What are the market trends that are reshaping the legal industry?
Within the legal industry today, every technologist and industry leader is talking about working with artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology. Most of the industry leaders are heavily investing in technological innovations and are working on a proof of concept (PoC) for determining their viability. Moreover, the bigger firms with a massive investment budget are leading this innovation game, owing to the enormous manpower and resources available. On the whole, AI and its related technologies and products will be the catalyst in driving the legal industry into the digital era.
How can organizations inject the latest trends into their operations?
Not too long ago, the real innovative and cutting-edge firms realized the importance of delivering efficiency rather than only generating profits. Even though a new technology may end up requiring additional time, it helps the legal companies to make their clients’ lives easier and pass on the rewards or the savings to them through low-priced service offerings. Since the legal sector is a client-driven industry, it is of paramount importance for organizations to ensure their clients’ contentment while implementing a technology. When it comes to AI, in particular, the technology is well positioned to drive not only cost efficiencies, but also innovation and efficiency for the clients.
What are some of the primary challenges present in the legal space?
The legal space is a very consensus-driven industry, involving decision-making across numerous committees. I often encounter people asking me, “What does a CIO at a law firm do”? My answer to it is—about 50 percent of the job involves finding the technology and security strategies, and the rest of it is about building and sustaining relationships with the business partners.
The partners are the owners of the firm, and the larger the firm, the more owners you have to build the relationship with. In the end, it boils down to connecting with the business and understanding how their lawyers work. As a CIO, one needs to understand what the lawyers are going through in the courtroom, or during an M&A purchase agreement, or a real-estate transaction and find alternatives to ultimately make their lives easier.
How can organizations ensure the right adoption of technology?
The first thing organizations must do is to connect with the partners of the firms who are technology-driven, and believe technology is the differentiator between a regular firm and an innovative firm. It’s extremely important to do that in order to stay abreast with the latest advancements. When a company starts testing products or developing a PoC, they must allow their business partners to witness the technology first hand.
One of the key takeaways for me is that IT teams that force the use of new technology are destined to fail. Before installing a new technology or product, the company must receive feedback from a small pilot of partners, senior associates, and staff members. We follow a similar model in K&L Gates. Currently, we have a small pilot group testing a couple of our product offerings, and if necessary, we can expand the team based on our requirements. So, prior to the procurement of a product from the outside world, one needs to connect with the business and understand the organization’s inner processes.
What is the importance of automation to improve the efficiency of the law firms?
Automation is extremely important to increase efficiency. It is not just about giving the lawyers a software to work on, but to help them improve the outcomes. Similar to our associates, we are expanding PoC-focused tools to our senior partners, helping the users create documents, identify errors, analyze clauses, and perform clause control and jurisdiction analysis.
Some of the players such as Kira Systems and ROSS are investing heavily into artificial intelligence as they too have realized that it’s not just about delivering a product anymore, it’s about delivering efficiency. In parallel, client organizations are looking for solutions that can make their processes easier and error-free. And without a doubt, it’s a win-win situation, when you can deliver that efficiency, pass on the savings, and build stronger relationships with the clients.
Your advice to budding technologists and industry leaders
Connect with the business partners, attend meetings with them, and know how they work and what they are asking for. At the end of the day, it all comes back to the lawyers, how they work, and what the clients are demanding. Every leader must know the business requirements and its working before letting the IT team make an uninformed decision.
What is the future of legal technology?
Attorneys currently are limited to document management systems, email, and the time and billing systems. Thanks to the technological disruption, many companies are coming into this space, trying to make life easier.
It would be interesting to see the Big 4 break into the legal market. In the next 12 to 18 months, we will be seeing tremendous innovation in the e-discovery and cybersecurity landscape as well.