When to Invest in Online Research

The revolution in technology has impacted all businesses today, resulting in a push toward greater efficiency and a more mobile workforce. What this means for solicitors is that the way information is accessed has changed. This has had an impact on how research is conducted. Using online resources such as websites and databases, has now become one of the more common methods of finding the information you need. However, there are varying levels of credibility and ease of use.

Law firms and departments today are under growing pressure to increase productivity and efficiency because of these changes. They are taking on a larger variety of work, and competing with bigger practices. The need to stay compliant and up to date has always been challenging. With more legislation and cases to keep up on, it can be difficult to expand your business further and take on work where you haven't already built up access to materials.

Staffing considerations

There are also different staff requirements to consider in terms of the resources that you provide. Some staff expect a well-stocked library of hardcopy books, while other team members expect more online resources, which they may be familiar with from college, or from a previous firm.

For these reasons, the law firm of today needs to look at building a library of resources that are kept up to date and that provide a variety of material if they wish to grow and compete.

Keeping up to date

The growth of technology, has led to an increasingly competitive landscape, where answers are expected faster, and more knowledge sharing is required.

Some firms must consider the limitation of budgets as there is an increasing pressure to reduce costs and to increase efficiency. However, online law databases represent an excellent way to do this for many clients.

Online databases can include a full library of books, so for a practice manager hoping to increase their stock of books rapidly, this can be a great way to do so at a lower cost, since the information contained online can be accessed and shared across the department. Books which are referred to often, can also be purchased in hardcopy in order to provide for the needs and preferences of your team.

Since various online resources are already available to both legal professionals and their customers for free, there is a risk to the law firm and department, and also to the end customer, that the information obtained from these sources may be less credible or up to date than it could otherwise be. The ability to show your advice is superior still helps firms of today stand out and create value in the advice they are giving. For those managing learning material for in-house staff, what presents a return on investment for you will depend on your specific content requirements. If you are considering investing in books, you might want to evaluate your needs based on the volume of books and copies you might need.

Using flexible resources

If you are looking at databases, this will depend on the stage your business is at, and what kind of resources you have there already. For example, if you are a firm just starting out and you need to build your resources rapidly, investing in an online database can present a great way to do this. If you are a more established firm, you might already have several resources but these may be more complementary than competitive. Again, consider the needs of your team.

Look for technology that can scale up with your practice or department, so the more staff you take on the more users and areas of law you can add depending on your needs.

Think about how often you need to be kept up to date on what is happening in your area. Are there frequent developments and changes that your client will expect you to be knowledgeable about? What resources might your competitors be investing in that allow them access to this kind of changing knowledge?

Ultimately, having information at your fingertips through the use of a database gives you more time to interact with clients and drive your business forward, while having completed thorough research.

Databases are not for everyone. Some practices and departments may need a lower volume of material for their library and so the return on investment can be less. But if the intention is for your firm to grow, then you will need to provide resources for a workforce that expects more technology, and provide advice to customers who expect information faster, and deeper than what they themselves can find online.

Bloomsbury Professional Online provides a range of services, covering multiple areas of law. For more information or for a free trial, click here.

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