good news – there are steps businesses can take to mitigate these rising risks, while also addressing one of the other industry priorities I mentioned earlier: enhancing the client experience. Many firms are seeing this situation as an opportunity to take back control of their IT, using it not just to keep the business running, but to provide it with a competitive advantage.

Security-first cloud solutions can provide clients with assurances of safety, reliability, and compliance during this tumultuous time. Having access to highly resilient architectures can minimise downtime, while agile solutions enable firms to maximise productivity – enabling their fee earners to get the absolute most out of each billable hour.

Your clients are no doubt facing similar concerns about security as they undergo similar organisational changes, and this is where demonstrating that your technology and infrastructure is ‘secure by design’ rather than security being a bolted-on extra will help to provide a competitive edge.

2021 will be a year like no other for the UK legal sector. From the establishment of entirely virtual legal teams to the creation of new client-centric experiences, it will provide firms with more opportunities to differentiate and grow their businesses as a result of this unexpected disruption. Ensuring cyber security strategies are focused on aligning people, processes, and systems, and are set up to be as flexible as possible, will therefore be key this year. That way, firms can focus on the business priorities of today while feeling safe in the knowledge that they are also set up for a successful and exciting future.

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