Alex Holt explores the benefits of technology to “free” lawyers
For this week’s Judge’s Insights Series Exizent are joined by Alex Holt of Cashroom, to discuss how Cashroom is developing their solutions to solve key problems of today’s solicitors, why driving efficiencies in firms is more important now than ever and how technology should be adopted to “free” lawyers for the more value-add elements of their role, not to remove them from the process.
Alex, what problems is Cashroom solving for today’s solicitors and why are these so significant?
Cashroom’s whole mission relates to freeing lawyers from the complexities of the accounts rules and helping them achieve optimal efficiency and risk avoidance when running their law firms. By delivering Legal Accounting as a Service we can help them with issues such as:
- recruitment of quality finance staff
- monitoring and supervision of a function that many lawyers don’t understand fully (I’m not being unfair — I’m a lawyer too)
- concerns over business continuity — our clients no longer need to worry about holidays, sickness or spikes of activity
- compliantly running their business
- having accurate up to date data to enable them to manage their firm effectively
How is Cashroom developing its services to better support law firms operating in Wills & Probate?
Our in-house tech development team and an ethos of continuous improvement means that Cashroom constantly strives for more efficient ways of working. We know, for example, that in the Wills and Probate sector there is always a need for safe and secure collection, recording and moving of client monies. We have developed bank monitoring and payment processes which maximise the opportunities presented by Open Banking, allowing our client firms to optimise their own clients’ experience — crucial in these days of online reviews.
In last year’s insights, you said that to encourage greater integration of technology by practitioners we need to use experts. Do you think there has been a shift in the integration of technology across the last year or is there still a lot of work to be done?
It’s still a work in progress. The concept is becoming better understood, however there’s a way to go yet. Numerous suppliers to the sector understand that a seamless flow of data through their various data points is not only good for efficiency, but also for reducing risk with regards security and also the eradication of errors.
What are the risks of practitioners not adopting new technologies in this space?
Those that cling to “the old ways” risk being left behind. That said, I’m not at all advocating the removal of the right “old ways” such as client service and the application of true human legal expertise, it’s just those things that can be hugely augmented by implementing the right tech in the right way. A good lawyer using the right tech in the right way will outperform an equally good lawyer not using tech.
What priorities should practitioners be looking to solve with new tech?
An absolute priority is simplifying the flow of data through the firm. That goes for initial interactions even before the person is a client. It relates to the successful onboarding of a client with the minimum fuss for them at what may be an emotional time (even if only at will writing stage), and then managing the information they give to a firm in a way which maximises the various tech solutions available to gather information (if it’s a will or trust to be prepared) or money (if it’s estate administration). Getting those things right will improve their client’s experience and create efficiency which will benefit the fantastic lawyer who will be able to focus on their client’s requirements without the same administrative burdens.
Why is improving efficiencies within firms so important now? What benefits does this have regarding the way firms operate and the way a solicitor uses their time?
Aside from the fact that inefficiency creates risk of poor financial performance and endangers the business, proactively achieving efficiency creates a better environment for staff to operate in. They are enabled to provide the best possible service to their clients and the removal of that frustration can be an important element for staff retention. No one likes to feel that they are being prevented from carrying out their job in the way they know it needs to be done.
What is the biggest challenge facing professionals working in the sector today and how can this be overcome?
The challenges are numerous, I’ve already touched on a few. If I had to pick one I’d say it’s achieving the optimal experience for the client. The reason I’ve picked that one is because it relies upon elements of tech use, of expertise, of sensitivity. It is the whole thing – because if any one element fails, it will bring down the whole customer experience, reducing 5 star reviews to 3 or 4 stars, and the impact of those things is becoming more and more relevant, particularly in private client sectors.
In what ways do you expect the industry to change/adapt in the next five years?
I think there will be continued adoption of technology, but I hope it will be utilised to free the lawyers to give the best possible advice and service to their clients, rather than looking to remove them from the process. Certain process elements can absolutely benefit from the proper application of appropriate tech, but at its core, more than many sectors, the application of expert knowledge in conjunction with the empathy required means that tech cannot “do it all”. Those that succeed will marry the two best.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s British Wills & Probate Awards, and why do you think events like this are so important to the sector?
The celebration of continued great work in trying times. It’s so important to recognise success as it positively reinforces the right behaviours. It is inspirational for others to understand how some firms are doing well, so that they can look to replicate methods, thereby improving the sector as a whole.
This article was submitted to be published by Exizent as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.