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What Integration Should, and Should Never, Be

There has been a lot of talk about integration in the legal tech world for many years. Lately, it has become a buzzword for legal service suppliers to describe a simple link between their product and the client’s existing software.

When integration is done well, the benefits are many and varied. But it has become clear that there is some confusion around what a proper integration looks like.

In my years as a legal IT director and visiting clients in my current role, it has become clear that integration is key to efficiency and profitability. So, let’s discuss how.

Lawyers Have Often Been “Burnt” by Promises of True Integration

Many clients we speak to had, in the past, signed up for services, under the guise that information would be sent into the third-party provider and pulled back through. Not the case. Many integrations offered are typically one-way solutions whereby you click a link or button, and details such as matter number and name are pulled through.

However, this is often as far as the integration API goes, leaving a gap where the information and disbursements should be sent back.

The primary issue of not having an API that communicates in a two-way format is the leakage of disbursements which ultimately leads to revenue loss and the possibility of information being missed or entered in error, making the integration more of a hindrance than a help.

It is clear that the concept of both systems talking to one another is vitally important and that integration should always involve two-way communication. Pushing and pulling information back and forth between various systems and your case management system centralizes your data, making an invaluable difference across the firm.

What Should Integration Look Like? What Should You Expect?

A well-executed integration should be invisible to its users while providing a myriad of benefits to staff across the board from solicitors and support staff to the accounts team. Lacing information between systems seamlessly, a top-quality integration will amalgamate information from multiple data suppliers to provide a single source of truth.

The sharing of this information between the two systems eliminates manual keying errors and maintains consistency across all platforms, from your matter through to your accounting ledger.

So, the next time a vendor mentions that their offering is integrated, ask these three questions:

  • Does it send line items back to the ledger and update the matter history?
  • Does it prevent leakage from written-off disbursements?
  • Does it actually do something for you—is the change in time/productivity measurable?

The key to successful integration is linking together the various activities and systems required during a matter and making the transition between these as seamless as possible. A wise man once said they believed that the future lies in integrated software. People don’t want to access multiple systems, rekeying logins, information, and manually entering disbursements. It is all well and good to have an integrated system but unless it is actually saving significant time, eliminating missed disbursements, and updating the matter history every time—what is the point?


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