Image source: Unsplash
1. Then and Now
Can you imagine your life without today’s conveniences? Could you wake up in the morning without your alarm clock, capture fond memories without an automated camera, dispatch a message to the other side of the globe without instant messaging and emails, take a morning shower without modern plumbing systems, or find your way home at night without street lightening? We take these facilities for granted and often forget that they were not around some 200 years ago. In less than two centuries, we’ve embraced innovation at a systemic level and made room for them in our society, economy, and legislation.
But what if I told you that, in the past, these conveniences required major human input not only from the beneficiary, but also (and, in fact, most notably) from the provider?
A knocker-up doing his job. Image source: LittleDarwin
If you wanted to wake up in time for your factory shift during the first Industrial Revolution in Britain and Ireland, you would’ve needed to pay a knocker-up, a person who’d come by your house and knock on your door or window with a wooden stick to wake you up. Taking a photo would have required a person to operate a Daguerreotype camera, sending a message would have needed a telegraph operator, access to water would’ve entailed the inhuman effort of water carriers, and walking down the streets at night would have been hazardous (or downright dangerous) if not for the link-boys.
Back in the days, the jobs related to contemporary conveniences would have been considered science fiction or pure blasphemy. Now they are widely accepted. What has changed in the meantime? Well, many things. But, most importantly, our perception. I’m not saying that the general public has become more open-minded and tolerant, far from it. What I think made the difference was a long enough exposure to novel realities that triggered new economic and social requirements.
It would be naïve of us to expect the legal industry to be safe from such movements. With new necessities come new roles that must be filled and new people that must be trained.
One such new role on the legal market is that of Legal Technology Solution Manager (LTSM).
2. Job Description
One of the LTSM’s key attributes is to lead strategic initiatives aimed at optimising the performance and efficiency of a law firm/legal department’s IT infrastructure while developing and upgrading the systems. To this end, the manager will be responsible for building and maintaining strong relationships with leaders, business partners, and functional teams. An LTSM must ensure active management and surveillance of critical technical deliverables while answering the requests of a wide range of customers in search of high touch / high volume support.
What does this actually mean? Well, in short, an LTSM will focus on legal output standardisation, risk mitigation, data protection, legal services scalability, process advancement, and optimisation to sustain an integrated growth strategy.
This is no simple task. Given the ongoing pressure on both the firms and the manager, the LTSM will have to monitor the progress of key project parameters to secure the successful implementation of business systems and clinical applications. For this, it will collaborate with other business and IT leaders to ensure cohesive execution of objectives and strategy. Adjacently, a good LTSM will be able to design effective teams and forge fruitful connections that will help push the projects forward. In essence, the LTSM will have to run diverse, large, and complex groups containing tech specialists and legal professionals.
The LTSM must be experienced in application management, system integration, data analysis, and telecommunication structures. Apart from managing complex systems, the LTSM must also interact with other colleagues from different departments and be ready to present project status to senior-level executives. Therefore, they must convey their networking skills and communication prowess to build strong relationships with their colleagues and business partners.
Having a law-related nature, their job entails that they can handle tech-based legal operations and procedures. An LTSM will also have to select and manage legal tech vendors and monitor their performance against agreed KPIs and thresholds.
One key objective of LTSMs is to implement legal processes aimed at reducing risks and creating cost efficiencies. They will focus mainly on software integration, data manipulation, and data privacy. To this end, they must ensure that each solution complies with quality standards. LTSMs will conduct and facilitate review sessions to ensure understanding across business and departments. What is more, the managers will be responsible for ensuring that these requirements are respected through the life of the project. They must also raise awareness and propose mitigating strategies when the incumbent issues threaten to affect budget or deadlines.
LTSMs are the people who understand the strategic imperatives, business capabilities, operating model, and technology needs of a law firm or legal department. Additionally, they are to partner with stakeholders to design and implement solutions aimed at contributing revenue and profit growth, client satisfaction, competitive positioning, and operational effectiveness.
They must promote the management, planning, and governance of technology and require prioritisation within the business, so that tech solutions are swiftly implemented and optimised.
Now more than ever, an LTSM must lead the legal businesses through uncertain times, leveraging iterative team members and agile solutions to guide the others in identifying the needs and to deliver the intended business outcomes.
LTSM’s activity is not limited to defining new solutions, but also to adapt and reuse existing ones to solve new problems. That would entail crafting, clarifying, and articulating business scenarios to better answer a legal business’s needs. For that, a proper level of functional and subject matter expertise must be put forth in the service line. Essentially, LTSMs and their teams will have to work with their colleagues and third-party partners to identify requirements and think critically so as to create successful solutions.
4. Personal attributes and skill-set
LTSMs wear more than one hat, so their skills and attributes must mirror their duties:
- They must display a detailed understanding of business processes and procedures, comprehensive conceptual judgement; they must take the initiative and tackle complex issues;
- They must be capable of coordinating and facilitating meetings, both face-to-face and remotely;
- Their working knowledge of tech systems & solutions, legal processes circuits, and project management methodology must be fully encompassing;
- They should be capable of undertaking complex business tasks and processes, document them effectively, and clearly state objectives;
- They should, without fail, demonstrate attention to detail;
- Good interpersonal communication and negotiation skills, an acute ability to listen attentively, and communicate effectively at all levels of the organisation are key abilities that LTSMs must display;
- LTSMs must embrace a growth mindset: commitment to personal and professional development. They must demonstrate willingness and capability to seek and receive constructive feedback;
- They must be self-starters: experience in running projects from start to finish.
- LTSMs must be capable of working independently, pivot focus, adapt to changed priorities, keep their cool under high-pressure situations, and take the initiative if necessary while successfully prioritising competing workstreams.
Surprisingly enough, job offers for this role come from legal departments (such as the one of US’s Comcast) and less from law firms. Once again, legal departments prove to be early adopters (if not innovators) and light years ahead law firms in terms of forward-thinking and broad-mindedness.
5. Wrapping Up…
In an era where uncertainty is the only certainty, roles such as Legal Technology Solution Manager play a vital part in maintaining legal businesses’ viability. With a sustained focus on legal output standardisation, risk mitigation, data protection, legal services scalability, process advancement, and optimisation to sustain an integrated growth strategy, an LTSM will have to manage mixed, intercultural teams.
This type of work involves sharp interpersonal skills, such as networking skills and communication prowess. LTSMs will have to supervise legal tech operations and procedures in order to obtain cost efficiencies, risk containment, off the chart ROI, and client satisfaction. The proliferation of legal tech solutions grants LTSMs a greater negotiation power while, at the same time, puts them under pressure to legitimise their choice.
That is why LTSMs must demonstrate a selected set of skills that recommend them for such an influential role. Above all, the LTSMs must always stay connected to the industry’s grapevine, be ahead of the game, and virtually manage the future.
Do you see yourself taking up this role? What is it that you find challenging and/or disconcerting?
Get in touch!
This post is a part of the series called #FutureProofLegal in which we describe the skills and roles/jobs that future legal professionals (lawyers and beyond) shall acquire. To learn more or read other articles in the series go to our #FutureProofLegal page.