Ensuring legal technology software meet appropriate information security standards is critical to any procurement decision, and this checklist will...
What to Look for in a LegalTech Vendor
Software bells and whistles are great – but a LegalTech purchase should also take into account the “who” behind the software.
You’ve been shopping for legal technology and you’re getting closer.
You have identified a potential solution – or maybe you are trying to choose between a final two or three. The functionality meets the needs of your in-house legal department. The price works for your budget.
Yet some concerns remain: Is the software secure? Are the vendors reliable? Are they jerks?
Software bells and whistles are great but
who's behind the software?
In a LinkedIn survey of business-to-business technology buyers, respondents ranked “price” and “features that match my needs” as the No. 1 and No. 2 factors that influenced purchase. After that, however, about half of respondents said they evaluated post-sales support and the vendor’s knowledge of the business. Another third looked for feedback on the product from peer organizations and regular technology updates.
As you approach the final stages of your legal technology selection, here are eight items to consider:
1. Industry expertise
Does the legal tech vendor understand the processes and pressures unique to Legal Departments? Is the legal tech a specific solution for in-house Legal Departments, or is it a refabricated product built for law firms or general business audiences? Has the legal software been implemented by teams like yours – similar size, similar industry?
2. Information security
How will the vendor safeguard your most sensitive company information? How is data stored and backed up? Does the vendor meet or exceed industry standards, such as ISO 27001 certification? Check out our 8-point information security checklist to help you get started.
While it’s important to scout solutions that work for your Legal Department today, it’s also critical to think about your Legal Department in five to 10 years. How flexible are the pricing plans? How easily can you add or subtract licenses? Can the legal matter management software accommodate cross-border colleagues or external collaborators with multiple languages?
What kind of support is available to help you implement and deploy the application? What kind of “help desk” support is available for both routine questions and emergency issues?
As reported by Corporate Counsel, more than half of Legal Departments have or plan to adopt an outside counsel diversity program. LegalTech – a growing and vital segment of the industry – can be a part of positive change, too. How diverse is the vendor’s ownership, management, and front-line team?
6. Time Investment
Recall that a primary promise of technology is to save lawyers time. How will your solution deliver on that promise? How long will it take to configure the legal software and train the team? How long will it actually take to use the key functions? (With modern matter management, for example, capturing new matter data should be possible in seconds – or you risk insurrection from your users.) How much time saving can you reasonably expect from this tech?
7. Updates and Upgrades
How often is the software updated, and what happens when it is? Does it remain accessible? Does the price go up? Moreover, often the best ideas come from the field: Does the vendor provide a way for users to submit ideas for new or improved functionality? Can they share examples of specific changes they made based on user feedback?
There’s one more key attribute to evaluate. It’s one that may seem a little counterintuitive when you are shopping for technology, but it’s significant.
Beware the faceless monolith: Strive to understand the “who” behind your legal technology stack. Scout the company website; stalk the social media channels. Are the people behind the product visible and accessible? Do they have practical, applicable experience? Do they support and show up for industry organizations and causes that matter?
You want people who will be responsive to your IT Department’s questions. You want people who will be empathetic to your most tech-phobic users. You want people who will listen to your feedback and help you find the right solution for that very particular need of that very particular business client.
You want real people who will be around long after launch; if the people are committed to the product, they will be committed to the success of the Legal Departments that use it.