Choose the Right Legal Research Software for Your Law Firm
The legal sector continues to go through the most aggressive digital transformation in recent memory. The demand for digital services is disrupting traditional law firms, and change can't come quickly enough. Digital transformation is no longer a choice. If law firms don't find technological and automated solutions soon, competitors will render them outdated.
On the opposing side of the urgent need is an unfavorable buying process. CIOs are under tremendous pressure to make snap decisions, and suppliers hold an advantage given the lack of software familiarity in firms. Also, an objectionable bias exists on market comparison sites. The unfortunate result is poor software choices, disastrous implementations, ongoing compounding problems, and even a loss of jobs for those responsible for procuring failed tech.
The turbulence in the industry means that mistakes come with a heavy price, and competitive advantages are lost in an increasingly impatient market. Olive provides a solution that means you don't have to sacrifice due diligence for a quick result and you are not just shown solutions that pay to influence you. You get technology products that fit your practice!
Choosing the Right Legal Research Software
Olive appreciates that the process is a nightmare, and law firms are in a vulnerable buying position. Equally, it is understood that legal research is morphing with pioneering AI solutions varying wildly on price, automation, and even how up-to-date the analysis provided is.
As the ABA continues to approve new legal research software, companies like WestLaw, LexisNexis, ROSS Intelligence, and Casemaker give competitors a boost everyday. The need for firms to catch is ever more pressing.
Nevertheless, the process for making the right decisions is crucial. Follow our six steps to choosing the right legal research software for your firm, and you won't go wrong.
List Your Specific Needs and Goals
The legal research tools of today are utterly astonishing, from those capable of interpreting non-legalese searches to those that issue real-time alerts for emerging case law.
However, what matters most is what you need from your research tool. Fancy features are impressive, but they don't always augment your firm's ability. Analyze your process to understand what you need. Furthermore, involve your team in the decisions.
Getting the buy-in of your team is essential further down the line when it comes to implementation. No matter who the attorney, they need to be heard and served by your software to be worth it.
Top questions to ask when selecting legal software:
- What is your current research process?
- What exact abilities will your software need?
- Will you need access to statewide or federal case law?
- Are your lawyers fluent in the legal terminology, or is a modified tool necessary?
- Is software that only covers US Code, Constitution, and Statute enough, or will you need case notes and even strategies?
Rank Your Requirements
If needed, map out your typical case strategy preparation path and any additional requirements you encounter. List every avenue the firm uses for the research process and how often you use them because step 2 is to rank your requirements.
Which research methods, tools, and avenues are most critical to your cases? Again, engage the whole team and anyone who will rely on this software to make decisions. You need a "best-fit for all solution," not a "fits some and not others." Rank your list in order of priority and highlight the non-negotiables.
Survey the Market Options
Armed with criteria you need to satisfy, you are in a much stronger position to find options.
In this step, cast your line as far as you can to find as many likely suitors as possible and set aside the vendors that don't serve your purpose. Add them to the list of potentials even if they are new to the market and don't go too in-depth. Undoubtedly your search will include Google but look further afield to Gartner, Forrester and even ask other firms.
In your search, we do advise caution. You will come across a host of market comparison sites like G2, Lawyerist, Clio, Capterra, etc., that show you many different vendors. They will likely even have reviews to suggest credibility. The problem is that these sites are pay to play, so each vendor pays a premium to feature on the list and even more to feature higher up. This means that the solutions visible to you are partners of the site rather than those that exclusively serve your needs best.
Vendor bias is a problem for law firms because you see what you believe to be the results of a market-wide search ranked on merit, but that isn't the case. The best solution for you might not even be on the list because they haven't signed up to this site. It is a bit like having to choose medicine from the health food store without knowing pharmacies exist. You need the pill, not the vitamin.
Create a Shortlist
By now, you should have a strong list of contenders. The next stage of the process is to trim the list to no more than five. To do so:
- Assess your list against your original criteria.
- Unless they serve your purpose, discard them.
- Be ruthless.
You can't come back to your team with options that don't reflect what they want. Similarly, make sure the options are compatible with other software you use. Having a range of disconnected technology options is messy and leads to mistakes in the long term.
We understand that budgets will feature as part of the decision, but we suggest holding off until at least step 4 in creating one. We advise this because doing so right from the beginning can cut off solutions that offer a far greater ROI than the cheaper alternatives. In step 4 or 5, it is more appropriate now that you know what is out there and what they can do for your firm.
Evaluate Legal Research Software Vendor
When you have shaved your list down to 5 or fewer solutions, it is easier to be thorough in your due diligence.
Find reviews of your options and assess everything against your priorities. Request a demo from each provider on your list.
Bear in mind that vendors do not constantly get subjected to a rigorous selection process, so find out if they can answer the hard questions. Bring a colleague with you to make sure you both learn all that you need. Some things to consider:
- Did this satisfy my top priorities?
- Will it be compatible with the technology solutions I already have?
- Is this remotely accessible by numerous users?
- Are there add ons or innovations being built for this option?
- What are the ancillary benefits this research tool serves?
- Is this state-specific? Are there any federal limitations or clauses to worry about?
- Did the vendor show me features or answer my priorities and questions?
- If we have issues, who provides the solutions?
- Will this make my team better lawyers?
Make a Choice Based on Your Needs
It is easy to get dazzled by features and add-ons, but your responsibility is to improve your team. When making the final decision, get the input of your leadership and stakeholders. Ask them what they liked and why. Decide together on what research software will bring your firm forward.
The Legal Research Software Selection Process
We have had clients endure torrid experiences trying to find software—two-year waits, failed implementations, CIO job losses, and worse. Regardless of the nightmares and decision fatigue, the process is essential. Your firm improves massively when you find a legal research software that works, so stick in there and try to stay patient.
If time isn't on your side or you need to get up to speed faster, reach out to Olive. Olive collaborates with you on what your needs are and finds unbiased solutions for you. We don't accept any payment from any vendors, so the only thing that influences the results you get is your priorities. Filter out the distractions and novelties and get the software that suits you.
Olive helps law firms reduce financial risks and time wastage by listening to, informing, and empowering them to make better decisions faster. Olive doesn't sell what we think you should want; we find what you need.