Does Your Legal Software Optimize for the Short Term?

Ample data shows that good design improves outcomes for both users and software providers. Because technology in legal lags behind other industries, the big push has been to pick vendors who consider not just function, but also user experience. But a recent Harvard Business Review article is a good reminder that the presence of design thinking is not enough.

In Why User Experience Always Has to Come First, Michael Schrage describes the increasingly-common practice of vendors focusing user experience on maximizing short-term gains. “Profitability predicated on customer friction, intrusion, and irritation simply isn’t sustainable,” he says, though it may be lucrative in the immediate term.

Entwining real-time data and predictive analytics lets organizations quickly calculate and calibrate trade-offs between experiential and exploitive UXs…Analytics basically force organizations to reveal how much they value their customer relationships as relationships, as opposed to as a series of transactions aggregated over time. The former perspective inspires and incents a different investment in UX than the latter.

User Experience Planning

One familiar example of this is interstitial or overlay ads that fill your whole screen when you go to read an article. Yes, that publication gets revenue from the advertiser, but it could lose you – and all future revenue from your readership – in the process.

In legal, the most obvious example of this is software optimized for case leads. Of course, the lawyer heading a case or the one picking the software needs to have a good experience. But, if this comes at the expense of the experience of everyday users, like document reviewers or billing coordinators, then it will not deliver the efficiency gains for which it was adopted.

Unfortunately, it is easy to focus on the sales and marketing experience rather than the ultimate user experience. This reduces friction for select tasks and users, but not for others. Reducing work for case leads while creating work for everyone else is not a win.

One example of this is case-wide settings. If your ediscovery software has a button that turns on two-factor authentication or production mode for an entire case, that adds a quick task for a case admin. But, it reduces overall friction and improves efficiency, since each individual reviewer no longer has to do it. And it improves security compliance, an added bonus.

Case-Wide User Settings

Of course, no single experience is right for all users or all software. The best tools try to adapt to different use cases, to find the most effective and easy-to-use solution.

So, when you evaluate legal technology, dig deeper on user experience. Consider inviting someone who’ll use the tool daily to attend the demo. You don’t just need UX optimization in your legal software; you need the right UX optimization.

We’re a bit fanatical on this. One of our five company values is respect for users, which says, “The success of the company depends on our users — even the ones that don’t pay the bills.” In order to use technology to improve efficiency and case outcomes, you need every user to have a good experience.

Make sure your legal software doesn’t subscribe to the motto that, “all users are equal, but some users are more equal than others.”