This Special Issue is brought to you by HPC #CyberMatch ™
“There is nothing to fear but fear itself. And fear is not a worthy adversary.”
In our second #ThinkTank, we asked a panel of our world-class Faculty to share their uniquely valuable insights on the State of the Legal Industry. In this case, we asked them to speak to what is “top of mind” right here, right now. The richness and diversity of their thinking makes for timely, compelling reading. We hope you enjoy it.
Founder, CEO & Publisher
High Performance Counsel
#TopOfMind: What single issue or opportunity is top of mind for you in the legal industry right now – and why?
There are 20 billion connected devices worldwide, give or take a few billion. Those devices are creating and storing an enormous volume of data. New devices are introduced and old ones become obsolete at an unprecedented rate. The consequences are staggering to contemplate.
Cybersecurity must be the first priority for corporations. Every point of connection is a risk. Mapping and managing Internet of Things data is a major information governance challenge as well. Connected devices are a unique technology combining user data, automated data creation, third-party systems and disparate hardware and software.
Connected device data is a new frontier in eDiscovery. Law enforcement and insurance companies were the first to recognize the importance of IoT data. However, it’s potentially relevant in a wide range of civil and regulatory matters. Relevant connected device data must be preserved, collected, reviewed and produced like any other source of Electronically Stored Information. Our digital forensics group expects to see much more activity around IoT in the near future, especially in departed employee investigations and other employment matters.
What does this all add up to for legal professionals? First, learn about connected devices. They raise significant new issues of relevance, proportionality and authentication. Second, seek assistance from digital forensics experts. IoT data requires specialized skills and software tools. Finally, think strategically about connected devices and their technical, legal and cost ramifications. IoT is an exciting and challenging emerging area of law and technology.
Cybersecurity is top of mind. A primary requirement of the legal profession is to obtain data and explore evidence, access the implications of that evidence, and prepare accordingly to protect and serve the client. Cybersecurity is integral for the profession to operate. Unfortunately, most law firms (and companies for that matter), lack the critical awareness, policies, and technologies to best secure the crown jewels. This jewels include private firm interchange, records, and especially privileged attorney client communications.
The risks to law firms are already very high. A 40-year law firm Mossack Fonseca, closed as a result of a data breach that revealed the Panama Papers. About two-thirds of law firms have experienced some sort of data breach, according to a 2017 cybersecurity scorecard from Logicforce, a LexisNexus company.
Law firms are also facing a daunting list of security and operational challenges that have been affiliated with emerging technologies: cybersecurity, privacy, encryption, connectivity, spectrum, block-chain, biometrics and quantum computing.
With the growing emerging technology challenges increasing risk to revenues and reputation, law firms should consider hiring cybersecurity professionals to augment their IT shops. If possible, they should also explore brining in outside expertise from SMEs who understand the latest developments in technologies and compliance directives in the cyber ecosystem. The growing amount of sophisticated phishing, ransomware, and DDoS attacks are challenging and outside help is becoming more of an imperative.
What it means to innovate. Too many continue to believe that legal technology (or technology, more generally) is a prerequisite for innovation. This is simply not the case. Innovation encompasses far more than simply using or developing a technological tool to solve a problem. Innovation also can come in the form of process improvement, delivery improvement, or some combination of the two. Innovation also does not have to come in the form of a big step forward. Often the most impactful innovations are incremental, e.g. those that improve a step or two within a process. Innovation also cannot just happen out of the blue. There needs to be support for change and that can only come from a culture supportive of and encouraging of experimentation. This not easy to find nor easy to establish, but nevertheless important to have.
The ongoing drive to deliver legal services efficiently and to ensure that legal drives a competitive advantage to the business:
Collaboration within the legal industry – between different segments of the legal ecosystem (Law firms, ALSPs, Law Schools, Big 4, Tech providers, consultants, regulators). Between People, process and technology, People always wins.
Data – run legal like a business. Capture data for multitude of reasons:
- Measure efficiencies
- Know when to throw in the towel – Fail Fast
- Identify gaps
- Identify value to the company (ROI)
Innovate – Start innovating NOW. You can’t catch up, so don’t be slow in getting started
Human talent. With endless talk of how technology will lead to significant change, innovation, efficiencies, etc., it is clear that incredible opportunity exists for human talent in the legal industry if we learn how to: (1) effectively augment human work with technology and tools; (2) improve diversity in the profession and ensure better inclusion; and, if we can drive a culture of performance through recognition of health and wellness for human beings in the profession.
The single opportunity that is top of mind in the legal industry right now is grasping the inevitability of technological change necessary for those in legal to thrive in this new digital age. The legal discipline, which has been traditionally slow to adapt to charge, will be forced to breakdown knowledge silos, collaborate with technologists, and reimage the modern legal industry. Change now will be mission critical instead of optional and the tech geeks will move from the backroom to the boardroom. The only choices will be to adapt or be left behind.
Artificial Intelligence is an unstoppable tool and we must use it.
- Becoming commercially available;
- Legal research using AI is around 90% accurate; and
- AI replaces associates and undermines the leveraged business model of most law firm.
AI is not coming; it is already here!
The single issue AND greatest opportunity in the legal industry right now is legal technology and, more specifically, the ability to leverage legal technology to provide better and more efficient services to our clients. Not only does increasing one’s efficiency result in the ability to compete in a competitive legal profession, but it also allows lawyers to help address access to justice issues. Simply, by increasing the volume of work one can do, by reducing the resources (time and otherwise) required to perform tasks, a tech-savvy lawyer can reasonably reduce rates and service previously unserved clients, while still maintaining a profitable practice.
Associate training is my top issue. How are firms, whose partners are primarily focused on maximizing their billable hours, going to train their associates in an environment where clients are less likely to subsidize that training? The answer to that is third parties who will create training programs, protocols and in house workshops to train associates.
Joy Heath Rush
The single biggest topic is what the practice will look like in three to five years. How will law firm competition be different? How will the growth of legal ops continue to evolve the procurement of legal services in large companies and how will that manifest itself in smaller clients? What roles will lawyers have “normally” that they don’t have today?
Two distinct “legal solutions” have emerged in today’s legal industry: (1) the traditional practice of law and (2) the business of delivering legal information and data services. Clients now receive a hybrid qualitative/quantitative service mix by which the traditional practice of law is heavily influenced by mass customization and legal analytics provided by third party industry disruptors. The biggest opportunity for the legal industry is to capitalize on the technology / legal analytics trend. Every other industry and business segment has been leveraging data analytics to improve business results. Some forward-thinking legal industry leaders are finally doing so. For clients, it means getting better, data driven advice and results more cost-effectively. For law firms, it means using data as a much-needed differentior for business development purposes and creates an opportunity to generate revenue not just from services, but product based revenue as well.
Legal Operations strategies, i.e. 2-3 year Legal Ops Tech and Process Roadmap. When I was operating in house, we spent a significant amount of time planning. Planning what projects to embark upon, budget planning, headcount planning, etc. And while I had all of these individual plans documented mostly on paper, but sometimes in my head, I treated them as separate projects and I didn’t pull them all together into a single Legal Operations Strategy. Now that I’m consulting with departments, it’s become evident to me how critical it is to have all of this documented and mapped out in one place. A roadmap is simply a visual representation of what projects are to be undertaken in the next couple of quarters or years. This is done by working with stakeholders in the department to gain an understanding of priorities, developing solutions to address these priorities (which will be a combination of process enhancements, staffing and technology), then determining what resources are needed to implement said solutions. This plan gives the team a goal to work towards in a holistic fashion rather than addressing issues on an ad hoc basis.
Get a Grip. Getting a handle on data privacy and protection is massively important for today’s law firms. This is not simply because of compliance and liability concerns. It’s also a matter to staying in business. Firms that have failed by pay sufficient attention to these issues are at risk of losing business to those that can satisfy increasing client-imposed cyber and privacy requirements. Firms that implement strong and demonstrable cyber and privacy policies and procedures, backed by an appropriate cyber insurance policy, have a real competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
Corporate Legal Departments are not islands, they are part of the end-to-end processes of their organizations. To avoid becoming the analogue outliers in company-wide digital transformations they need to recognize this. They need to stop talking about Legal Operations and talk about Business Operations. They need to make business cases not legal cases. They need to realize that all roads lead to the data. How can you evolve a legal operating model if you do not have the data that tells you, real time and on a trend basis, what cases/matters you have, where they have come from, where they are in the process and why you closed them? All roads lead to the data.
Lucy Endel Bassli
Single biggest opportunity in our industry is to educate the practicing attorneys about innovative practices and service delivery.
What the #britishairways and #Marriott #gdpr fines mean for corporate America, and how these cases will warrant a reemphasis on enterprise risk management, M&A risk and cyber risk.
We live in an age where there are a myriad of forces at play in shaping the modern day legal services business — more than at any other time since the dawn of the profession. Choosing one is difficult, but if I had to do so I would say it is the looming threat of the forthcoming changing of the guard — nearly 80 million retiring Baby Boomers and the entry of Gen Z (born between 1991 and 2012) into the workplace. Why is this crucial? Because firms without a proper succession plan will be vulnerable. And we know these firms exist. Anecdotally, I believe the top three things that likely keep law firm leaders “up at night” are:
- Data Privacy
- Organizational Culture
- Succession Planning
Two of the three have to do with protecting the corpus of the institution through its constituents — the people who make it up its assets.
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