We live in a golden age for startups. It seems that every industry is being disrupted by new companies that are changing the way business is done. Despite facing many obstacles, startups have thrived by embracing new ideas, and particularly new technology, to compete with bigger, better funded rivals. Small law firms and solo practitioners also have the opportunity to utilize new ideas and technology in the legal field to achieve the same success.
Startups and Small Firms Face Similar Challenges
Startups face many challenges. By definition, startups are new. They don’t have existing clients or customers, or established reputations that they can rely on to drive business. Every customer is a new customer that must be won over, and a startup’s reputation has to be built scratch, from the ground up.
Additionally, startups are generally smaller than the competitors that they face in the marketplace. While some new businesses begin with abundant funding and plentiful resources, they are the exception, not the rule. Established competitors are larger and have access to more money, manpower, and other resources.
Small law firms and solo practitioners encounter many of these same obstacles. They may be new, either as a firm as a whole or to a specific practice area, and must find, attract, and retain new clients to survive and prosper. And small firms and solos also face competition from larger, more established firms that may be awash in prestige and stocked with armies of associates ready to throw hours of labor at any problem.
It’s clear that to succeed in this challenging environment, startups and small firms can’t simply do things the same way they’ve always been done, and the same way their competitors do them. Trying that approach will simply lead to being outmuscled and overwhelmed by bigger, better known, and richer rivals. So what can be done instead?
New Ideas and Technology Have Enabled Startups’ Success
Many startups have succeeded not by trying to replicate the way things have been done in the past, but by utilizing new technologies in innovative and creative ways to fundamentally alter the way their industries function. In particular, successful startups have found ways to utilize technology to drastically enhance the efficiency of their businesses to compete with, and in many cases surpass, their larger rivals. In effect, they’ve figured out how to do more with less.
How Small Firms Can Utilize New Technology to Compete
Small firms and solo practitioners can utilize new technology to do the same thing, and to achieve the same success. Just as the golden age of startups has been enabled by new technology, there are now more new technological advancements available to attorneys than ever before. Lawyers are no longer required to keep doing things the way they’ve been done for years, even decades. They now have access to new tools that can help reshape their practices and drastically increase their efficiency and capability. By enabling attorneys to accomplish more faster, i.e. to do more with less, these new tools provide the path for small firms and solos to compete with their bigger competitors.
Document automation software is one of these tools that are now available to lawyers. By utilizing smart templates such as those provided by CaseRails instead of relying on outdated manual copy-and-paste or search-and-replace methods, lawyers can streamline the document assembly process and draft routine legal documents much faster and more accurately. Drafting a document that used to take an hour can now be done in 10 minutes, and drafting an entire set of documents that may have previously taken a full day or more can now be accomplished in a fraction of that time.
The enhanced efficiency and time saved through the use of document automation, and the incorporation of other new legal tech like practice management software, intuitive ediscovery platforms, and litigation management programs, provide attorneys with great benefits. By being able to do more, faster, with less, small firm lawyers and solos can cut costs and offer more flexible fee arrangements to enable them to compete even with firms with vastly greater resources. Soon, it will be the large firms that will need to adapt and modernize the way they do business to keep up (some have already started), just as large businesses in other industries are now racing to adapt to keep pace with the influx of startups that have reshaped their marketplaces.
Startups have thrived by embracing new ideas and new technology, to compete with bigger, more established competitors, despite facing an array of challenges. Small law firms and solo practitioners are now able to replicate that success through the adoption of new legal technology.