Legaltech innovation: The ‘Instagram effect’ versus authentic transformation

Nigel Williams, product director, LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions.


Law firms’ technology decisions are often influenced by those of their competitors, either to try and stay ahead or indeed, out of fear of appearing outdated. Today, with the much-lauded explosion of generative AI, these influences can be even more pronounced.


The ‘Instagram effect’

Recently, I was thinking about the ‘Instagram effect’ and it occurred to me that this is precisely what the world of legal tech often experiences. Like the social media platform, where perfectly curated, styled, and presented content can create an illusion of success and innovation, pressurising the audience into feeling they must keep up or be viewed as a failure; many law firms today, can feel the same kind of pressure to adopt the latest, shiny tech – and yes, I’d suggest that “AI” in all its guises is the current “most followed influencer”!

Undoubtedly, AI offers incredible transformation opportunities, and should certainly be part of any firm’s technology mix. However, rational business judgement suggests, that rather than leaping on the “AI” bandwagon – or any other technology trip for that matter – a more astute approach is to take a step back to determine where improvement is most needed to meet business and client needs, and then determine a plan of action that applies the most appropriate technology to help address the identified requirements.

The goal for law firms is to ensure that clients are best served – albeit at the appropriate cost. The value of technology, therefore, lies in how well it’s leveraged to continuously improve and enhance client service, outcomes, and experience. So, rather than succumbing to the ‘Instagram effect’, concentrating on what works for the organisation and clients, will deliver more worthwhile results. That’s not to say there isn’t a need for innovation and exploration – just not as an exclusive focus.


Innovation built on a strong foundation, not quicksand

It comes down to the fundamentals and having an effective strategy that balances risk and reward. Firms must not be lured into prioritising flashy, high-profile initiatives over more practical and sustainable solutions that deliver tangible value to clients, and any audience should remember that the ‘Instagram Effect’ can mask underlying challenges and shortcomings.

Is the technology infrastructure sound? Frequently, firms believe that using Microsoft infrastructure gives them a solid technology foundation and enhanced security protection. Potentially – and only if – they are on the fully supported versions of software. Microsoft releases its security update every month (commonly referred to as Patch Tuesday), and the company remains amongst the most hacked companies today.

Likewise, is the firm using appropriate business-critical systems on current versions of the software – be it for finance, practice management, customer relationship, matter management, case management, document management, or any other? Unsupported software versions don’t receive new feature updates, certifications, or security fixes.

Is the firm’s data readily available? Is it even electronically held? AI tools can work with unstructured and disparate data but if it’s not being captured, or is in old and outdated software, then there’s little that a LLM can do. It’s akin to building strategies for innovation on quicksand.

A cloud approach is another critical element of any technology strategy. Regardless of the firm’s approach to the cloud – private, hosted, public, or hybrid – are there backup and disaster recovery plans in place? More importantly, are these processes tested? Would the key stakeholders in the business know how to access and execute those procedures? All this constitutes business continuity hygiene.


Authenticity in an Instagram world

In the face of the ‘Instagram Effect’, law firms must navigate the authenticity paradox: balancing the desire to project an image of technological sophistication with the imperative to pursue genuine innovation that drives meaningful impact. Recognising when ‘perfectly curated content’ is probably too good to be true is important. Rather than succumbing to peer pressure or chasing trends, firms should focus on establishing firm foundations and developing a clear vision and strategy for leveraging technologies to enhance client service, operational efficiency, and organisational resilience.


Sponsored by LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions.

Image: Canva.
Guest Post
This post has been contributed by a guest writer.