The Changing Lawyer Virtual Summit was a day-long event on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, and featured speakers from all over the legal industry and all parts of the world. The Summit’s speakers and panelists brought to life many of the insights from The Changing Lawyer, Litera’s annual overview of trends in legal technology, legal work, legal teams, and the business of law.
This is the first of a series of blog posts highlighting the conversations that made up the Summit.
We’ll begin at the end, with an overview of some of the key themes addressed during the day. A wrap-up session on the final day reviewed five key takeaways from the Summit:
Data is key to winning business and building strong relationships with clients
From the opening keynote by Seth Godin about using data to connect with customers, all the way to sessions on evaluating a firm’s tech stack; executing on diversity and inclusion strategies; and making the day-to-day business decisions that are part of running a firm – data is the lifeblood of a legal organization.
Particularly in relationship-building moments, that’s where data is critical. It’s important to use data to understand clients’ challenges and pain points, and equally important to use the tools available to understand what messages, channels, and delivery platforms really work for clients. Today’s marketing and customer relationship management tools provide a constant stream of data about what does and does not work for clients, and it’s critical that modern legal organizations leverage that data.
Identifying exactly how technology can help solve problems for lawyers will ensure strong take-up across the firm
Virtually every session in the Summit highlighted ways that technology can boost the quality of legal work, and improve productivity and profitability. Also acknowledged, however, was the fact that adoption does not always keep pace with the opportunities that technology presents.
But the pandemic has put the adoption challenge on a whole new footing. Every lawyer who has been forced to work from home has done so with a new appreciation for how technology can make new forms of work and collaboration possible, and eyes have been opened to entirely new ways of allocating and executing legal work in an organization.
Inherent competitiveness of many lawyers can be an impetus to adoption. Lawyers want to be at the top of their profession – so it is important to find champions among lawyers who want to be seen as a leader, and who can share their successes with others.
Law firms are putting diversity and inclusion at the heart of business decisions
A strong theme throughout the Summit was that teams with different backgrounds and perspectives make better decisions than other teams.
Legal organizations are meeting the challenge in all aspects of practice. This includes the obvious practices that increase diversity such as hiring and mentoring, but also going beyond those basics to spreading diverse types of work among a wide range of associates, so that everyone in a firm gets a broad base of experience with different types of matters and clients. Getting a diverse set of associates in the door is the first step, but the key to retention is to ensure that all associates feel they belong in the firm and have a chance to work on the projects that have the greatest meaning to them.
The courts have made significant technology advances and lawyers can use these to help provide clients with access to justice
The pandemic has accelerated the shift in justice system processes to digital platforms, including Zoom-based hearings, electronic filing systems, and the like.
But Summit speakers on the future of courtroom technology emphasized that this reform is not just about moving existing processes online, but about fundamentally changing how the justice system works – away from a lawyer-centric to a client-focused system. Some states are experimenting with speeding up that technological change with regulatory changes – allowing non-lawyer ownership of legal practices, for example.
Yet legal services gaps still exist. The commercial legal services industry that serves the business world is rushing headfirst into technology-enabled services for clients, but millions of people are still denied access to basic legal services. The Summit sessions reinforced the idea that real change is not just a matter of throwing technology at existing processes, but rather on rebuilding many types of services around the needs of those who the legal system is designed to serve and protect.
Lawyers are more open to new technology than ever; seize the moment
The pandemic has opened eyes to the ability of technology to enable them to work better and more efficiently, as they have relied on cloud-based tools and services. And it’s not just their work that has benefitted; many lawyers, like many other types of professionals, have used the past two years to reevaluate what they want out of their careers, and see that technology has enabled them to establish different routines and a different work life balance. Law firms, for their part, are seeing that technologies that smooth out legal workflows and frees them from routine, repetitive tasks, can actually be tools for attracting and retaining associates.
It’s a bit of a perfect storm. At the same time that the tragic and frustrating aspects of the pandemic have forced a lot of self-reflection on careers, technology has stepped up and made a difference in improving the quality of life in legal practice. Many of the stories told in the Changing Lawyer Summit reflect that increasing openness to technology in the profession.
View the video of this Changing Lawyer Summit session here.
To explore more of the industry insights in Litera’s The Changing Lawyer 2021 research, download the full report. Recordings of the Changing Lawyer Virtual Summit sessions are also available on our YouTube channel.
Posted in The Changing Lawyer