New technology challenges law firms to reimagine business models

Paul Gray, a principal lawyer at Harwood Andrews. Picture: supplied

AN onslaught of change mostly driven by technology is challenging law firms to reimagine the way they do business.

Future growth will depend in part on finding efficient and cost-effective ways of delivering quality legal services that meet the demands of a younger, tech savvy business community.

It is a challenge long-established law firms are trying to meet by embracing innovation and driving cultural change.

Meeting their clients’ need online, where they are working, is one of the keys.

Harwood Andrews principal Paul Gray said lawyers needed to ask customers to consume legal services a little differently and lawyers needed to deliver their service a little differently.

“If we can digitise the non-legal work and add the really high-quality legal work on top, that’s a quality and affordable service that people will be attracted to,” Mr Gray said.

After being a leader in digital strategy at Telstra where he was an in-house counsel until his left-field appointment to Harwood Andrews at the end of last year, he has a grip on disruptive technologies and their legal implications.

The experience has armed him with a rare set of skills to help drive innovation and to understand the needs of Geelong’s growing technology and start-up community.

Part of his role sees him working with business start-up sponsor Runway Geelong.

“That’s really good for us because it enables us to look at ourselves and how we deliver our service and be challenged,” Mr Gray said.

If Harwood Andrews can make itself accessible for start-ups, it is a precursor to being competitive in servicing up the chain to small or medium businesses, he said.

There were also opportunities in supporting businesses to understand their technology strategy and buying technology that met business needs.

“Technology is a driver of innovation, growth and change in every business,” Mr Gray said.

However, business managers might not be across the complexity of legal issues that some technological solutions might initiate.

“There is a gap between what they are buying and what they think they are buying,” he said.

Harwood Andrews needed to be accessible, at least to a break even cost, for start-ups as a precursor to being competitive in servicing up the chain to small or medium businesses, he said.