To Tender or Not To Tender?

22nd March 2024

By Caroline Robinson, Commercial Real Estate Development Manager at Search Acumen

The legal market is tougher than ever, with firms competing fiercely for a shrinking pool of cases. Our recent research shows property lawyers are seeing a 25% decrease in caseloads as firms adjust to a changing real estate market, with the top 500 firms now handling three in five property transactions. The latest HMRC data shows UK non-residential transactions in January 2024 were down 17% compared to December 2023, further pointing to a more competitive landscape for property lawyers.

In this competitive climate, lawyers must think innovatively to stay ahead of the curve and stand out to clients. Levering technology solutions is a game-changer. When used from the beginning of the property transaction process, potential issues can be flagged upfront, mitigating the need for excessive queries down the line. In a recent study by Lexis Nexis, 95% of firms found that implementing technology had made them more responsive to client needs. Ultimately, embracing legal technology from the outset is a win-win scenario and ensures that the property purchase process is efficient, cost-effective, and stress-free for everyone involved.

Jo Unwin, Operations Manager at SAS Daniels, has overseen the firm’s adoption of technology over the last 17 years. They make use of Search Acumen’s full suite of digital tools for property transactions.

Jo said, “The integrated suite of Search Acumen tools have fundamentally improved efficiency and streamlined workflows at SAS Daniels. By using the full suite of tools, which fit together like a “jigsaw puzzle,” we have realised much greater benefits compared to using individual applications in isolation. The tools reduce duplicative data entry and manual effort by automatically feeding data into the system. This saves considerable time while also improving accuracy and compliance. Lawyers no longer have to double-handle information but can instead use the one-stop-shop of tools to streamline processes. More specifically, the automated reports take pressure off lawyers, while still ensuring compliance, giving us peace of mind.”

Gone are the days when success was solely determined by business perception and pricing strategies. Now, firms must strategically select third-party partners to enhance their operational efficiency and effectiveness. Having the right technology partners can be the difference between stagnating and thriving.

The typical retendering window of 2-5 years may seem like an eternity in today’s rapidly evolving world. Looking back at the seismic changes of the past few years alone underscores why firms cannot be complacent with legacy systems and processes. In recent years, the rapid advancement in what technology can deliver for businesses’ bottom lines, such as the use of tools like AI to drive efficiencies is no longer a nice-to-have, but crucial in the race against obsolescence. Staying ahead of the competition is crucial to every firm and being the most efficient help to clients is most critical at a time of market crunch. As much as we try to anticipate client needs, we can’t always predict how requirements may change from one month to the next. Retendering ensures your technology stack aligns with the changing tides.

Jo Unwin explains how digital tools provide SAS Daniels with a competitive edge, “We hugely appreciate the speed and ease of our onboarding and digital document processes that Search Acumen’s tools provide. There is no duplication of data entry, removing the propensity for errors and freeing up our time to focus on tasks that make use of our skills as lawyers. This provides clients with a better service, giving us an edge over our competitors.”

We have taken an ‘all in’ approach at SAS Daniels, jumping in with both feet into the digitalisation world, exploring new tools, seeing how they work and then moving on to the next – a trial and adapt model. This has helped us accelerate our use of technology and stay ahead of the field, giving us a slight margin over our competitors who are yet to welcome digitalisation, and Search Acumen’s tools, into their arsenal. “

Conducting consistent supplier reviews through a transparent tender process creates a fair competitive landscape. It allows informed decision-making to select the optimal partners driving innovation, adding value, and furnishing cutting-edge solutions. With the legal tech revolution happening at breakneck speed, the choice of tech partner alone should be under regular review to remain ahead of the curve. It is important that the partner chosen can keep you abreast of the latest developments and ways to make an impact with clients, delivering a more streamlined and efficient service.

Jo Unwin touches on the difference a valuable tech partner can make: “Search Acumen keep us ahead of the game with new technologies and digital processes that will only improve our delivery for clients and simplify our interaction with data. The impact of a good technology partner is so significant that we don’t need to spend time prospecting in the market for incoming innovation, instead relying on Search Acumen to share with us the changes that we will be seeing in the industry. “

AI’s widespread impact on the legal industry is inevitable and already reverberating. While it cannot replace the crucial roles lawyers play in risk assessment, negotiation and human judgment, AI can relieve the cumbersome, laborious tasks ripe for automation. Just as we use Excel for numberwork, AI’s autonomous capabilities to enhance productivity and accuracy give clients the elevated experience they expect while freeing staff for higher-value work.

Forward-thinking firms are embracing rather than fearing this shift, using AI as an essential tool for maximising efficiency and maintaining a competitive posture. But the path forward requires carefully vetting of the right AI partner through the tender process – an essential step in a firm’s evolution toward a tech-driven, future-proof operating model.

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