By David Kinnear


While two nations may be divided by the same language nothing divides the US and UK like the relative popularity of fruit cake. Giving someone a fruit cake gift in the US is, essentially, the equivalent of un-friending them on Facebook or blocking them on Twitter. It’s a clear statement that you (a) don’t like them or (b) you don’t really understand gifting. Don’t even get me started on the politics of re-gifting a fruit cake.

Legal efficiency is a lot like cake. But it’s not a bad thing. Let’s unpack that.

Law used to be a one way street for clients. It was essentially a delivery service – and often a very expensive one. Increasingly, not so now as more collaborative and efficient methods come into being. We are embarked on one of the most fundamental shifts in professional services – driven by technology (of course) but increasingly by the sense of empowerment that both lawyers and clients experience. Law may yet prove to be one of the greatest case studies in services liberation and product generation via digital enablement.

Related, I spent some time this week chatting with the leadership of Legal Sifter. Case-in-point. Their ‘phone is ringing off the hook fielding calls from both law firms and corporate counsel – each looking at the issue of contract management in new ways.

Consider the dilemma of the typical law firm. How does the typical law firm manage the contracts it reviews and edits for clients – especially now in an era of fixed pricing and rate constraints? Several lawyers, numerous contracts, different matters – how do you drive the efficiency required? Add to that the need for access controls and maybe even a nice user experience.

Consider the angst of the typical corporate attorney interfacing with both in-house counsel and external law firms. How does he or she coordinate and leverage the know-how they have – and also embody that in the contracts they use. How does the benefit of one contract mark-up get captured and pollinated in others?

These are practical uses. The kind that many lawyers face – in the real world. The experience inherent in the review process costs money so how do you spread the cost of your investment and get the most from it? If the old days were about spending money on each contract review and marking up old templates each time, these days more customers want more leverage.

There is good news. Lawyers can now have their cake and eat it. The world hasn’t come to an end and it won’t any time soon. The really super thing about tech like Legal Sifter is that it helps lawyers on both sides of the divide get stuff done the way it needs to – and the way that clients want it.

Digital law is unlike anything that has gone before. The many applications of it and the many mechanisms by which it will be tapped are starting to unfold. It is a brave and exciting new world in which there is a ton of upside for lawyers and clients alike. We reject the notion that tech is simply undermining. It is extraordinarily enabling for those willing to engage.

Law is like cake. No really. Maybe not fruit cake. But there is plenty of icing for everyone and those who embrace this shift can do very well from it.