Who are you and what is your role?
Nicole Black, attorney and Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, which provides legal practice management software for solo and small firm lawyers. I like to think that I exist where law and technology intersect and it’s my job to educate lawyers on how technology can change their lives and their practices for the better.
What do you think will be the single most defining technical or operational feature of the next 1-5 years in law? And then, same question – but over the next decade?
For the next 1-5 years, it’s cloud computing. Cloud computing is coming of age in the legal profession and we’ve reached a tipping point where lawyers not only understand its benefits, but also recognize that its many benefits greatly outweigh its perceived risks. The ability to securely access case files and communicate from clients from anywhere using any device is a game-changer that gives lawyers greatly increased flexibility, convenience and mobility. Over the next decade, it’s surely AI. The technologies needed to truly make AI a functional, useful tool are finally where they need to be to make AI both functional and incredibly useful in the legal profession.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is touted as a game-changer for law. What do you think?
See above. I do think it is a game-changer and that advancements in AI in the coming years will have a dramatic impact on the legal profession. AI software grounded in machine learning and advanced analytics will impact many areas of practice by reducing the amount of rote work typically performed by lawyers. Many new products will be released to assist lawyers with a vast array of functions. Technology tools will be designed to take advantage of AI to streamline timekeeping, contract review, due diligence analysis, legal analytics for litigation and more. While some lawyers will view AI software as a threat, most will realize that these tools are a welcome change. Rather than replacing lawyers, AI software will instead remove some of the drudgery from lawyers’ lives, allowing them to focus on higher-level analytical thinking and their clients’ needs.
Cybersecurity is often quoted as being both the next greatest risk and also the greatest revenue opportunity for legal services providers. What are your thoughts?
Cybersecurity is more often than not a matter of due diligence and common sense. As long as lawyers carefully research service providers and take sufficient steps to ensure that confidential client information remains confidential, then cybersecurity isn’t the red herring it’s often made out to be. After all, there’s not such thing as absolute security; instead lawyers are obliged to take reasonable steps to ensure sufficient data security.
There is much more data available for both lawyers and their clients? Is more better – or just more?
Certain aspect of legal practice can be automated. For example, certainly it’s far more easier to automate aspects of transactional practices than it is to automate litigation practices. But even litigators create documents on a regular basis and for those tasks, automation can provide much-needed efficiency.
We see a push for greater “value” and “innovation” in both legal products and price levels, structures? Is there more to value than the price tag these days?
Absolutely. 21 century legal clients have certain expectations when it comes to providing legal services. 24/7 client access to information and the ability to communicate via secure online portals with whomever is providing them services is commonplace across industries and as a result, legal clients expect that same convenience during legal matters. Meeting client expectations in this fashion is a tremendous value proposition that extends beyond the price of legal services.
There’s a growing trend toward litigation funding and other forms of legal financing. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s important to be wary of the ethical regulations that govern this type of financing, since failing to do so can lead to disastrous consequences.
Last question: what’s the one shift or change you think will catch the industry un-prepared in the next decade – whether good, bad or downright ugly?
The liberalization of the legal profession. Richard Susskind predicts that this UK trend will eventually extend to the US and I think he’s correct, although it may not occur as quickly as he suggests.But I do believe it will occur and when it does and non-lawyers are permitted to have ownership interests in law firms, it will have wide ranging effects on the legal industry as we know it in the US.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase.com, legal practice management software. She is the nationally-recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a regular columns for The Daily Record, Above the Law, and Legal IT Pros, and has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing, and Internet-based technology. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee, and not of their affiliated organizations or of High Performance Counsel.