Tech survey highlights divide between “haves” and “have-nots”

A survey has found that over half of respondent conveyancing firms are falling behind when it comes to the adoption of legal technology. 

The Digital Conveyancing Maturity Index, an “industry-first assessment of the digital capabilities of law firms” say authors InfoTrack, looked at how conveyancing firms are adopting the raft of technology tools available to the industry including;

  • New Business Client
  • Onboarding
  • Pre-completion
  • Postcompletion
  • eSignatures
  • CMS Integrations
  • Digital Audit Trails

An associated scoring methodology enables firms to be scored and benchmarked against conveyancers up and down the country.

The results, which revealed an average digital maturity score of 43%, highlights “the continued need for awareness around digital solutions that can significantly benefit conveyancers” according to InfoTrack.

Small to medium sized firms dominated the highest 10% of Digital Maturity Scores, with just over half of highest performers (49%) only have one office, with the authors suggesting that “smaller might be faster and more agile, perhaps making them able to adopt and implement technology more easily.” The other important factor specialisation, where 23% of the top performers were firms for whom 75% or more of their work is conveyancing. For firms who scored highly, integrating their case management system with other digital services was the biggest differentiator.

Across the conveyancing process the results showed that post completion (58%) Integrations (54%) and eSignatures (54%) were the most digitally mature. eSignatures are highlighted as a good example of the digital divide: 22% of firms surveyed don’t accept eSignatures while 16% are using them to sign Land Reg deeds and 11% for Mortgage Deeds. Onboarding (43%), Pre-Completions (30%) and New Business (33%) are at the lower end of the spectrum.

By their own admission, there are elements of the conveyancing process which are difficult to digitise, or a critical mass of adoption is required in order to achieve wider efficiency. Pre-completion featured strongly in this camp with

“a reliance on email for sending contract packs and managing enquiries with documents attached manually. The low uptake of platforms that enable better collaboration between conveyancers is no doubt hampered by the ‘chicken and egg’ problem of not enough people using them.”

The full report also discusses the benefits of firms building their own technology vs adopting third party technology.

Over 200 firms took part in the survey which had the support of Today’s Conveyancer, The Law Society, CQS, CLC, SLC, LawNet, The Conveyancing Association, and Bold Legal Group.

“The overall industry average score suggests a lot of firms are still in the early stages of their digital conveyancing journey. However, we did see some exceptionally high results. The biggest concern here is some firms’ speed of adoption of technology in the pre-completion stage. It’s the bulk of the conveyancing work and the area that’s the least digitally mature.”

comments Sam Jordan, InfoTrack COO.

The Index was released during the Digital Conveyancing Summit, hosted live at The Law Society on Wednesday 28th September. The Summit brought speakers from around the industry together to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by technology when dealing with risk and compliance, digital journeys, collaboration and people.

In one of the sessions, professional indemnity insurers identified the opportunity technology presents are actively looking at evidence of adoption and risk mitigation in conveyancing firms.

While the debate about collaboration rages, the consensus from the day was that alongside the technology, there was a need for people to take the lead in adopting innovation, with a focus on what can be done right now, and within existing constraints, to improve collaboration.

And when it comes to people there is increasing evidence that technology plays a part in staff retention and attraction; but that firms needed to invest in their teams’ understanding of the power of technology and ability to use it, in order to achieve the efficiency gains on offer.

A copy of the full report is available for download. The study remains ongoing and law firms can access a complementary assessment and personalised report here.

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