The legal industry has traditionally been somewhat resistant to change, particularly when it comes to adopting new technology. This resistance is no different for immigration law firms, especially solo attorneys and smaller firms.
Solo immigration lawyers and small immigration law firms most often build their businesses by prioritizing personal relationships, delivering white-glove support, maintaining rapid response times, and offering exceptional service to their clients. Their dedication to excellence, however, often means that over time they have established set processes and tools that have worked. And as the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
Indeed, even law firms equipped with ambitious, tech-savvy team members who eagerly seek out new tools and process enhancements encounter resistance to change.
Given these basic tendencies, when seeking to promote long-lasting and meaningful innovation, it's helpful to understand where this resistance comes from so that we can effectively deal with it.
In this article, we dive into some of the more common factors that might make immigration lawyers hesitant to embrace new technology.
Incorporating new technologies is a journey that takes time and thoughtful consideration, and it's absolutely normal to have some concerns about these changes. Here are five common reasons why immigration law firms, especially solo immigration lawyers and small firms, may be hesitant to explore new immigration technology.
"Why make changes to something that's already functioning well?" This sentiment is otherwise known as, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” While this perspective might raise eyebrows at tech startups where ongoing evolution is core to their business, for small businesses, including immigration law firms, it often makes sense to adhere to a time-tested process that has demonstrated its effectiveness.
As Fast Company put it, “In physics, inertia refers to an object’s tendency to remain on its path unless acted upon by other forces. In business, it means pretty much the same thing—and rarely do businesses benefit from being forced off course… but inertia is one of the most formidable barriers to innovation.” And for immigration law firms, innovating even something as seemingly small as an intake questionnaire for a new client or document-sharing through a portal rather than via email can lead to happier clients and more business.
Solo and small immigration firms place a strong emphasis on fostering client relationships, which may lead them to approach the implementation of new tools that might disrupt the flow of that relationship with caution. The firms’ apprehension could include concern about the possibility of client frustration and resistance to adopting a new tool or process, the client not understanding a new tool or process, or a general apprehension of asking a client to do something new.
This fear may be warranted when a client is known to be difficult to manage, has a short fuse, or may be a bit of a luddite. But more often than not, the fear is unwarranted, and most clients will be happy to use a new tool or adopt a new process, especially if the goal is to make things better!
Small law firms often have limited budgets, so unless they prioritize investing in new technology, the fear of a negative return on new tech investment can be high. But while legal software might have upfront costs in terms of installation, data transfer, etc., it can bring long-term benefits, including:
Now, let's discuss the matter of getting your staff on board with the changes.
Smaller immigration firms, even those with just a few staff members who work closely together, might see introducing a new tool as unnecessary or possibly disruptive to their existing flow, especially if the firm happens to be an environment where everyone is already overworked without “extra” time to allocate to learning and implementing a new tool.
One of the best ways to overcome this issue is to follow change management techniques, such as the ADKAR model, which make it easier for law firm managers to systematically and successfully implement change, especially tech changes, amongst staff. This includes things like making team members feel included in the change process, understanding their desire to see the change, educating them on the new tool and how it works ahead of time so they don’t feel taken by surprise, providing ongoing education and, of course, taking their feedback, especially when stressed or discontented. Ultimately, staff buy-in is crucial for any size immigration law firm, but especially a smaller firm, to successfully implement new technology, so investing in making this transition successful is key.
Ultimately, resisting new technology may just come down to a basic fear of change. This can be especially overwhelming for solo practitioners and small law firms who don’t have a large team to lean on during the transition period. And because change requires some investment of time and attention, and resources that are already dedicated to the existing workload, it’s easy to continue to put it off.
Of course if you’re reading this blog post, you’re likely thinking about a tech change at your immigration law firm, so don’t let fear of change hold you back. You can try pulling the band-aid off quickly and simply diving head-first into a new tech implementation. You can also try a slower, more measured change, if that works better for you or if you have staff working with you. But don’t let that stop you, especially if you want your firm to continue to grow!
So, what’s holding you back from adopting new immigration technology?
Integrating technology into your practice might appear daunting, especially when it necessitates altering familiar routines and processes. However, embracing the opportunity to adopt new technology can bring significant long-term benefits. When your firm actively embraces the intersection of law and technology, you can boost efficiency, profitability, and overall productivity to levels previously unattainable.
Docketwise assists immigration law firms, including solo and small firms, with concerns around adopting new technology. With our wide range of integrations, Docketwise enables a seamless connection with existing tools, eliminating the need to consider abandoning established processes and critical tools, especially those integral to client interactions, such as billing.
Docketwise also provides every account, irrespective of the firm's size, with a dedicated client success manager, live chat support, a comprehensive library of support articles, and unlimited onboarding sessions. In fact, these onboarding sessions have historically played a crucial role in making the transition to Docketwise smooth by helping train staff and answer any questions.
Docketwise also frequently offers discounts, including discounts on the fee for data transfer from current case management systems to Docketwise, discounts on annual licenses, and other incentives.
At the end of the day, Docketwise was created to help immigration law firms modernize and streamline. It’s in our blood. So, if you’re new to Docketwise and would like to try and see if it’s a good fit for your firm, schedule a demo on our website today.
And check-out the official Docketwise podcast, "Immigration Uncovered," and don't forget to subscribe to "Immigration Insights," a quick five-minute newsletter that keeps thousands of immigration lawyers informed and up-to-date!