Hudgell Solicitors’ Head of IT Nigel Stott says law firms can benefit hugely from investing in technology – if they fully embrace it and carefully manage the changes in the way it is used.
Mr Stott joined the firm last year in a new role that focuses on the long term strategy and goals of the business, not just soley the day to day IT housekeeping.
And he says he feels fortunate to be with a legal firm which has fully embraced the idea of investing in the latest IT developments.
“There is no doubt that technology plays a major role in enhancing the productivity and profitability of any business in the modern world – and law firms are certainly no different,” said Mr Stott.
“At my firm, founder Neil Hudgell has always been a big believer that technology is a key area for progress and innovation, and now that is the case more than ever.
“The role of the IT manager or head of IT has changed in businesses over recent years, and law firms in particular can benefit from making technology a key part of their strategy and planning going forward.
“We have certainly identified a number of projects within our firm which we are all confident will improve our work both for our own team, and more importantly for our clients.
“It is something we have been very focused on since I joined last year, and I now work very closely with our chief executive Amanda Stevens and departmental heads to ensure business and technology strategy work in tandem. “
Mr Stott has been part of a panel discussing the importance of IT to a modern law firm at The Alternative IT Legal Conference at the Forest of Arden Country Club in Warwickshire, this week.
He is also set to speak at the London Law Expo on October 9, as part of The ‘Illumio’ Tech Hub, which will explore various new initiatives, technologies and leadership measures which can advance law firms in this very competitive market.
The events present a significant opportunity for technical and non-technical decision makers to discuss challenges in the industry and how technology can be used to meet these challenges head on. They provide insight from industry experts on both threats and opportunities, and allow ideas to be shared.
“One of the key areas focused upon is the use of ‘cloud’ technology – the use of applications run on systems in datacentres, rather than on premise,” said Mr Stott.
“The cloud can bring major benefits to law firms, allowing IT professionals the extra time to focus on bringing value in other ways to businesses rather than ‘day to day IT housekeeping. Long gone are the days when IT professionals need to spend hours in darkened server rooms.
“My talk at The London Law Expo will be on ‘The Real World Use of Cloud Technology in Law Firms’ – an area many in the legal sector are only starting to embrace.”
How can legal firms ensure staff will embrace change and new technology?
“My role is to use my knowledge of the industry to investigate and advise as to how technology can improve performance, productivity and profitability – in line with specific goals – and then implement those changes across the firm,” Mr Stott adds.
“The key is embracing a culture with technology at the heart of it – not just something which allows you to email, surf the net and access case files.
“Like any form of change, the key is to educate people and take them with you on the journey by striking a vision of the future and collaborating with others and how technology can be used to realise that future.
“The introduction of technology has to be carefully change managed.
“Cloud technology is one of those areas. Senior figures and decision makers need to be educated as to how and why it can be more secure then storing all data on an onsite server, and how it can bring benefits in other areas to a legal firm.
“I am clear that my role is to ensure technology is at the heart of our firm’s long term strategic planning, and that our staff understand the benefits of change.
“We have to use the knowledge of our IT team to identify systems and software which bring business benefits – whether that be the cloud, portal technology or mobile applications.
“Something always said at our firm is that if you stand still you get left behind – and with technology, that speed of change and development is more rapid than most other areas.
“We are determined to stay ahead of the game.”