What about the client? Leveraging legal tech to deliver concrete value
Bob Ambrogi leads an expert panel to discuss some of the key findings from The Changing Lawyer 2021 report: the boom in legal technology adoption; how lawyers are now working more efficiently than ever before; how savvy firms are gaining a competitive edge; and how lawyers can deliver new client value. Read transcript
Bob J. Ambrogi
Lawyer and Legal Journalist
Bob Ambrogi is a lawyer and journalist. He has been commenting on legal technology for over two decades. Follow him on LawSites, Above the Law, LawNext, and Legaltech Week.
Sherry Kappel has over 30 years’ experience in the design, development and change management of content creation technologies. She has written and spoken widely to address the needs, goals and strategies of document-intensive businesses and is an expert in Microsoft Office/365 applications. She was recognized by ILTA as Innovative Thought Leader in in 2017 and Innovative Consultant of the Year in 2014.
National Director of Knowledge and Practice Innovation, Bennett Jones
Kate Simpson leads a team of KM and Information specialists at Bennett Jones LLP to deliver practice tools and resources that leverage the firm’s intellectual capital.
Director of Practice Management, Honigman
Esther Bowers focusses on innovation and connecting the practices at Honigman with operational functions to develop programs and solutions that enhance the delivery of services and value to clients.
Welcome to Legal Tech Matters, a Litera podcast dedicated to creating conversations about trends, technology and innovation for modern law firms and companies big and small. Welcome everybody to today’s webinar. What about the client leveraging legal tech to deliver concrete value?
My name is Bob Ambrogi and I’m going to be the moderator for today’s program. I am a writer on technology for Above the Law, which is one of the sponsors of today’s program, along with Litera. And I also have my own blog called LawSites, which you can check out if you’d like to.
This webinar is timed to coincide with the Litera’s publication of its most recent edition of its publication, called The Changing Lawyer, which focuses on how technology is transforming the business of law and also timed to coincide with two related events. There’s the Upcoming Changing Lawyer Virtual Summit, which will be held on November 10th at the end of the program, we’ll give you some information on how you can find out more about that and also terrorist’s annual The Changing Lawyer Awards, in which honor innovation by law firms and lawyers and companies in legal tech, and which will be presented during that summit.
And so all of that together kind of creates a framework for thinking about how law firms can leverage legal tech to deliver concrete value to their clients. And that’s the topic I’m going to be talking today with our panelists.
So let’s get to introducing our panelists and just so that you can all put a name with a face, I’m going to go around and let each of them tell you a little bit about who they are and what they do.
So, Esther Bowers, let me begin with you, if I may. Thank you, Bob. I’m so glad to be here with with you guys today. I’m Esther Bowers, Director, Practice Management and Hanuman, and I focus on the legal operations side of the firm. So making the connections between tech, staffing, pricing and all of that towards focusing on the delivery model, client service delivery model.
Thanks, Esther. Kate Simpson next to you.
Hello. Nice to be here. I’m Kate Simpson. I am the national director of Knowledge and practice innovation at Bennett Jones.
We’re based here in Canada, where it’s not yet chilly, which is lovely. I focus my world on complex content, so the knowledge and the content lifecycle at a large firm. But I’m also responsible for our practice, innovation, tools and techniques and processes, etc. We have a lot of fun.
The chill will come soon enough to be as joyous and last, but by no means least sharing capital.
Thank you. My name is Sherry Kappel. I am an evangelist here at Litera. I have worked in all phases of this company weather service delivery to clients, innovating products, innovating services. I’m eager to have this conversation with all of you today.
Thank you. I love the title evangelist. I want to be an evangelist when I grow up. Sherry, you know, I was just referencing the idea that this is all what we’re doing here today.
All kind of that coincides with these series of changing lawyer events and publications that the terrorists putting out. So maybe just kind of help us set the stage for today’s conversation. Why don’t you kind of explain what that’s all about and what you’re doing there?
A number of years ago by the in fact, this is the fourth year we’ve published the publication a number of years ago. We basically determined that honestly, it was the conversation about what exactly the lawyers need right now and why and what are people doing and bringing that conversation together in some one vehicle to kind of explain it. And what’s been interesting about it and wonderful about it is that we’ve done this year, over year, over year. So the trends, it’s interesting to see which ones sort of pop up and emerge as critical. And that’s kind of what we’re going to talk about today is what are the top five key takeaways of the research we did for the year 2021 and end? The awards were added a year or two in, and that’s been such a great way to make visible the good works that people are doing across firms and across basically the the vendors, even the suppliers who are helping the firms achieve true innovation.
And so that’s the changing layer. It sounds good. The awards have actually been interesting. I will say I’ve been a judge for a couple of times on the awards, but they really have put a spotlight on some of the initiatives that law firms that you might not otherwise hear about.
I think that’s that’s what I found really interesting about them. I know, you know, you say you’ve been doing this for four years, four years seems like an awful long time ago right now in light of everything that’s happened over the last couple of years, especially in the world of legal technology.
And so I might jump around a little bit in terms of the order of things we were we were going to talk about a little bit because I, you know, we want to talk about some of the ways that law firms can, can leverage and use technology to deliver a better client value to better serve their clients. But it seems that one of the prerequisites to doing that is to get law firms to adopt technology in the first place. And one of the topics that this report talks about is is that some of the challenges law firms face in doing that in adopting technology and deploying new technologies.
And so I wonder if I can ask us to talk a little bit about just kind of some of the challenges that firms face in adopting technology and in getting specifically, you know, their legal professionals and lawyers to use technologies as they are deployed there?
Yeah, I just kind of start with you and ask what what your experience has been around that? What have you seen? Bur, I think there are some themes that are probably very present in a number of different law firms as it relates to the adoption and interest of using interest in using technology.
I think sometimes there’s a thought that every time to learn something new or if I do something faster, I won’t get paid as much. You know, we’re more efficient than that hits at our revenue. And so those are some of the barriers that we encounter as it relates to adopting new technologies.
But what we’ve seen over the past couple of years, particularly since March of last year, is that there’s an acceleration in interest in adoption. And it is. It’s a point in which law firms have an opportunity to open up the gates and introduce new products where there is there’s an interest.
So it’s kind of like meeting them where they are, right, when they’re when they’re ready for it. It’s just it’s just in time availability. Let’s recognize that and let’s let’s mobilize accordingly. But you know, back your question about, I think there’s probably some, some consistent barriers that all law firms experience as it relates to tech adoption.
Yeah. Okay. Let me just ask you, does that does that resonate with you? What’s what’s your experience been been in that regard? Know, I think that, you know, at an individual level, there is tech adoption as in actual use.
But it is in the in the in the main that we really missing it. Whether it’s the creating a culture of technology use and curiosity that I think kind of holds us back is learning new tech, as we all know, takes practice.
You know, you have to use it a number of times. Plus it requires supreme patience because there are inevitable frustrations with using technology, and all of that takes time. And as Esther quite rightly said, time equals money in law firms.
And so the fact that, you know, you have to slow down before you can speed up with some of the technologies and some of the technology does introduce other frustrations. And hopefully those frustrations are fewer than than originally.
But none of that is easy. All of that is it. And as you’ll hear throughout this session, I think, you know, we’ve we’ve we’ve got some best practices that we might use to try and increase that. But I don’t think anyone should think there’s a magic pill or some magical fairy dust that we can sprinkle across our law firms and magically will have, you know, full use and adoption of tech. Yeah. Well, Sherri, what every kid said law firms to some degree, have to slow down in order to speed up. Is that what’s happened over the last couple of years?
I don’t know. Slowing down is the right way to put it exactly, but maybe come to a full stop. I think where Kate touched on this was it was about, you know, you said about the individual. I feel that one of the barriers for initially for tech adoption was that, yeah, it was just one person doing that thing. But now what’s happened is we have have broadened our view of how a legal team works together. And and equally, we’ve broadened our reach to working directly with the client in that same effort. And I think it’s all of those things that have really shuffled things.
And indeed, it did create a big pause, to be fair. And so, you know, we all had to learn and it’s such a terrible analogy. But like, we just all had to work, learn to work in the sandbox together because generally speaking, it was a very, very lonely right, a lonely realm to work as a lawyer with technology to get your work accomplished. And I think now we’re in a team and we have support and we have tools that work together. If we if we work together, that’s really so profound, isn’t it? Well, I mean, is it is that is that because to what extent has the pandemic kind of contributed to that, really?
I mean, is that why it’s no longer such a lonely pursuit? Or is it just the evolution of technology more broadly and adoption of technology? I do think that the pandemic let all of us get out of our own way.
You know, it really allowed us to eliminate some of the barriers to that. You know, the I dare I call it the hierarchy or a, you know, everybody was in this thing together. And so it just we just mirrored that in our use of technology.
I think that is true. I think the thing that we’re all concerned about and questing about and trying to to. Solidify, as we don’t all want a rubber band back to the way that it was, right? So as we start to approach our work back in the office or as we start to layer in additional technologies, we really want to build on what we’ve created and what what momentum we’ve established. We don’t want it to rubber band back to everyone’s lonely again. Yeah. So yeah. Well, Esther, on that point, you also mentioned that earlier when you’re commenting, how do we make sure we continue to build on what’s happened rather than, you know, let this be a temporary state of affairs and then we all fall back to the way things were. I keep trying to get back to normal. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but I think you can probably apply some of the same methodologies that will be used if we weren’t in a pandemic.
So it’s evaluation of how our products are being used, a sustained understanding. How and how are these things being used? My opportunities do we have gaps? Do we have here where we’re not using it, you know, particular software where it would be important?
So that requires a sustained effort and that is that requires sort of this idea of evaluating lifecycle metrics. What were the needs before we have the product over the need? Where how did it feel and what has been our why on it reporting in on on and you know, at the end or, you know, evaluation period and then understanding, you know, how how how are there opportunities for improvement? Where are there opportunities for improvement? So I think this was really a sustained effort and has to largely depend on the purpose of the can’t take a cookie cutter approach to every different technology platform.
And also from the practice perspective, where are their needs or other demands? Where’s an appetite for for some technology? Right? I don’t know if I said this at the outset, but in this changing lawyer report that I’ve been referring to and when we give you a link at the end of the program, you’ll be able to download the report from that same link. But but both Esther and Kate are our sources interviewed quoted in this in this report for their comments. And Kate, one of the things you talk about in that report with regard to adoption of technology is is the need to incentivize lawyers to use these technologies.
So if you could comment on that, how does a firm, you know, incentivized lawyers to use to technology? Well, I don’t I don’t think firms do. You know, we talk about compensatory incentives. They they really do not exist, as we talked about with the time.
But you know, I get all about pain points and making sure that there is there is a problem that people are having to begin with. So I find, for example, the word efficiency gets me absolutely nowhere. However, if if we start talking about being able to do the boring work faster, then I’ll get people who are really quite interested. They don’t want to do these frustrating, boring work, the work that they didn’t go to law school for. That is part and parcel of being a lawyer. And that’s where technology really is, really shines, is in those is in the things that computers are really, really good at and that humans find boring and using technology for those things that lawyers don’t have to spend their time creating narratives and, you know, the stuff that they really don’t want to do. That’s where I find the incentive really works. It’s about really identifying that pain point.
But that is not the same for everybody. You know, different people, different practices, different vintages. All of these things can make different incentives. And so you have to have quite a laundry list of incentives that you can use with different participants with some of the technology.
I find that one word that comes up a lot is intuitive. And you know, the technology really as table stakes for adoption really needs to be intuitive. What do we mean by intuitive? For me, that means it has to be usable, useful and engaging has to be all three of those things, which is not easy.
And some tech does that very well, and some tech does that really badly. And that will slow down adoption because it doesn’t it doesn’t create is not useful or it’s not. It’s completely unusable or it’s not engaging again, like, you know, our work.
You know, the reason we love these things is that they’re a tiny bit engaging and quite designed to be to hook you in. But but all our work technology is not is not that beautiful. And so we have to find other ways to to kind of create that, that adoption that makes it easier than tracking something in a word document or an Excel spreadsheet. So it has to it has to it has to mean more, if that makes sense. Yeah. Nicholas and anybody, you really want to comment on what Kate just said because it seemed really, really on point.
I don’t know, 11 thought that comes to mind, but as I always say, you know, we really always need to put a face on it. So is that face we’re going to delight the lawyer is that face we’re going to delight the client?
Is that face, you know, that we’re going to delight you because you get to go home early. And so if we think kind of through it in the messaging and the way that maybe the services that are helping organizations adopt technology, if what they do is they put a face on it, so it becomes, I don’t know, just multidimensional and purposeful. I feel like there’s always a lot, a lot more success. So we do we do approaches where we have advisors who work alongside at the firm as they adopt our technology, work alongside the lawyers as they adopt the technology.
And they’re kind of like their navigation guide. And, you know, just knowing you have that support and knowing you have that face. It really, really helps you into that area. And I think that’s really critical is to have a partner, the the technology partner and you put a vendor partner because it’s it’s indicating that we are going to be in a relationship where there’s going to be some give and take over the over the period of our open relationship, but that we are moving towards common objectives and common goals. And I think that we’ve experienced a lot of success and having those partners come in and help us with those sustained offers to help us to understand where we can plug in what has been successful with other firms or and or maybe remind us of where we had been before and what had worked in the past and just provide kind of a sounding board and brainstorming opportunities.
But I think you’re right. I think having it having the partnerships with technology companies is very important. Where where is the client in all of this is the client is the client. To what extent is the client part of the equation in selecting and deploying technology?
To what extent are the clients even driving the conversation to some extent at some firms around these issues now? What if what if any of you seen in that regard? A large part of. Just very briefly, a very large part of what we do is actually internal facing and has indirect benefits to clients, as in, you know, the fact that we’ve managed to speed up a lot of the a lot of the work has an indirect benefit to the client. But, you know, we’re not having, you know, we’re not having long conversations with the client about those kinds of technologies.
It’s only when we start talking about client solutions and things we’re building to to help the client work through their activities faster with using technology or automating processes that were very manual. That’s when, you know, that’s when we’re in partnership with that with the client and and co-creating with the client.
Whereas a lot of these in these, I don’t know, efficiency innovations, things that allow us to close a deal quicker. These are these are internal and really that the client conversation is is it’s kind of more focused on the RFP level where they they or at the gate engagement letter where they just they assume that the firm is going to be using all of the technology that makes them smarter, faster, better. Whereas, you know, the client solutions is really where the tech takes on a different conversation without without a different relationship with our clients. Yeah.
Cherry, I wonder if you see the same way, just because you’re you’re on the outside looking in to some extent of that equation. I mean, I often I talk to a lot of people at corporate legal departments who who seem to say, we are looking for firms that are using innovative technology, you know, not so much for the innovation, but for the value it might deliver them as a client. What are you seeing in this? So. So I definitely I’m seeing more and more law firms. Their clients are coming to them with a business problem.
And many, if not most times that business problem is best solved when you have technology to sort of support that and to make whether it’s data visible, whether it’s documents making those visible, making it easy for everyone to collaborate on, you know, you’re all engaged in the same matter.
And so I would say that that trend of the clients reaching out to the law firms, as you said, Esther, in partnership, you know, to intercept and and and create a solution for something, I think that’s when honestly, this all accelerates right?
It all accelerates. And I don’t want to steal thunder per se from the Changing Lawyers Summit on the 10th, but one of the guests on my panel is Sandy Crystal from See Stars. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with that organization, but they do.
They do some fantastic work training IT leaders for the future, and one project they put on it was done with a law firm where it was exactly that. That collaboration, it was a client issue. It was technology people.
It was individuals who were from diverse backgrounds, all working together to create something. And once that happens, that is a spark and it ignites and it goes internal, it goes out to other clients. You know, it’s a really wonderful place for a firm to be.
Yeah. Esther, you do talk in the report in the changing lawyer report on the fact that your firm has adjusted its tech strategy to align with the ability to be more collaborative. How what does that look like? What does that meant?
How have you achieved that? There are. So we accelerated and prioritized art. Our interest in collaboration tools, particularly since the pandemic, I mean, you know, you hear reports where clients say technology is the new marble floors for law firms.
I mean, so understanding that there was a strong desire for us to have the tools that connected every, every member of the matter team and the client teams, not just internal, that that’s the client that could be have a firm third party as well.
So in addition to that, accelerate accelerating those as a as a priority, you know, deploying individuals who were understanding how that technology could solve various pain points or be plugged into various workflows. So you don’t just have one group that’s advocating for the use of a particular technology, but you have a number of people that are within the firm that understand what that is and how it can work and when it would be appropriate, and then how to educate the lawyers on how to use it so that that has been the way to to get lawyers, to be more knowledgeable about the collaboration tools, but also get to use it and see see how clients respond to it. I mean, that that’s that’s your biggest thing when you have clients who are happy and enthusiastic and thrilled about our use of technology. I mean, that just perpetuates the interest and the engagement. Yeah. And any other comments on that point.
I was just going to mention that, you know, we all have spoken for years about big data and frankly, our clients have a lot of big data that they don’t quite know what to do with or to get value out of.
And I see that’s one of the one of the entrees is how do I sift through this and can you help me figure that out? So again, there’s there’s all sorts of ways that that partnership benefits and solidifies and strengthens a client relationship.
Yeah. Well, that’s a good segue way to another part of this report, which which actually kind of the first big part of the report is it comes out talks about the the idea that the data is really become a key to winning business and building strong relationships with clients.
So what does that mean in practical or practice terms? What what kinds of data should law firms be collecting or employing and how can they be using this data to better serve their clients? Is that something you could speak to?
So I think the first step is to acknowledge that we as a law firm have access to a ton of data and whether we’re organized to understand what that data is or not. Data is coming in from all different sources, a number of different sources within the firm and within workflows.
So I think the first step is to understand what data we have. You know, the types of data that is so descriptive data which is looking backwards and saying, OK, this is what happened before and you have the data and the predictive data where you kind of look at what’s happened before and how do we use this to predict what’s going to happen in the future? And then then there’s the prescriptive, which is the building on that and it’s saying this is what you should do. OK, so understanding a you have this data coming from these sources, what type of data?
And then third, how do we plan to use it for clients and for, you know, adding value to client relationships? And then, you know, the types of data that are obvious for that is obviously client feedback scores. That’s completely obvious, actionable data that can be used and and measured.
You know, clients are always asking for DNA metrics, you know, pricing and budgeting those sorts of things. We can use data to inform that. But then when you start to use it for practice and for legal analysis and advice into better position clients for future M&A deals or litigation strategies, when you use the data from prior engagements or engagements that for that client or engagements that are across the practice, you can really provide insights and value in that because that hits their business objectives, you’re providing something that helps them with their strategy. So that’s where firms have a real opportunity to use what they have already to communicate and to add more value to really see. And it’s really interesting, Kate, that what’s what’s your take on that how how is it that law firms can be using data to better serve their clients? Yes. Yeah. Well, I don’t actually think data is the real value or benefit here.
It really is. The insights and answers that are derived and insights and answers are knowledge. So it’s really the knowledge that he derived from the from the data that we should be focusing on. And so, as Esther says, he was starting from, well, what are we?
You know, what is the competitive advantage? What might we be able to? What insights could we give us as as Benny Jones, a single law firm to our clients because our market and our clients is not necessarily the same as others.
So there is competitive advantage in figuring out what, what, what, what data we might have that would give these insights and answers internally as well as externally. Some of this is client facing. Some of it is being able to sense check gut decisions or gut feelings and and and other confirmation biases that the human suffers from.
But using the data driven or the evidential based input allows us to make better decisions and indeed talk to our clients about deeper insights about the work that we are responsible for taking on. So. Yeah. All right. Sherry, what are you hearing perspectives on that?
Well, I was I was going to say there really the the data that that we at Lettura are focused on in terms of our technologies and that adoption topic. You know, we gather usage metrics and what we, you know, yay.
Somebody clicked on a button 42 times. That’s not the value, right? It’s so to your point, Kate. It’s not the value. The real value is that you used these tools to work on 175 documents in the last month.
That’s huge value. And it just means that you have 175 documents that have higher quality and serve the client with with that than you did a month ago when you didn’t have the technology. And I think that’s that’s that interpretation is really important because you could always fall back on that one side, bob from it to can that one year with a data guy came in and he said, we are going to use data to make every decision. And he said in the absence of data, we’ll use opinion and in fact, that opinion shall be mine.
And we all we all see, we’ve worked through that little cycle, haven’t we? But that conjecture, that was the word. It was just, yeah, it’s yeah. In the absence of data will use opinion. Well, you know, one of the areas that I hear a lot about with regard to the use of data potentially is specifically with regard to this question of a better setting, helping clients and for firms better setting budgets and pricing around legal matters. And when we’re talking about delivering concrete value to clients, it seems like getting into the area of better pricing of matters is is a is a very strong area where we can do that.
I mean, are any of you doing that now as to are Kate, are you are you doing or your firms using kind of pricing, using historical billing data and matter data to more accurately or better price matters? Yes, we do.
And in some situations, we share that with the client, you know, depending on where the client is in their own interest level and degree of sophistication as it relates to comparing law firms and, you know, specific matters. But yes, we use historical data to develop pricing models and pricing options for our clients.
But, you know, it really comes down to also value, right? What do they perceive as the value of this, of this engagement value of this matter? And something that can be really supported by data as well? And you know, it’s a conversation.
But yes, data definitely comes into the equation when we are considering different pricing models. Yeah. You’re doing anything in that regard as to. Yeah, yeah, but it’s a it’s a long and painful process to use historical narratives. So, you know, that’s that’s a world of fun.
Yeah. Yeah, OK. You know, we talk about using it with regard to delivering better value to clients. What about with regard to getting clients? Using it in RFP is using it in IT marketing? Are their applications for data in that regard that you see?
Yeah, we have a foundation. Thank you, Tara. And you know that it is sometimes it is just a visualization on on the data that gives you the insights about where, where our strengths lie and for being able to be really clear about it’s not just testimonials about the work that we do in specific specialist areas that but how much work do we actually do in those specialist areas? And that that’s where, you know, be able to see that data in new ways, which I think is what foundation really does with the city. With the visualizations over the top, you kind of get to get a sense of where we are, you know, a heat map, if you like, of where where our strengths lie as a firm. And so being a lot more targeted with responding to our peas and other pitches to to direct our energies, basically, I think data is now, you know, we couldn’t take that data away.
You know, we’re now hooked on on on relying on that data to to help us respond to our piece and the right, our piece. Yeah. What about other kinds of historical data, such as litigation data, I was curious if you’re looking at all using that at all, and I refused to say, you know, in this kind of matter, we’ve had this sort of success rate in these types of matters before this particular judge, in this particular court or whatever else or are you are using that kind of litigation analytics data. It’s on my project list for 2020 to continue on.
But, you know, COVID continued, so we had to we had to suppliers. We prioritize putting this, but it is on on the list. And interestingly, the same conference had a number of examples of the partnering instead yet partnering with third parties like Thomson, which is likely to our other vendors who have big data also and be able to combine them internally and externally. And that’s basically my project list for 2022. And up here in Canada, we have slightly different challenges to you guys in the U.S., you know, we have nonstandard and when I say nonstandard, I really mean nonstandard outputs from the courts, which which makes a lot of the litigation data a lot harder. It needs a lot more training before we can really see the value. Hence we all. You know, not quite as far along as some fans in the U.S., but your first case in case techs like these, these firms who allow you to actually start mining that data, we are still cleaning our data.
But we’ll be there soon. All right, well, call us when the latter is done. We’ll check in. Yes, sir, just on this data point, get one of the things you talk about in this report is is this idea that that the way a firm could leverage data is going to depend in part on the extent to which their clients have embraced data data analytics? So could you just elaborate on that? What did you mean by that and how does that play out in your firm? Well, I think it’s about understanding what clients are tracking, what metrics they are reporting to their board.
I mean, understanding the things that matter, the KPIs that matter to the client. Help us to organize, structure our own reporting to them. And oftentimes, you know, even if they’re not asking for data from their firms being in a position to push the data or push information out to them proactively, you can either engage, allow us to engage in a conversation with the client about here. These things are really important to us. We appreciate these metrics. Could you provide us this? And this is actually what this would be terribly helpful for us because I don’t have to read through all these bills or I don’t have to do this right after that.
You’ll save me tons of time. And we we have the data we can. We can provide that to them rather than being in a reactive state where they’re asking for the data, right? We’re just you’re in a better advantaged spot when it’s proactive, it’s being pushed out.
But but yeah, there’s I mean, I think it really boils down to finding out what the what our clients are tracking, what they’re what they’re interested in reporting, what that sort of thing. So we can we can identify where there are gaps.
Maybe we can plug in some things that they don’t they don’t necessarily have access to or they don’t know where we can analyze it a little differently. But I think it just comes down that, you know, asking and having inherent in dialog, which is a theme of the changing lawyer, right?
Having a dialog around things that are not typically part of the legal work, the technology data value, all of that is somewhat outside of the then on, you know, the legal analysis strategy, that sort of thing. So sometimes what’s been really helpful is to engage and bring in someone from legal operations, either on the client side or the law firm side, to the extent they have to do that and they can have the dialog among each other, identify opportunities there to kind of free up their lawyers to focus on the legal work. You know, that’s a great point.
Cheri, what are you seeing? I mean, are you seeing are there other opportunities or consistent opportunities for law firms that you’re seeing with regard to their use of data here? It’s the identification of value, certainly or or following a path to identify it.
I think Esther’s comment about the diversity of of people who look at that and who are working in that kind of strategy, that is again something that I think that that I’m seeing more and more often is just more perspectives at the table, including tech people.
Right. And so I don’t know, I guess beyond that, really? No. Yeah. I’m curious about the I guess the budget question here. You know, we talk a lot about larger firms adopting a lot of these kinds of technologies, being able to better use data and analyze data.
But to what extent is this a matter of budget? What what about smaller firms that I can just peruse some of the people who are attending today and say there are some smaller firms attending today? What are the options for them?
What are the alternatives for them in in deploying technology and adopting technology when they may not have a mega budget to spend on all of this? Yes, there is something you talk about a little bit in the report.
I wonder if you could comment on it. I think it’s, you know, it’s about starting small and mean understanding just what what you have available, beginning to look at it and in doing what you can do with the resources that you have.
And and and just thinking about how to do things a little. We have this available, you know, we’re constrained by resources, but how do we deploy this in a different way? How do we position it differently? How do we engage, you know, a client or an outer team a little differently in this?
And sometimes it’s a process that we may not even be necessary to have a technology or a data strategy. Sometimes it comes down to just defining a really good process. And from that, you can, you know, you can extract some of that different data points or value.
You know, it’s interesting I was actually on a panel recently with corporate general counsel, and most of them were from very large corporations with very large legal departments and there was one on there was a true lawyer legal department, and it was interesting to hear how she is really making innovative use of technology, but with a lot of sort of off the shelf software that any of us could buy. And if you put it together and deploy it in the right way, you can make some you could really do some innovative stuff. And I’m sure that’s that’s true for four law firms as well.
Anybody else have any thoughts on that budget question or I was just going to say that that I think as a smaller, smaller firm, I think you do need to be more hyper focused on the tech that will actually make a difference to you.
You know, there’s a lot of technology out there and you don’t I don’t think it it it is in small firms with limited budget in their interest to be first. For example, I would I would definitely wait from some maturity in in certain areas because you can then rely on some deep research testimonials about how big a funds have implemented that technology and then figure out how how you might implement that technology because it will be different because you do have different pain points and different challenges and indeed different competitive advantage for actually using the technology.
So be much more focused on or on which of the technologies are actually going to help you differentiate about where you play in the market is. I think it will help make sure that you spend that limited budget in exactly the areas you need to, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the most hyped technology which may not actually work for you. And so I think it does. You can take a little bit of a slower, a slower adoption cycle, almost for some of the technologies and waiting for some of that maturity to come out to the market.
Yeah, good points. I want to just remind viewers and listeners we’ve only got about just under 15 minutes left in the program and we will take your questions. We don’t have any questions yet to take, but if you want to submit a question, go ahead and submit it in there.
There was a comment from somebody in the audience going way back to our earlier discussion about lawyers adopting new technologies that with regard to the pandemic, that it in fact forced us to adopt more technology. And it wasn’t even necessarily a choice.
And I think that’s really clear. We could we could talk more about that. But a couple of the other points that were in the changing lawyer report that I think are worth at least touching on, and you can get the report.
Read a lot more about that. But but what is this issue of diversity and inclusion, which, you know, has been so much at the forefront of everything over the last year and a half? But unfortunately, the legal profession still doesn’t have a great track record on this issue, and they’ve been struggling.
I know and I know a lot of people work really hard on this. But the changing lawyers report notes that only 37% of lawyers are women, and only 14% of lawyers are people of color. To have that right, that’s so low.
And you know, again, I know any number of initiatives at law firms and throughout the legal profession to try and address this issue. But you know, does anybody want to just comment on why it even matters? Why is the diversity discussion relevant to how law firms serve their clients and run their businesses?
Why is that important? Well, our clients are diverse. I mean, I mean, absent the benefits of having a variety of perspectives and collaboration among a number of different people. I mean, I think players are typically accustomed to working now as individuals, not comfortable working as individuals and they work on a matter team.
It’s a little less comfortable. And then you involve different perspectives that may not completely always agree with with your own. But if it sharpens you and so you become, you become better. You know, those are those are all sort of obvious things.
But our our clients are diverse and they are looking for it to work with people that look like them, that that that think like them and and are embracing the same sort of values. That the that they do.
So we have a lot of work to do. Make sure that that whole, it’s back to the face again, right? It’s we have to mirror what the clients are, are in and of themselves comprised of men and frankly in and we go, we don’t do that yet.
We just don’t. I think the page in there that I was particularly stunned by Bob was the one about the law society did about the women in in law firms. And and it was like over five years, I think, and it said there’s been some improvement.
Well, we’re talking like one and two and three percentage points. That was called some improvement. I think that’s not. And I just really feel like the the women in legal and just just, you know, in every category, a diversity.
To be fair, there’s more work to be done, way more work to be done. Yeah. one of the interesting conversations I had recently was with someone who is who was talking about using how law firms can be using data to help drive diversity and in particular, using data to track the kinds of job assignments that are given to younger, newer associates in a firm with an eye toward the idea that there are certain kinds of assignments that are more beneficial to career movement and moving up the ladder within a firm and others that aren’t. And if you can really look at, you know, our it’s one thing for a firm to bring diverse people into the firm. But but then what kinds of opportunities are you given to them? What kind of mentoring are you giving to them once they’re in the firm? And and this is something where technology actually has a role in helping you monitor and evaluate that or any of you doing anything like that or have you seen any this has seen any other applications of technology and helping to kind of promote diversity within your firms. We’re actually just looking at products right now that would advance that, that those initiatives that do exactly what you’re talking about, Adobe yes.
Definitely some interest there. OK. And then one other area of the report that, you know, it’s harder, harder to relate it directly to the issue with client service in my mind, but maybe not in areas, is what the report talks really about the significant changes in the courts over the last couple of years and in the courts adoption of technology. And again, talk about being forced into something right that that’s really what’s happened, you know? Richard Richard Susskind, who who came out with this book on modernizing the courts just before the pandemic, oddly enough. But I mean, he talks in that book about the problem with innovating in the courts is that, you know, it’s hard to change. The tire on a moving vehicle is the analogy he uses. And, you know, certainly, if anything, if nothing else, the pandemic kind of did in fact, bring the courts to a to a full full stop and a reboot, perhaps in a lot of ways.
But what what what does that mean? Sherry, I think you have some thoughts on what does that mean in terms of how law firms can be, you know, taking advantage of this new level of innovation in the courts and better serving their clients.
So for one thing, just to make sure everyone knows Richard Susskind is going to talk about that very topic in the Changing Lawyers Summit. So once again, no, that that wasn’t the more thunder from the summit. And and I think secondly, I think what we all have to realize is that, you know, the courts being a a public, a public service and some of the inertia that they face, the fact that we have this momentum, frankly, Esther began very much in your state, in Michigan and really they they achieved a lot in a very short period of time.
But the key thing I think we all need to look at is, yes, the benefit of broadening access to justice, access to the courts and how sustainable we can make that. But more importantly, there are so many innovations there.
And and and honestly, we need to keep watch. We need to jump in. We need to take whatever kinds of cycles we might have to work with the courts and certain endeavors that will really benefit us all. So I just think it’s an important thing to keep watch on from many different levels.
Very exciting to. All right. So there was a comment just with regard to our discussion just now from somebody in the audience about their firm has adopted a initiative called Life in Law, an initiative we have. It’s been a great resource, includes website, blog, et cetera, and has been frankly eye opening.
As Sherry said, We’ve not made many strides yet. We have a lot more work to do. But love that your firms are looking at diversity and making it a priority. So that sounds really good. That’s the firm is Harper Gray, Harper Gray dot com.
And there was a question from somebody in the audience, and the question is what technology is at least expensive for a small firm to invest in? No big question from a small firm. I actually have some thoughts on how to answer that, but I wonder if any of you have any any thoughts on this huge question.
It’s a huge kind of technology, but I do think that, you know, practice management software has has matured. But you know, the problem, the problem you get come up against is there’s now quite a lot on the market.
And so actually plumping for which practice management tool or platform you actually go for, go with is actually kind of made more complicated. And so even that I would say, you still need to do a lot of research right now and and figure out what it is that you that you need from something as big as, say, a practice management tool. Because it does, it could do lots of things. But if if if your firm is a litigation boutique versus versus mainly corporate, you’ll need you’ll need quite different resources or functionality within that within that system.
So there is again, I’m so sorry to the verticals that but there was no simple answer go out now and buy any discovery tool. There are new, yeah, inexpensive. And it can end up being quite expensive, even if you even if you decide to invest.
If you don’t get your requirements correct from from the get go. Yeah, we’re going to put a slide up right now. That just has enough. Is that up now for the viewers to see this information on the the Soviet we’ve been talking about all through this program, the Changing Lawyer Virtual Summit, and there is a hyperlink in that slide that you should be able to click right on and it’ll take you right to the registration page. And even if you don’t want to go to the summit, or even if you’re not sure, that’s also going to take you to a page where you can download the report, the PDF of the report that we’ve been talking about all through this program. So take a look at that and and consider signing up for that. It’s a great report. I do want to put my degree on that. I do think some of the topics that they discuss, like when you get into the whole thing on collaboration, which I actually love from beginning to end. So there’s a lot in that. And so I would really recommend you take a download. I actually would like a I’d like a physical copy. I don’t know whether I can get one, but I will, because he’s one of those.
I’m going to play again and again and again, rather than throwing in a database and maybe not have a reading again. So we. Yeah, it really is a good report, it’s a great it’s a great read and draws on a lot of data, a lot more data than talking about data that we’ve been talking about here.
So, you know, we’ve only got a couple of minutes left, and I don’t I don’t see any other questions coming in. So perhaps we might just take a moment to kind of go around and offer our offer. Your final thoughts on on what we’ve been talking about here today as a way of wrapping up.
And Esther, I’ll put you on the spot. I’ll start with you. Anything else you want to say on us? But all right. Well, I think actually, I’ll just wrap back up to where I started was that, you know, we’re at a point in great change in the legal profession.
We’ve been in the point of great change for a period of time, but it was just incredibly accelerated in the past year and a half. But that seems like we definitely are at an inflection point where we have opportunities to look at how we have been doing things and evaluate, is this the best way to do it forward? And there’s there’s more readiness for that, and conversation is more readiness for engaging in that sort of the sort of activities. So I’d say just if there’s been something that’s holding back, just go for it. It’s it’s it’s a time of change and for trying things.
Yeah, that’s a good thing. Kate, how about you? Oh, well, that’s that’s a fantastic summary. I think I think it’s dry. I think the the legal tech market has exploded, is exploding. There is way more opportunity to to solve some of those pain points you might be having with technology.
But no, that is a hard journey. And none of this even plugging in a printer at home, we know that there’s only so much that’s quite large when you do of a large firm. So I think, you know, get your ducks in a row, understand what it is that you need for them from generally before making an investment. But that adoption and and pushing deployment is not a it’s not a launch and one it really is a partnership that we have to that we journey on with our lawyers for full adoption for constant communication and constant training.
Getting the new students to act as change agents, like all of this, is a big journey, which is which is, I think, why law firms hire people like myself and Esther and others to help them in that journey.
Because it is not, it is not an easy one. So but there are there are reports like the one, the the terrorism and these sessions like this to help and so happy for people to reach out and ask their questions.
Yeah, thanks. Thanks. That’s actually an excellent point that we really haven’t talked about at all, and we don’t have time now. But just even the fact that law firms are hiring people like the two of you in your positions have become so essential over the last year, in particular the last few years.
I mean, this is not a recent phenomenon, but but that your positions have become so front and center in law firms is a real significant trend. Sure, you get the final word today. Join us for this summit. You know, you’re going to be able to pick up so much about what we’ve been talking about today, but also seeing something that’s a good example of everyone working together and everyone having a conversation together. We’re going to have so much to share. And so just join us for that. Well, Seth Godin, Richard Susskind. Other list of speakers.
It sounds like a great program, so I’m there. All right. Well, thanks. Thanks again to to to lettura and to above the law for presenting this program today. Thanks to all of you in the audience for tuning in and listening.
And thank you very much. Keep a strong cherry. Thank you for listening to legal tech matters. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.