Litigators today must be prepared to collect, review and share an influx of electronically stored information (ESI) at the start of a case. Often, this data originates from many different places; emails, social media posts and online accounts are just a few of the ESI sources that provide relevant case data. The ubiquity of ESI makes e-discovery a central factor in cases of all sizes and types, not just class action and complex litigation.
Last week, The Telegraph reported that UK solicitors who handled real property transactions had been hit by a wave of fraudulent activity. Hackers took advantage of the fact that email is inherently unsecure and unencrypted and were able to intercept emails between real estate attorneys and their clients. The hackers then used that information to change bank deposit details in subsequent emails, thus steal closing funds.
Another day, another study concluding that law firms are in dire straits. The times they sure are are a-changin’. But for law firms, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In study after study, year after year, various authors decry the stubborn stagnancy of law firms, urging them to wake up and smell the coffee. And in response, the vast majority of law firms collectively yawn and dismissively check their watches. They’ve got more important places to be and listening to the same old refrain is not part of their plans for today, thank you very much.
With law firms increasingly relying on technology and end-user sophistication on the rise, the use of unsanctioned applications and services, an issue known as “shadow IT,” is an unwelcomed occurrence in the legal industry. While most employees aren’t maliciously bypassing safe computing policies – they simply are trying to work more effectively – their reliance on self-procured, often consumer-grade solutions can leave their firm’s (and their clients’), most sensitive data unprotected.
ABA Techshow has once again come and gone. After an activity-filled, whirlwind trip in Chicago last week, it’s time to sit back and reflect on what I learned.
Lawyers no longer sell knowledge, but skills. Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, Partner at Bureau Brandeis and panellist at Lexpo, therefore believes we need to change the way lawyers are trained: "All very nice, I know, the latest state of affairs in contract law, but hardly relevant. Lawyers need to get a lot more skills training. This need is only gradually being understood in the legal profession."
In 2009 a Japanese man married a computer. And that will happen again in other places around the world in the next twenty years from now, predicts Chrissie Lightfoot of EntrepreneurLawyer Limited. Lightfoot, a keynote speaker at the Lexpo - the legal innovation event - coming up on 21 April, thinks that lawyers need to prepare themselves better for this type of trend. 'We are currently in a period of transition. You need to stay on top of it today, or tomorrow you will have missed the boat.'
Of course, the outlook for Artificial Intelligence is just plain fascinating, naturally also for the legal sector. But Casey Flaherty, keynote speaker at the upcoming Lexpo innovation event on 21 April, prefers to start off with something a bit closer to home. ‘Technology is horribly important, but it isn't magic. Technology takes a major effort and a lot of time.'
No matter the line of practice or industry focus, all law firms are entrusted with highly sensitive client information. When it comes to protecting this extremely confidential data, many firms rely on technical solutions, such as: firewalls, antivirus software, perimeter defenses and multifactor authentication.
However, in an increasingly complex cloud-based and mobile world, the protection of valuable enterprise and client data can no longer be looked at as purely an IT security challenge, but instead should be approached as a broader information governance strategy. In other words, the fact that extremely valuable data now often resides outside of firm firewalls, means firms should not only be evolving their supporting technology, but also their internal information governance policies and procedures.
How to take NBI strategies to the next level by simplifying back-office processes
Law firms, like many other companies today, are constantly investigating ways to do more with less. Quality legal work is a must but reducing extraneous spend is almost always on executives’ minds. Many firms are already taking steps toward cost optimization by increasing efficiencies and better aligning their back office processes for greater profitability.
Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to Manhattan to attend and cover Legaltech New York. The conference was exactly what I had expected and I walked away with the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same” running through my mind—both in terms of the conference itself and in terms of the legal professions’ collective attitude toward technology.
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