Written by:

Grant Yuill

Head of Marketing & Customer Engagement

If law firm leaders don’t lead the transition process well, it’ll probably end up becoming a how-to-build-resistance 101 manual.

An important quality of change leadership for any lawyer is the capacity to anticipate, reduce, and manage resistance. As an emergent marketing manager, I was in charge of a well-known change project for a global business more than ten years ago. I started the process of change because I was eager to face resistance. I believed that resisting change was in everyone’s nature. I geared up in my shining armour for the fight.

Gladly, my perspective has altered after a decade of navigating complicated change. For me, resistance is no longer a war but wise leadership advice.

Let’s start by outlining some of the main triggers for resistance to changing legal technology:

  • Unable to grasp what’s going on
  • Uncertainty regarding the implications for the person, their impacts, etc..
  • Being afraid of the unknown but at ease with familiarity
  • Being satisfied with their present method of operation
  • Seeing multiple prior modifications with no positive outcome

It is a unique process that starts with the individual. People’s desire to embrace the change is essential for the change to succeed. People’s emotional and intellectual readiness for the transition is influenced by it. Without a doubt, if leaders in the legal industry oppose this shift, resistance will manifest itself.

Does resistance to change come naturally to people? I say this is a cliché, so my response is no, it is not in people’s nature. People will always object for various reasons. Although change can be scary, humans also value discovery and curiosity. We are naturally curious beings. Children are intensely curious beings who are ready to investigate and make sense of novel situations. A new location can be thrilling and interesting for people as long as they feel secure and comfortable.

To understand this complex system known as resistance to change, leaders should concentrate on the following three areas:

#1. In law firm innovation, identify resistance early and avoid it

Avoiding a conflict is the best way to prepare for it. Sensing the issue and attempting to neutralise it in advance, if possible, is preferable to trying to fix it later. Here are two ideas:

  • Execute change management properly: People frequently consider such issues as “What is happening, and what does this mean for me?” during times of transition. Early communication, key player involvement, and a well-thought-out plan are all vital for leaders to get buy-in. 
  • Pay attention to concerns at the beginning: It is probable that things will change. It has a past, a present, and perhaps a future. As people think back on a negative experience from the past, there may be some emotional low points. Effective change advocates who listen and act to calm people’s minds and emotions are needed to help them climb out of these troughs. If they were at ease, would co-workers, team members, or employees object?

#2. Instead of seeing resistance as a hindrance, embrace it

Here are some helpful hints for getting through and overcoming resistance:

  • Find the true cause: It’s possible that the resistance’s true nature is different from what it appears to be. When a youngster cries, we naturally try to figure out why. Do they feel uneasy, uncomfortable, hungry, or afraid? We ask them if they are old enough. When an employee drags their feet, they may feel as if the ground is giving way beneath them. People may resist change because they fear that they will have to give something up, possibly their pride, status, or identity. An effective change advocate will ask users for feedback, listen, acknowledge an anxiety, and act to give others confidence.
  • Talk about the problem and be sincere: A major marketing agency who was one of my clients was changing from a manual approach to an efficient technological solution for scheduling content. Emma led the team in charge of social media. She had not been ill for ten years, however she was stressed out when the modification was made. She was back at work when I first met her. She frowned as she looked through the new system. She said that she worked for years to build the current system. She feels like they no longer need her when using the technology eliminated this procedure.

This was a huge revelation. It wasn’t about the new system or the technology, but the fear of losing importance or self worth. The first step was to accept her grief, and after that, I worked with Emma to revive her 10 years of flame.

#3. Make social networks and interactions more comfortable

Times of hardship require a stronger emphasis on resilience and wellness. Change is a social occurrence, thus here are two ideas to promote resilience in social contexts:

  • Use informal connections and networks: Developing alliances and relationships at work requires the creation of informal networks and social opportunities. People feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, raising their concerns, and leaning in, inside these networks.
  • Engage skilled staff: Due of their closeness to the teams, middle managers usually play important roles in leading change. Engaging in middle managers’ transformation into motivating and encouraging is a great strategy to raise morale.

Instead of encouraging extreme changes, use techniques linked to gradual change. Making even a tiny improvement can be simpler than keeping things as they are. A child gradually develops their walking skills. They take a few slow steps, stumble, and then try again. A steady change programme is similar.

Above all, how people adapt to change is influenced by how well — or poorly — leaders handle it. Shiny armour is not necessary for succession planning; instead, they must be able to reveal a compelling route, inspire commitment, reignite people’s passion, and overcome obstacles.

Time to change

If you require support through the process of changing your legal practice management system, please reach out to us. We have years of experience supporting law firm leaders and their teams to create effective change. 

Start the change process here. Email info@denovobi.com. Or if you would prefer to talk to us you can call us on 0141 331 5290. 

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