A number of factors go into getting the law right. These can range from the depth of your industry experience to the critical-thinking skills you’ve acquired from law school. But when you think of a legal professional’s typical working day – whether you are a sole practitioner or junior solicitor – gathering good-quality legal research materials takes up time. And for good reason too, because being across the right case law and precedents adds value for your clients. But what if you could shrink your time on the clock with the help of a smart legal research tool?
James Jarvis, Vice President – Legal Solutions, Thomson Reuters Asia and Emerging Markets, has spent years looking at ways to improve legal research for practitioners. James was recently joined by Alex Cato, Product Manager – Legal Research, Thomson Reuters Asia and Emerging Markets, for an interactive screening to discuss the value of adopting smart legal research tech. As it so happens, a primary benefit to smart legal research is not only confidence the user has in the end result, but the minimal time it takes to retrieve information.
In our interactive online event, James and Alex presented on areas such as the current legal landscape, a Barrister’s success story and how to evaluate research methodologies. To discover ways to optimise your billable hours, join the complimentary webinar on demand.
Small law experiences: How do yours compare?
During The Future of Legal Tech: How Smart Legal Research Values Your Billable Hours, our live audience engaged with a number of poll questions. The respondents included a number of Law Firm Principals, to Barristers and solicitors employed at boutique firms, echoing similar responses to those outlined in a recent Thomson Reuters report. Check out whether the following findings are in line with what you experience, or join the webinar on demand to cast your vote.
Legal research multitasking
In their presentations, James and Alex talk a lot about how some avenues to obtain legal knowledge can be inefficient. For instance, many lawyers who lean on free resources will liken their experiences to finding a needle in a haystack or a hit and miss scenario.
Furthermore, if you struggle to obtain your legal research from a single source, you are not alone. Among our webinar audience, nearly one third revealed that they visit countless sites to retrieve legal research information. In fact, only 6.7% said they visit one to two places, while the majority conduct their legal research in two to four places at 63.3%.
However, James explained that the number of places you go to get your legal answer isn’t necessarily problematic. Issues generally arise when too much time is spent trying to retrieve the appropriate research materials. All of this can be avoided through the use of a smart, single legal research tool.
Work-life balance a priority
Legal practitioners with roles in the boutique law space are known for reaping the benefits of work-life balance, and our webinar audience expressed this experience through their engagement. More than half of the webinar crowd dubbed this factor as being the aspect they enjoy the most about their role within the profession. The second most enjoyable aspect for respondents quizzed were the client relationships they foster, coming in at 31.6%, followed by the 13.2% who hail the small law segment’s business model as a plus factor.
Let’s say you could save 30 minutes per day in your workplace. What would you do with the extra time? If our poll results are anything to go by, chances are you are probably thinking about work-life balance or using the time gained to improve the quality of your legal work.
“Even 30 minutes of savings can be meaningful value to an individual lawyer on an individual matter, especially when evaluated over the course of the many matters they run per year”– James Jarvis, Vice President – Legal Solutions, Thomson Reuters Asia and Emerging Markets
3 take-aways from the webinar discussion
According to Alex, with every source of law there are three core elements: the information contained in the site, how that information is organised and how the search has been designed to operate across that content. As the Product Manager – Legal Research explained:
“Understanding these features is not a solution to solve – there are significant enhancements we have made in the new Westlaw to improve these elements. However with every source of information online these three characteristics are forever present.”
“Challenges arise when you are searching across multiple sources. With more sources there are more variables. This added complexity leads to more time spent researching , additional searches and increased risk management to mitigate the fear that you may be missing out”– Alex Cato, Product Manager – Legal Research, Thomson Reuters Asia and Emerging Markets
With Alex’s comments in mind, which are explored further in her mini masterclass, here are some key take-aways:
- Evaluate your legal research habits. Are you (or your lawyers) spending more time than you’d like on retrieving legal research results? Work out whether there is a way to improve this without cutting corners. Should you turn to smart technology for instance, you may find that your results are not only quicker to retrieve, but provide a more complete set of information that you cannot achieve through free online research. Find more ways to raise the bar on your processes in this list of legal research tips.
- Determine your goals. Put simply, identify the problem you are trying to solve. Your key goals should align with your highest priorities. This could mean allocating time to improve the quality of your legal work or putting tools down earlier of a work day.
- Shift the burden. Where you have tasks that should be simpler to complete, faster to knock over– look for smart technology that is useful to you. If your legal tech is useful in the context of the problem you are trying to solve, consider the value of investing in smart legal technology. As James said during his presentation, “…utilising features like machine learning, AI and suggestive user experiences in legal research tech can offer you relevant law in less time and enable you to spend more time with your clients and on strategic, decision-making.”
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