Build vs Buy: The Strategic Advantage of Buying Legal Tech

March 19, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of legal technology, firms are discovering that longstanding practices can be transformed for better results. As more firms are investing in developing technology stacks, they are faced with the decision of whether to build custom software solutions or select ready-made alternatives. 

The release of AI tools like GPT Builder and Microsoft’s Copilot Studio has enabled firms to build and customize AI for in-firm usage. But when it comes to solving specific business challenges, buying software offers a ready-to-go solution without sacrificing security, efficiency, or reliability. 

This article delves into the build versus buy conversation, exploring how the decision to buy can bolster innovation within law firms and drive lasting efficiency in an increasingly competitive market. 

Staying Ahead of the Curve: Big and Mid Law Need a Comprehensive AI Strategy

As legal services evolve, so does technology. Incorporating the latest legal tech into big and mid-law firms in a strategic way has had a growing importance in recent years.

A 2024 LexisNexis report states that “Forty-three percent (43%) of the 200 largest law firms (Am Law 200) have a dedicated budget for investing in Gen AI tools this year,” and that “as generative artificial intelligence develops and big firms try it out, industry observers say that mid-law firms are also experimenting with the technology and that it will likely prove useful for midsize, mid-market and regional firms as the tech matures”.

New capabilities such as secure cloud-based data storage, communication and file sharing, contract drafting tools, and time tracking/client billing are reducing tedious and redundant work in the legal field, allowing attorneys to spend their time on higher-value tasks and client matters. Firms that stick to manual processes will struggle to keep up with the benefits that legal technology provides, such as: 

  1. Increased efficiency within workflows
  2. Reduced risk of small errors that can have an outsized impact
  3. Assistance in firm or practice-wide collaboration

The benefits of legal technology not only positively impact daily work within firms, but they also allow greater satisfaction among a firm’s employees and long-standing clients.

A Tech Stack That Doesn’t Work for You, Works Against You

Adopting the right technology is crucial for firms of all sizes to stay ahead – and it’s not just about having the latest and greatest. Developing a successful tech stack requires that your tools are custom-suited to your attorney's needs, are highly usable, and integrate easily with your other platforms.

Firms need technology that can handle tedious tasks with timeliness and ease. The right technology enables firms to store, search, and sort through vast amounts of data at fast speeds to handle data-rich circumstances such as managing large deal volumes, managing documents, client information, XFT work within a practice group, and more. 

The development of GenAI and LLM technology has exacerbated the importance of choosing the right technology. Firms that are early adopters of AI technology are developing a competitive edge as they learn best practices and reduce time spent on less valuable work.  

Advantages of Buying Legal Technology Software

By choosing to buy, your firm can expect delivery on a specific use case and receive third-party support throughout the process. Technology vendors assist with adoption, training, and product maintenance – all costly elements to take on if a firm has decided to build. 

Here are some of the lasting advantages of buying legal software:

  • Cost-effectiveness compared to building internal solutions
  • Access to specialized expertise and cutting-edge technology
  • Time-saving benefits and faster implementation
  • Scalability and flexibility to adapt to evolving legal needs
  • Reduced risk and compliance concerns through established vendors

Additionally, buying technology rather than building it allows firms to outsource performance risk, uptime, and the scaling process.

Here are some of the risks that are mitigated when firms choose to buy rather than build software: 

  1. Costs of unsuccessful deployment or failure of adoption
  • While building gen AI technology allows firms to customize use cases, it can be costly to properly prioritize and build for those specific use cases, as well as undertake the process of educating end users and ramping up adoption. 
  1. Costs of finding & acquiring talent
  • To create and successfully implement AI solutions, law firms may need to find and hire highly skilled knowledge workers in data science, machine learning, and software development. Even a bare-bones team is estimated to cost upwards of $400,000 annually in technology development costs alone.

Buying legal technology gives your firm access to specialized expertise and faster implementation. Most importantly, your firm will be at the forefront of the latest technology. 

When Buying Works - How Orrick Improved Productivity, Knowledge Access, and Attorney Satisfaction

Orrick, a global law firm representing clients in over 25 markets, found that buying DraftWise’s Gen AI legal software allowed them to boost overall attorney efficiency, professional development, and job satisfaction.

DraftWise’s platform allows attorneys easier access to and management of the knowledge within their DMS, empowering Orrick attorneys with the tools they need to draft more complex filing of superior quality. You can read more about Orrick’s experience with DraftWise in the case study

To learn more about how your firm can implement DraftWise, schedule a demo on our website today. 

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