Confusion is frequent and the acceleration of the virtualization of work, education, and consumption of recent times tends to be accentuated: many companies consider that engaging in a “digital transformation” project is equivalent to “implementing new technologies”. In reality, it is something much deeper: it includes a redefinition of strategies and processes, it must align innovation with the organization’s culture, and it generates an impact of change not only within the company but also in the community.
A historic New York-based law firm understood this difference and decided not only to adapt to the new times, but also to drive a profound modernization of its work model. Few activities are as closely related to the concept of “face-to-face” as justice. The processes are lengthy, require frequent visits to the courts and even include elements far removed from digital life, such as the presence of stenographers who take notes to record everything that is said.
Just as all their colleagues and competitors did, the members of this firm had lawyers who would go to court with their files, summon witnesses, take depositions and aim to get the case resolved. The 2020 confinements forced a change in these procedures. Access to justice is an inalienable human right and, in order for it to remain in force even in the face of the mobility restrictions that had been imposed, it was essential to digitize them. At first, the law firm adapted to the circumstances, verified how the legislation was advancing to support online declarations, tried different video-call tools, and, as the results were positive, continued to provide its services.
However, far from staying in its comfort zone, the organization took advantage of the context of dizzying changes that were taking place to move up to a new level in transformational terms: why restrict itself to “translating” judicial processes to the virtual world when it was possible to build a modernizing vision of the entire system? All employees were involved in the project, the organizational culture was redefined and clear objectives were set. Of course, agility began to play a key role: the changes to be proposed were profound, so it would be key to test quickly, get immediate feedback, and try again with improvements as needed.
Efficient models were designed so that any presentation could be done remotely: depositions, mediations, arbitrations and examinations under oath. And the experience was not limited to modernizing reporting, but also to developing a broader litigation platform driven by new technologies to gain efficiencies, make information transparent and reduce the costs of each case. Along the way, the company even decided to move forward on a rebranding, to accompany with a new name the enormous amount of changes that had taken place in its structure and service offering.
On the other hand, the law firm used to limit its clientele to the geographic area where it was located, whereas now, having the services supported by new technologies, they can serve clients all over the country, at any time and, as planned for the near future, in different languages: their market has expanded and today they literally provide their services without borders.
“We started this process as a law firm and now we are a company that provides technology services,” the client told us in a recent meeting. This is the spirit of true digital transformation.