When I think about the best example of technology, it’s not the technology itself, but the attitude we as an organization have toward it. We split it up into a couple of categories. First and foremost is technology we use to operate as a firm and what we use to collaborate with and serve our clients. Secondly, we focus on innovation that we believe will disrupt and change the way we work or serve our clients. In the first instance, we focus on three legs of a stool for what I’ll call block and tackle technology, which are security, collaboration and mobility. Within each of those three categories are buckets of solutions that we focus on to keep the trains on the tracks, running on time so to speak. From the innovation perspective, we have a team of various leaders and representatives of the business that just focus on technology that may take a few years to develop or things that will have a material impact and change in the way we operate or service we provide for our clients. Examples of ideas we have kicked around are AI/Cognitive computing, Big Data, Block Chain/Distributed Ledgers, automated workflows and process improvements ala Lean/Six Sigma.
Security/Information Governance combined keep me up at night; I name them both because they are interrelated in some sense. In all aspects, security must be the umbrella covering and protecting everything we do from a technology perspective, as we are all engaged in a digital war with cyber criminals and nation states trying to compromise our systems; holding us hostage for ransom, stealing our intellectual capital or sensitive case and client information.
It’s increasingly important to keep up, to keep lock step with the major solution providers in the industry
It seems the criminals have tools more advanced than many organizations do and we are in a never-ending cycle of trying to keep up. Something disruptive needs to happen to change the game permanently that will allow us to securely govern our digital assets, regardless of where they may exist on a server, in a cloud or in the hands of a criminal; data should be worthless without authentic un-comprisable credentials.
Block Chain Leading the Way
The most significant trend which will impact the Legal Industry is the adoption of Block Chain/Distributed Ledgers. Many of our clients are working on or already have implemented some form of solution incorporating it. Although it is still being secretly vetted in organizations, there is enough validation at this point accepting it as a viable solution. Standards will be necessary for its success on a global scale, however, once in place there are many applications that it will lend itself to: contracts, real estate closings, financial transactions, authenticity and even perhaps security, which may provide the solution to the problem I discussed above regarding securing data. In addition to the technology impact, there will be regulatory issues and a whole host of legal issues that help buoy our industry with more work. As in many technology improvements, jobs will certainly be affected and lost in many industries, but many new jobs will be created to fill the vacuum.
Need for Interoperability
It’s increasingly important to keep up, to keep lock step with the major solution providers in the industry like Microsoft, iManage, NetDocuments, LexisOne, Aderant, Elite, IntApp etc. We rely on the interoperability of all these platforms and are sometimes held hostage and forced to delay new technology adoption because of interoperability issues.
It’s extremely important to understand the business, to understand your clients and to leverage technology to successfully and easily support the business and client. There should always be an inward facing focus on what we need to do to produce our work product and easily collaborate while doing that regardless of location and device. There also needs to be an outwardly facing focus on your clients and what their needs are and spending time listening to them, hearing them and providing those solutions, even if it means it will reduce your revenue from them.