To clear the air from the start, the legal industry is not always best known for its early adoption or widespread deployment of information technology. The sector prefers traditional processes and practices and relies on a lot of paper-based operations such as journals, books and handwritten letters. So, compared to some other sectors, the leap towards digitisation is even bigger.
In early June, I shared some thoughts about the challenges with the current IP prosecution process and how we need to move to the next level. A number of readers reached out to me and pointed out that I had articulated the business problems well, but they were left wanting more solutions.
That’s a fair criticism, and many of you who know me would expect me to say, ‘that depends.’
The friction-less IP prosecution process
Did you know that America’s IP is worth roughly $5.8 trillion dollars, more than the GDP of many countries? With that value comes a lot of risk associated with protecting these ideas and intellectual property. Dedicated IP firms and specialist IP practices within certain firms are increasingly looking to streamline processes and leverage technology to better manage and execute their clients patent and trademark applications, all of which involve working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Here are some more statistics …
iManage, a document and email management provider, hosted its user conference in Brooklyn, New York, from May 3-4. More than 750 attendees, including CIOs, IT directors, application managers, and developers, registered to attend 40-plus educational sessions and three keynote presentations and review 24 partner exhibits, all conducted in the New York Marriot at the Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s not surprising that the legal sector represents a goldmine for hackers; it is a vital component of UK business and government infrastructure. Law firms don’t just handle highly sensitive IP, business critical and financial data for clients but also personally identifiable information (PII), making them a highly attractive target.
The Legal industry has reached a crossroads. Changes in the economy, client demands and technology are driving some of this change and the ability for firms to adapt to these changes may determine their survival. Clients are demanding lower costs, efficiency, increased security along with greater accountability.
In my own experience, I have seen some of these changes occurring gradually among our customers. Having worked in law firms for 25 years, I can remember the days when very few lawyers actually had computers.
A new survey of nearly 1,300 Chief Legal Officers (CLOs) in 48 countries, conducted by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), found that data breaches and the protection of corporate data is the fastest-growing area of concern among CLOs. Thirty-six percent of CLOs rated this issue as “extremely important” in the year ahead, compared with just 19 percent as recently as 2014.
The business benefits of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are well proven across a range of industry sectors and these also apply to legal. Combining multiple silo'ed systems (for example, practice management, HR, time recording and so on) into one business platform with a single source of data delivers total firm management across client and matter management, billing, time recording, finance & accounting, business intelligence and talent management.
Despite the clear benefits of this approach, only a few of the largest law firms have taken the plunge to invest in this transformational technology.
The application of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) is triggered in response to a lawsuit, investigation or government action for prior workplace behaviour. This nine-step set of standards that guide the collection and organisation of electronically stored information is a reactive approach to risk management; it doesn't necessarily advance an organisation's ability to identify and reduce real financial, operational and reputational issues before they impact its bottom line.
For the better part of 25 years, I have worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes and in particular law firms on their technology and IT challenges. A majority of that time has been devoted to the world of DMS, in particular iManage WorkSite and most recently cloud based NetDocuments. My exposure spans DMS systems design, design of infrastructure, implementation, migration, integration and technical training. To read the first part of this article, click here.
It's now time to develop the initial design of what the new system should look and function like, which you then can take back to the steering group for feedback and input in a workshop-style forum.
A good lawyer helps you see around the bend. In my experience over the years as a client, I have found that each time my attorney points out something in a contract or business decision that I had not anticipated, I ignore the next bill when it comes in and I pay it gladly. When I feel that my attorney is simply a contract factory, I look at each bill closely and start to wonder if there is a better way.
I recently had this experience with my company's attorney and, as has become my custom, I did not pay any attention to the forthcoming invoice. I did, however, stop to think about how my company, as a legal technology provider, could facilitate more such interactions for our customers and their clients.
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