Collaboration is crucial - A key takeaway from our latest SME law forum

LegalTech in Leeds







Our SME Law Forum event series, held in partnership with Bruntwood SciTech, brings together industry leaders and legal professionals to explore innovative tech solutions for the challenges faced by SME law firms.

On the 6th June we hosted our third SME Law Firm Forum, the themes of the evening centered on tech integration and adoption, service quality enhancement, and cybersecurity risks.

The welcome address from Chloe Thompson, Whitecap Consulting / LegalTech in Leeds and Bruntwood SciTech set the stage for an engaging discussion. The panel insights, led by Steve Edge, Nick Hawkins, Tarek Miah, and Max Jagger, were particularly enlightening, followed by an interactive discussion and Q&A session.

Key Discussion Points and Themes

Integration and use of technology in Legal Practices

Discussion around overcoming transcription and Copilot integration challenges in Teams prompted a debate around proper training and technology adoption challenges. Training on how to interact with these technologies was emphasised.  

Artificial Intelligence

Panelists discussed how AI can significantly boost efficiency, suggesting a shift from traditional hourly rates to value-based billing models. This change would better reflect the true value provided to clients, rather than merely the time spent on tasks.


The importance of cyber insurance and robust business continuity plans for SMEs was underscored, given the heightened risk of cybersecurity incidents. Regular cybersecurity governance training for employees was also deemed essential to mitigate these risks effectively.  

Productivity and time management

A key point was the need for the legal sector to move beyond hourly billing and to value tasks based on their impact and the value they provide to clients. This approach could drive greater productivity and client satisfaction.

Legal sector culture and collaboration

Encouraging collaboration among law firms, despite cultural differences, was seen as vital for enhancing efficiency and effectiveness. Sharing processes and best practices across firms can lead to improved outcomes for all.  

Client relations and billing practices

Flexible billing options, such as offering fixed fees or hourly rates for specific tasks, were discussed as ways to meet client needs and build stronger relationships.

Protection and risk management for SMEs

The forum stressed the need for SMEs to understand their risk exposure and to prioritise comprehensive insurance and risk management plans. This understanding is crucial for safeguarding their operations against potential threats.  

Training and skill development

The importance of trainees making their own notes for better learning was highlighted, and replacing processes with AI could harm the learning opportunities for trainees. Effective collaboration between legal professionals and technologists is also necessary to bridge the gap between legal and tech expertise.

Innovation and future of legal services

Panelists emphasised the need for legal firms to embrace technology and innovation to stay competitive and meet evolving client needs. The University of Law was praised for its efforts in promoting innovation and technology integration within legal education.

Key Recommendations

Embrace technology and innovation:

  • Legal firms should prioritise the integration of AI and collaborative tools like Teams to enhance efficiency and adopt value-based billing models that reflect the true value provided to clients.

Enhance cybersecurity measures:

  • SMEs must invest in comprehensive cyber insurance and business continuity plans, along with regular cybersecurity governance training for employees, to mitigate the high risk of cyber incidents.

Foster collaboration and shared Learning:

  • Law firms should break down cultural barriers to collaborate on common processes and share best practices, leveraging cross-sector learning to improve efficiency and client service.
  • Setting up an SME working group where stakeholders could openly discuss their challenges and have more productive conversations with tech vendors could be beneficial.  

Moving forward: Call for further research

To build on the insights gained from this event, more research is needed to address the challenges and opportunities identified. Opening communication channels is the first step, and we are launching an SME survey to gather valuable insights and feedback. This survey will inform future strategies and solutions, helping to drive forward the conversation on technology and innovation in SME law firms.