The world is experiencing an explosion in tech start-ups that are jumping on the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution bandwagon to serve the hunger of established markets and new markets. You only have to follow the plethora of tweets on the subject of #Fintech and #LegalIT (aka #lawtech) to realise that certain sectors are enjoying exponential promise, opportunity and growth. The legal ecosystem is potentially one of these.
I am pleased to witness the current deployment of the potential, promise and peril of cognitive computing, AI and robots in the legal world. It’s been too long in arriving.
The results of the 2015 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey (“the Survey”) have confirmed what I’ve been saying all year about lawyers’ attitude toward technology in 2015: they’re frozen in their tracks by fear. In part this is because it seems that every week there’s news of some new, massive data breach.
The causes of the breaches are many and varied: hacked passwords, sophisticated attacks by foreign government agents, company employees stealing data, and security flaws in online programs. That many of the reasons for the breaches are something that are unlikely to happen or are inapplicable to most law firms is often irrelevant to lawyers; they hear news of the latest breach and automatically assume that all new technology is dangerous and should be avoided.
Litigation, negative publicity, shrinking client pipelines or extinction are all possibilities as cyber incidents continue to run rampant: time to pay attention to the fundamentals like your equipment and technology lifespan
Sustained corporate success and the ability to adapt to change have long gone hand-in-hand; the average life span of a corporation has been steadily decreasing for decades. Standard & Poor’s data shows that it was 61 years in 1958, 25 years in 1980, and just 18 years in 2011. In today’s business world, many more companies merge, are acquired, or go through some other form of transformation which feeds into the data—all which means business as a whole is more dynamic than it was 60 years ago as the pace of change accelerates.
Dear legal technology vendors,
It’s time for another chat. You may recall that right around this time last year I urged you to reconsider your PR efforts leading up to ILTA (aka ILTACON) — or any major legal technology conference, for that matter. This year, I’ve got a different message and it’s about trade show booth manners.
That’s right: manners. You know, that societal custom whereby you are polite and friendly towards others simply because that’s how you’re supposed to behave. And this is all the more true when you’re representing your company. After all, at a conference your booth is the face of your brand.
I think that it's fair to say that while the potential benefits of mobile productivity are significant and incessantly discussed, they are not broadly understood and remain elusive to the average law firm. To many firms, remote access is a separate entity from laptop access, which in turn is different from mobile access. Many firms fell behind in the big push for BYOD and have not yet recovered. In the rush for multi-platform, consumer connectivity, firms flocked to Microsoft's ActiveSync to enable email but that's it. Many firms have moved on from the original BlackBerry but not from the almost single purpose it served.
Earlier this month I had the good fortune to travel to San Francisco to speak at Legaltech West Coast on a panel at that was sponsored by the San Francisco Bar Association. The panel’s focus was wearable computing and the Internet of Things. It was called “Legal Implications of Wearables/Internet of Things (IoT)” and my co-panelists and I discussed this emerging era of computing and the legal implications of Apple Watch, Google Glass, and smart apparel, including how privacy, intellectual property, ethics, technology and the law intersect.
Many believed it to be the major news story at last year’s ILTA conference: Microsoft announcing a SharePoint-based document management solution for law firms and corporate legal departments: Microsoft Matter Center for Office 365.
The news raised some eyebrows in the industry. After all, Microsoft axed its legal vertical marketing team a couple of years earlier and let go of Norm Thomas, the “public face” of the team.
Okay, maybe neither category of lawyers is dying anytime soon. But a recent spate of articles and blog posts have posited that regardless of your firm’s size, drastic change is imminent and will affect lawyers across the board.
Now I know what you’re thinking—legal futurists have been predicting doomsday scenarios like this for years, so why all the fuss now? That’s a great question. According to two very interesting blog posts I recently read, this new conversation revolves around the effects of Uber and “New Law.”
Joanna Goodman reports on last week’s Thomson Reuters VANTAGE worldwide conference in Las Vegas
Although Thomson Reuters VANTAGE global user conference in Las Vegas was a massive event with record attendance of 1,100 delegates, as vice president of customer advocacy Patrick Hurley tweeted, it still felt like family. And there was a great atmosphere. As one of a small minority from outside the US, I was impressed by the sheer scale and glitz of the venue (the dazzling Bellagio hotel) and the serious work and attention to detail that clearly went into planning and organising this amazing event.
Do you know if your contractual obligations are being adhered to by suppliers? Are you absolutely certain that you have the most up to date contract saved in your system? Have all the email conversations regarding your contracts been accurately incorporated in the final version? In fact, do you have easy access to all your contracts? I’m not being facetious. Recently, I met the head of an in-house legal department at an organisation who mentioned that they were in the process of renegotiating many of their contracts because they simply couldn’t find the documents in question!
On June 4th of this year, Kathryn Rubino wrote an article on Above the Law, entitled "Which Biglaw Firm Has Blocked Personal Email?" In it she noted that law firms Mayer Brown, Latham & Watkins and WilmerHale joined King & Spalding in blocking personal email through the firms' internal network. I was a bit surprised by her post.
She quotes one of her tipsters, "[I]t's hard to imagine a more obvious way to alienate the prototypical millennial hire… We spend obscene money entertaining summer associates, then undo all that goodwill by subjecting them to internet content filters which my summer mentee said made her feel 'like a secretary or something.' Meaning, I suppose, a low-level white collar drone nobody respects." Ms Rubino would seem to think the answer is easy peasy. "Computer viruses are bad, but some basic online education should shore up that hole." Ahh if only it were that simple! I might argue that if "some basic online education" worked as well as Ms. Rubino would like, she would never have written this post in the first place.
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