The legal industry is in play.

Let that sit with you for a moment. For several years since early LPO experiences, voices have murmured about the time this point was coming – and when “it would happen”. That moment has finally arrived.

So when I sat down to write a few introductory words for this special issue of #TopOfMind – my mind immediately turned to my most-treasured quotation, which I share for you here:

“Change is a dragon. You can ignore it, which is futile. 
You can fight it, in which case you will lose. 
Or you can ride it.” [Anon.]

This is the philosophy that we embraced in launching High Performance Counsel just under two years ago in anticipation of this shift in the legal market. It is the acquired wisdom we happily share with anyone who will accept it. The proverb speaks to change – and being open to change – on both an individual and organizational level. To be sure, the change ahead in the legal industry will impact all participants. No-one gets to sit it out.

To understand change is to embrace it. To embrace it is to leverage it – or simply squander the opportunity that it represents. We’ve seen this in several prior chapters of industry change – HRO, ITO, BPO, KPO, FA&O. Witness the vast land-grabs, the shocking demise of household industry names and the epic rise of new empires – the ascendancy of technology and the injection of big ticket investor funds into growth areas and organizations – not just pocket money. Real money.

Now the attention turns to law. And it’s time to pay close attention.

We asked a rich, diverse, passionate, talented pool of fifty or so of the legal industry’s sharpest minds to speak up – to share (candidly) what they’re thinking about – and what, ultimately, is top of mind for each.

Law is a reflection of life itself. None of us knows all the answers – indeed, none of us even knows all the questions to ask. But when some of the best-of-the-best lean in to share their thoughts, it might be a good time to listen.

Yours aye,

David Kinnear
Founder, CEO & Publisher
High Performance Counsel
New York

September 20, 2018

David T Kinnear

High Performance Counsel presents our second issue of #TopOfMind in association with ACEDS, The #Value Series and The Masters Conference. We additionally appreciate the commitment of the following organizations in making this essential thought-leadership possible:

EDT
MLA GLOBAL
Mplace
Ricoh
Tru Staffing
The Masters Conference
Clarilegal
ContractPodAi
Aceds
Mihca

“What is the single issue or consideration that is most pressing, significant and formative in and for the legal industry right now – together with your prescriptive opinion or pithy soundbite on its likely outcome, implications?”

Stephanie Corey

Managing a legal department really well means constantly assessing the “what” and “how” of the work being done in your department.  GCs should be asking the questions, “Is the work we’re currently doing true legal work?  If not, should this be done by the businesses, or should it be done at all?  And if it is legit legal work, is this a core competency we want to keep in the department or should we outsource this work or the entire function?  If we outsource, do we use a law firm or an alternative service provider?  And if we in-source, what’s the best possible way to do this work as efficiently as possible?


Co-founder & , General Partner, UpLevel Ops, LLC  | Co-founder, CLOC

Mark Yacano

We continue to talk about technological disruption  in the legal industry, yet we don’t talk enough about the need for talent.  Executing change management across an entire industry is painstakingly incremental and requires multi-disciplinary teams which include specialists in: legal, finance, operations, solutions architecture, project management and organizational development.  We must find ways to give internal people more training and to incent first-class from outside to come into the legal space.


Global Practice Leader – Managed Legal Services, Major, Lindsey & Africa

Doug Kaminski

Doug Kaminski

The news is full of predictions for change in the business of legal services.  Disruptive technologies, new entrants to the market, demand for legal process optimization, and ensuring that data integrity and security are solid are all important issues but detract from the main driver.  The lack of perceived value derived for the consumers of legal services is the driving force.

That said, this is more than just adopting new technology to automate certain tasks or solving for lowest cost option.  Much of the ethos of legal services and their delivery is changing to a value-based mindset that focuses on easier access and collaboration while providing the needed improvements in process to optimize results.

Our focus has been on working with clients to do exactly that and it shows in our diverse culture as well as our track record of great client service.  Let’s do some great things together!


Executive Vice President of Sales & Managing Director of CobrATX

Stephen Ward

The use of data; to enhance what we do and how we work with clients and to make our businesses more efficient, productive and sustainable.

As an industry, we need to get to grips with software and technology that uses Common APIs that allow us to share data securely and easily within our own and shared systems. This benefits our businesses but also clients and the justice system by using data and Common APIs to access and manage our clients effectively, share legal documents and payments securely, be clear on cost and allocate our resources effectively.

Global and secure data can also be utilised by Artificial Intelligence (specifically self-improving) software that has numerous operational benefits for the legal industry – for firms of all sizes.

 Without complete, updated, secure and commonly shared data, the UK legal industry just won’t be able to keep up with other sectors or international market disrupters. Legal solutions from human experts will always be our product but our data systems and software will give us the edge.


Managing Director, Clerksroom

Candice Corby

“In this global marketplace, I see diversity as one of the distinguishing factors of success.  Not only is it our social responsibility as global citizens to close the gender pay gap and increase the number of women and minorities in STEM (and specifically in the legal & eDiscovery services industry), diversity is good for business.

Numerous studies have proven shared expertise and ideas of diverse teams lead to greater bottom line results. Cobra Legal Solutions taps exceptional talent from around the globe offering opportunity to many under-served groups. The “Cobra Team” is the team of the future! We are 80% women, 88% lawyers, of an average age of 28 and are 99% diverse world-wide.”


Principal, Chief Executive Officer & President – Cobra Legal Solutions

Paula T. Edgar, Esq.

The most pressing and significant issue for the legal industry is the need to advance diversity, equity and inclusion from lip service to robust action. This is not just a moral imperative, this is a strategic, responsive and necessary step that needs to taken by every individual and institution. Our clients, consumers, and colleagues want the legal profession to be reflective of the communities we pledge to serve, however our efforts have been slow to create real change.  

For progress to occur, we must hold each other accountable and move from being bystanders to upstanders when we encounter bias (conscious and unconscious).   Workplace cultures that proactively seek inclusion and equity are less susceptible to the power and privilege issues that allow racism, sexism, homophobia, sexual harassment and other forms of bias and discrimination to thrive in our profession.  


Partner | Inclusion Strategy Solutions, LLC

Kenneth A. Grady

It is tempting to answer AI or productivity. But, the single most pressing issue facing us is the loss of confidence in the US as a rule of law country. As people and companies lose confidence, they get frustrated and seek self-help alternatives. Companies create private legal systems and individuals forego their rights. For example, defendants will accept plea bargains to felony charges, even when negotiating would have led to a misdemeanor charge. Frustrated people act out by looking for new approaches to addressing their problems, even when they do not recognize the full implications of the changes they seek. As the US loses its status as a rule of law country, it will lose business, people, and its voice in the world. Transforming the legal industry must include more than ways to improve efficiency, it must include ways to restore faith in the US legal system.


Adjunct Professor & Research Fellow | Michigan State University

Jared M Coseglia

Contract staffing augmentation is going to be the single biggest change for legal professionals, specifically legal technology professionals, over the next few years. For eDiscovery, privacy, and security pros, contract staffing constitutes almost 40% of the filled positions in today’s job market. Clients, whether law firm, corporation, vendor, or consulting firm, are adopting and valuing the ability to scale up and down as needed, and the talent pool is embracing the contract lifestyle as it provides more freedom, flexibility, and fascination for them in their day to day responsibilities. Sacrificing stability and the illusion of certainty for challenge, impact opportunity, and higher earning potential is driving the job seekers mind-set in legal and that is not going to change.


Founder & CEO, TRU Staffing Partners, Inc.

Mark A. Cohen

The legal industry must assume its position on the front lines defending democracy. If we do not marshal our collective expertise, energy, and strength in this “bet-our-way-of-life” issue, who will? This battle must be waged on multiple fronts– in the U.S., Europe, and around the world. The rule of law is being tested daily, and its erosion is already curtailing our hard-fought freedoms. Profit-per-partner, mergers, the decline of the billable hour, and legal tech grab industry headlines but this is what we should be focused on. #STORMRISING


CEO, Legal Mosaic; Distinguished Fellow, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.

Debbie Reynolds

A reckoning point is upon us in the legal industry as clients steer more business away from traditional legal providers and toward legal solution providers who understand the complexities of their businesses and can be in step with them on technology and costs.  Law firms or legal service providers who do not keep in step with their client in these new ways, will not be in business over the next 20 years. This revolution is not optional, it is a vital to the future of law and legal solutions.


Director, EimerStahl Discovery Solutions, llc & Data Privacy Officer, Eimer Stahl LLP

Sharon Nelson

Sharon D. Nelson

Recent and disturbing news:

Bloomberg BNA carried a story entitled “Big 4 Firms Plot Moves Into Global Niche Legal Markets.” The big four accounting firms are moving into the legal sector with increasingly aggression. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte LLP, Ernst & Young, and KPMG LLP are placing a laser focus on their British-based offices – and their lawyers – to win multinational clients.  

While the U.S. has been glacially slow in adopting alternative business structures (ABS), things are moving rapidly in the UK. PwC now has 2,500 attorneys globally, Deloitte has 2,000, EY has 2,100 and KPMG has 1,700.

All four firms have the same strategy – to exploit their international presence to provide a one-stop shop for global deals. A PcW spokesman said that the firm’s 2,500 lawyers makes PwC the sixth or seventh largest global law firm. The integrated services that the big four can offer are an added draw.

Remember the function of canaries in coal mines? I hear a canary singing now.


President Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Caleb H King

Caleb H King

“How to crack the status quo (and not being afraid to do so)”

Playing it safe is a decent strategy in stable markets – turning nice revenues for the Street and not raising eyebrows. The art, however, is in knowing when to break away – and not to run with the pack – in order to catch the winds of change in market conditions. It’s dangerous to get too comfortable. Anticipating this in the legal industry, Mplace’s software makes the leap from a manual staffing process designed in the 1920’s to one that is largely automated. The result is faster speed to hire, while reducing compliance risk and increasing ebitda. Data that is automatically collected provides business intelligence for improved buying and strategic decisions. What we offer is a tool that increases workplace productivity – allowing human effort to be focused on higher value-add activities. Some in the legal industry have been slow to adopt — those who have find our software lives up to its promise. So why is there reluctance to move away from the status quo?

This summer I’m reading  “Reinvent Your Business Model” by Mark W. Johnson, seeking insights to help solve this riddle. I welcome your thoughts as well – caleb@mplace.io

Joshua Lenon

Machine Learning, but not in the way you think. Most AI-based legaltech installations rely on the depth of a single source of data. Law firms think of themselves as islands, instead of an industry. True change in legal services will be when machine learning is applied broadly across law firms and legal professionals. Cloud-based practice management is already starting to apply big data analysis across tens of thousands of law firms. Once they start doing the same with machine learning, you’ll see 100% of lawyers capitalizing on the learnings and best practices derived from the best 10% in these systems. 


Lawyer in Residence | Clio

Mary Pat Poteet

Mary Pat Poteet

Privacy and CyberSecurity regulations will continue to be introduced, implemented and updated both nationally and internationally. Companies will struggle to keep up with the changes.  Proactive policies and procedures are essential to minimize exposure and secure information. Spending time, effort and money now will prevent disaster down the road.  And don’t believe the adage, “there is no such thing as bad publicity” Negative headlines will not boost business, especially if clients lose confidence.


Managing Consultant | Poteet Consulting LLC

Aileen A. Schultz

Aileen A. Schultz

Disruptive technologies, full scope. It is the advancements in technology, and the current and prospective uses throughout the industry, that is the impetus (perhaps arguably) for all true transformation. Beyond just the use and application of these technologies (blockchain, AI capabilities, cloud storage, and more) changing the infrastructural frameworks by which the business and practice of law operates, these technologies are also creating the demand for legislative change. In so far as practitioners can keep up with the way in which systems and the practice are changing, and the legislature can incorporate the necessary regulations and governance quick enough, the industry as a whole is (I believe) going to experience an incredibly positive outcome. Disruption is only negative when it is not coupled with progressive reformation.


Director of Network Intelligence, Integra Inc. and Co Founder, Global Organizer, Global Legal Hackathon.

Josefina McEvoy

Josefina McEvoy

“A seminal issue for the legal industry is the impact that AI-induced technology and automation are having on the delivery of legal services. The key determiners of such impact are lawyers’ ability to say “yes” to the universe of enabling technology, and understand where technology and a lawyer’s judgment intersect. Lawyers must extract the benefits of technology to assist clients achieve desired results like enhanced performance ratios, improved business processes, and increased cultural inclusion. The merger of lawyering, technology, and business processes would generate cashable savings for clients, with no diminution of a lawyer’s judgment, or quality of services, or a lawyer’s moral and ethical sensibilities. The legal industry, as one of the world’s oldest and most resilient, has been disrupted many times—most frequently by legislation, regulation, or judicial decree. It is the dawn of an approach to practicing law that requires leveraging technology to shape new legal markets.”


Chief Legal Officer of GreenSTOP Inc.

Max Paterson

Max Paterson

The status quo is changing across the legal industry. AI is putting significant pressure on the traditional model and offering enhanced ways of doing business and providing access to legal information in ways unimagined as recently as 6-12 months ago. With the speed that the world is changing, and the countless advancements being presented all at once, it is vital that we’re embracing changes as they come, and proactively finding ways to test and adopt these new models to ensure we’re moving with the future of law. The days ahead will not be as forgiving as the past has been for the industry’s slow movement.  


Co-FOUNDER | RightsNOW

Chuck Brooks

Chuck Brooks

In the legal community, data is a both a precious commodity and a vulnerable one. Because practices are often multi- office, multi-device, and usually under a minimal IT and HR budgets, they are target ripe for hackers.  Hacker methods include sophisticated phishing and ransomware that put sensitive records at risk. Firms urgently need to beef up their internal Cybersecurity expertise and employ updated cyber risk strategies to protect their data from growing attack surfaces.


Principle Market Growth Strategist | Cybersecurity

 Subha V. Barry

Subha V. Barry

Pay close attention to Multi-cultural women in the talent pool.  They are a well-educated and growing group that is vastly underrepresented in leadership roles.  Their ambition and desire exceeds that of their white counterparts and the main reason they lag if because of the lack of focus and attention to their unique capabilities.  Companies that step up and target their recruiting and development towards Black, Hispanic, Asian and other multicultural women will find hugs payoffs in the near future.


President of Working Mother Media.

Phuong Phillips

Phuong Phillips

We need to nurture an environment within the legal industry that encourages firms and companies to prioritize and promote an inclusive workforce. Individuals come from varying backgrounds and bring their own unique experiences and insights when providing legal advice. To connect with a wide range of clients who also share differing backgrounds, it is vital that we provide a platform for each individual’s perspective and background to shape the overall decision-making within the legal field. I currently work at an organization where a large portion of our customers are women, and we strive to increase our diversity to embody the types of experiences our customers seek. At a time where companies are celebrated for their differences and creativity, it is important that our legal industry embraces and follows this sentiment.


Chief Legal Officer | Zynga

Jennifer D. Silverman

Jennifer D. Silverman

The recent publicity about the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect has spurred many U.S. companies to truly pay attention to data privacy and security for the first time.  They are beginning to understand that failure to do so may result in hefty fines, liability and negative publicity that erodes customer trust and reduces the value of their brand and company.  However, the process of implementing an effective data governance program may appear too complicated, time consuming and expensive to pursue.  What can attorneys do to help make the process manageable and affordable for their clients?  Identify each client’s unique priorities and needs, prepare a plan of attack, and help the client execute each task by employing software solutions and partnering with technology consultants.


Partner, Head of Intellectual Property Department | Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP

Jean Rivers

Jean Rivers

“Over the years, even small advancements in legal technology have undoubtedly furthered the overall efficiency of the discovery process in litigation. While most legal professionals have accepted that collecting and reviewing data in electronic formats is a must it’s not enough. We have to strive to operate beyond minimum functionality as a matter of routine.

It’s imperative that we dive head first into the technological apprehensions of traditional data mindsets that create outdated discovery cultures and focus on ways to shift those mindsets and make them malleable to legal tech trends which create innovative, end to end eDiscovery processes that utilize and capitalize on maximum functionality and catapult the way the legal profession handles ESI into the tech savvy future.”


Director of Litigation Support | Berg & Androphy

Jonah Paransky

Jonah Paransky

The role of corporate legal departments is evolving rapidly with expectations of continual improvement and measurable value rather than just cost avoidance. This push for operational excellence is driving the increasing need for effective metrics and accurate data – changing the role of the legal operations organization. To address these challenges, many CLDs have begun evaluating new technologies like AI and machine learning. While still early in their evolution, success is being found when legal departments employ these technologies to solve core business problems and deliver meaningful ROI – such as improving billing guideline compliance and increasing billing accuracy by combining human expertise with AI technology. I see the application of these technologies expanding rapidly into every area of legalops.

Coupled with this is the expanded responsibility to secure sensitive information sharing between a significant number of vendors – including law firms, ALSPs and technology vendors – to ensure compliance with new regulations.


EVP & GM, Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions.

Jay Benegal

Jay Benegal

We live in a world where buyers are more aware than ever before. They are making more informed decisions today on the goods and services they are purchasing. The legal industry is not immune from this phenomenon. The global dollar value of legal work performed (per annum) is now hovering around the half trillion dollar mark – a number that is continuing to grow annually. However, this does not translate to more work for traditional law firms. Why? Because clients are in fact more value driven today and they are keen to find more cost effective ways to have their work performed. Whether its through generating their work product internally within the walls of their own institutions, or leveraging the talent of LPOs, clients have more choices today.

While there are many pressures on the modern day law firm model, the single biggest challenge lies in the law firm’s ability to continue increasing demand for their services.


Senior Vice President | Professionals Banking | Citizens Commercial Banking

Brian McGovern

Brian McGovern

#STORMRISING is a great symbol for the legal industry right now.  A storm doesn’t happen by chance, especially a big storm. It has to build in the right conditions and takes an amazing amount of energy to develop.

Today, legal is ready. The pieces are in place.  Technology is in place.  We have the tools to manage and analyze massive complex data sets deep understanding requires.  AI is growing into a value-creating partner with numerous applications.  The community is in place.  Strong groups of industry experts are defining standards and maturity curves.  Legal operations, risk working groups, and industry experts are converging.  Most importantly people are in place.  These people have the talent and expertise, and have earned their place at the table in corporations, and in their law firms.

The most pressing consideration now is how we will lead our organizations from good to great.  How will we move these pieces forward aggressively, but never recklessly?  As we witness #legalrising, there’s no stopping the #STORMRISING.


Executive Director, Strategic Programs

Fernando Garcia

Fernando Garcia

I think that the most pressing concerns and considerations right now relate to the threatened changes to the international legal and compliance frameworks within which companies operate. Uncertainty in trade negotiations and shifting state-level relationships have a profound effect in global investment decisions, supply chains, business immigration and numerous other applications. Like lawyers, businesses, investors and professionals seek certainty and security, but at this time we are in a time of global change and flux. This makes it critical that lawyers remain up to speed and with a finger on the pulse of these matters, so as to be able to provide clients with valid legal advice with regard to compliance and risk mitigation. Change and uncertainty can create opportunities, but they can also result in failure and loss of business. A good lawyer will help his/her clients navigate through this #STORMRISING and into long-term growth, profitability and success! 


VP, Legal at Cargojet

Dennis Garcia

Dennis Garcia

“In my opinion the most pressing issue facing the legal industry right now is the need for our profession to be more open to change and embracing greater digital transformation so that we can better serve our valued clients. Increasingly our clients expect more from us and leveraging leading technology and assets like cloud computing, data, artificial intelligence, social media, etc….can enable all lawyers to achieve more, be more productive, collaborate better and deliver higher-value/higher-impact legal services to our clients.”


Assistant General Counsel | Microsoft Corporate, External & Legal Affairs (CELA)

Zeke Hughes

Zeke Hughes

The status quo is changing across the legal industry. AI is putting significant pressure on the traditional model and offering enhanced ways of doing business and providing access to legal information in ways unimagined as recently as 6-12 months ago. With the speed that the world is changing, and the countless advancements being presented all at once, it is vital that we’re embracing changes as they come, and proactively finding ways to test and adopt these new models to ensure we’re moving with the future of law. The days ahead will not be as forgiving as the past has been for the industry’s slow movement.  


RightsNOW

Jo Sherman

Jo Sherman

It’s time to stop treating AI like some mysterious black box that threatens our very existence. It is not science fiction. It has no sinister, ulterior motive. It’s just technology. Software and algorithms. That’s it. And, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It needs to be integrated and deployed alongside traditional, proven technology – like good old fashioned databases and transactional systems. Machine Learning is one of many new technologies we can use to develop innovative solutions to real world problems but it’s important not to view it as a silver bullet that replaces all that has come before it. To achieve quantum leaps forward AI needs to be integrated into traditional established software stacks and data pipelines to augment proven code and existing capabilities and it must leverage “Human-In-The-Loop” expertise at just the right time to do the things the algorithms can’t do.

In light of the prevailing hype, now more than ever, it’s important to focus on defining the problem that needs to be solved before thinking about a technology solution. AI will likely have a role to play in most systems of the future but it’s still just one cog in the engine when it comes to deploying and supporting real world systems. 


CEO & Founder | EDT

Suzanne Clark

Suzanne Clark

Staying relevant. The world is rapidly changing due to tech. Attorneys need to consider that our clients, whether they are individuals or companies, are sophisticated. Clilents are integrating technology into their lives and businesses, and they expect us not only to understand how tech impacts their legal issues, but also to utilize technology ourselves to provide efficient and effective legal representation. In other words, attorneys and law firms need to be as good at managing our law practices and matters as our clients are at managing their businesses.

Staying relevant isn’t only tech related. It also means adding value compared to the evolving competition in the legal marketplace. Competition that comes anywhere from non-lawyer legal service providers, like companies offering on-line legal forms, to artificial intelligence, to the wealth of information generally available on the internet that enables potential clients to represent themselves.

Distinguishing oneself to stay relevant can mean integrating efficiencies, like coming up with innovative fee arrangements, and implementing processes, like utilizing a law practice management system. It means saying “yes, my time is worth hundreds of dollars per hour, but I need to implement processes, integrate efficiencies, and utilize technologies to provide my legal services to my clients in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. So that my clients receive the most value for their legal spend and I quickly move onto the next issue or matter.”

Outcome – I envision that the lawyers who are willing to evolve in their method of practicing law will thrive, whereas lawyers who cling to the more traditional methods will see their practices flounder.


Discovery Counsel | eDiscovery CoCounsel, pllc

Mary Mack

Mary Mack

After attending my first pure tech conference in decades, I am struck by the ease of connecting platforms for interactivity.  I am taken aback by the scale of shared credentials to access secure systems.  GDPR, 2018’s version of Y2K, is being baked into products at a rapid rate.  While it may not be marketed as eDiscovery, tech platforms are searching, ranking, OCRing, deduplicating, REGEXing, coding, producing, redacting and removing–all in a well documented and hash coded protocol.  The IT-ing of eDiscovery will bring a mass of new entrants into legal. 


Executive Director | ACEDS

Rajitha Boer

Rajitha Boer

“Start with the desired outcome in mind.  People have to get their heads wrapped around what to do with all the technology that’s now available to legal…beyond the hype. We’ve got to be practical. You’ve got to figure out what outcome you want to achieve and definitely leverage technology, but only in a way that is efficient and practical. It’s not just a matter of flipping a switch (buying a piece of kit). Getting overly excited about the latest tech without a proper plan can be as bad as running on spreadsheets.”


Founder | Yerra Solutions

Drew Stern

Drew Stern

To AI or not to AI, that is the question.

AI in law is all the buzz… Will it, or won’t it, take over for lawyers? Yet the true answer isn’t actually bifurcated into ‘will it or won’t it.’

The answer is this- AI will serve to compliment lawyers. Machine learning will enhance and augment lawyers’ abilities and help them deliver higher quality and cost savings to clients. With AI, attorneys will be able to do more, focus more and lawyer better.

So, how can you be apart of this AI revolution? Try new tools and be apart of the innovation. Technology advances come from a dance between technologists and practitioners, the same is true for LegalTech. Test AI-driven tools, make recommendations on how they can be improved. I assure you, you will benefit from being apart of how those tools are built and refined for law.


CEO & Co-Founder | Esquify

Andy Daws

Andy Daws

Two words: Digital and Transformation.

Digital” because despite some unhelpful hype in the legal tech space recently, the fact remains that we live in an increasingly tech and data-driven world. Computers continue to climb the value curve, augmenting human intelligence and in some cases even exceeding it.

“Transformation” because many of the industry’s structural, economic and delivery models are in need of a drastic overhaul, having been underinvested and overprotected for many years. Pursuing progress in either of these areas is a step in the right direction, but exponential gains will be enjoyed by those who embrace both and can remain agile. The extent to which traditional law firms can adapt remains to be seen, but is probably a moot point (unless you’re in one!) because in this new paradigm the customer is calling the shots and it’s never been more true that what the customer wants, the customer gets. The good news is there’s already an increasing number of options for “better, faster, cheaper” and this is only the first act!


Chief Customer Officer | Kim Technologies

Peter J. Borella

Peter J. Borella

“The single most pressing issue for the legal industry is finding ways to effectively integrate artificial intelligence and analytics to reduce cost and better manage growing and diverse data sets. And as technology improves, the roles of attorneys and support professionals will continue to evolve.”


Director | Trustpoint.One

Cash Butler

Cash Butler

How do you accurately define and measure value when consuming or delivering legal services when working in a very opaque vertical market?

Is understanding and consuming or providing true, measurable value possible or is this a pipe dream?  I am confident that value can be defined, measured and managed with communication, transparency and technology.


Founder | ClariLegal

Susan Hackett, CEO

Susan Hackett

Top of Mind for me are two issues that are inter-related: the first is that the legal services market is not in need of “innovation” or bold, creative practices: it’s in need of a remedial education in the same business practices that corporate clients use to run their daily operations (only lawyers would suggest that automating basic functions or lean efficiency is “innovation” in 2018); so I say stop talking about innovation (which intimidates many and excludes most) and start talking about simply deploying tried and true smarter ways to work. The second is related to the first, because when you strip the “innovation” jargon from the criteria for success, you find that the legal teams moving change initiatives toward implementation and re-engineering their practices are not mostly big law firms or big legal departments: they’re smaller, more agile, more motivated law firms, service providers and legal departments who must drive greater efficiency since they lack leverage.  The top leaders in the profession today are the movers, not the shakers.


CEO | Legal Executive Leadership, LLC  |  http://www.lawexecs.com

Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin

The battle between laboring and lawyering. Solo and small-firm attorneys are the heart of the legal industry, and they face a major daily dilemma: Either 1) Answer interrupting calls and emails from leads and grow the business, or 2) Miss calls and emails from leads and stay productive on existing client work. Law school doesn’t teach you to run a business, and good practice management involves more than purchasing the right software. 2 of 3 potential clients say their “decision to hire” is most influenced by an attorney’s responsiveness to their first call or email. So, which option should you choose? The 3rd: Outsourcing routine communications to an integrated call routing & virtual receptionist service like Smith.ai. This is not your parents’ low-tech, call answering service. AI-driven, fully customized lead-qualification and intake workflows, API integrations, and more result in high-impact, low-cost efficiency gains that yield more clients, fewer interruptions, and improved work/life balance.


Head of Marketing & Partnerships | Smith.ai

Rob C. Zirnstein

Rob Zirnstein

In this Big Data world, where companies are storing sensitive information, you need to figure out what you have before you can decide on how to protect it.  Life Insurance, Business Insurance and Cyber Insurance are proactive solutions to reduce one’s risk.  Lawyers (especially those in eDiscovery) are often acting reactively.  I believe that you increase your value to your clients, when you are proactive and when you empower your clients to be proactive.

The current risks are Data Leaks and Data Loss.  You can look in all the places that employees are told to save their work documents in, but what about all the hidden “Dark Data” that they forgot about or don’t even know about?

  • Cell Phones
  • Tablets
  • Notebook PCs
  • PCs outside the company’s Document Management & Backup systems
  • Personal Data collected by service providers (on our devices)
  • PII outside your encrypted umbrella
  • Sensitive files still floating around, after you thought you deleted them

Clients need to be advised on solutions to find, redact and preserve their valuable data that can pose a risk to them and their customers.  A simple example is to Backup all data, and only be out a days worth of work when an extortion attack hits.  As simple as that sounds, many companies don’t bother, and find themselves out of business from a single attack.  As their trusted advisor, lawyers are in a key position to help them fill this hole.  I see a trend where some forward looking lawyers are taking the initiative to learn about Cyber Security and Data Privacy.  Appreciate these colleagues, and utilize their expertise to benefit your clients.

World “Data” War 3 is coming, it will enter through the Internet or your employees, and you can be the hero by equipping your clients proactively.  Data Privacy is an endangered species.


Dark Data Scientist | Forensic Innovations, Inc

Erica V Mason

Erica V Mason

I’ve been a proud big law firm lawyer my entire career, yet I feel like majority stakeholder in Blockbuster video circa 2008. With all of the talk of the tech-driven sea changes coming to the profession, and despite Big Law’s apparent buy-in to the idea of “innovate or die,” I am convinced that most don’t comprehend the enormous mental shift needed in order for us to avoid complete annihilation. Here’s why:

  1. Technology is changing the way we do things at such an exponential rate, that the majority of people are not mentally or emotionally equipped to keep pace.
  2. The concepts of change and innovation are antithetical to the lawyer code. Precedence and tradition are programmed into our lawyer-DNA, and we are indoctrinated to believe that we must navigate the world in the most conservative, risk averse manner possible.
    AMLAW 500 firms are run by people who would arguably be working against their own self-interest to strategically plan more than 5 years out, and who are hyperfocused on the ubiquitous 12-month profits-per-partner metric.
  3. The traditional law firm business model isn’t equipped to deal with the fact that technology (apps, programs, online platforms, legal project management systems, and the hardware required to run them) is an expensive investment that takes time to develop, learn, utilize, and commoditize in any meaningful way. And once you get it right, technology will have advanced so much again, you must either start over or be bumped by some new mover waiting in the wings for version 2.0.
  4. Most alarming, the majority of students in law school today are receiving training for a job that likely won’t exist in 10-15 years; and we currently have no means of preparing ourselves for the law jobs of the future.

Law firms must shift their focus to adaptability and developing change management strategies in order to survive. In the meantime, I’ll be busy moving my assets into Netflix stock. #STORMRISING


Partner in the Atlanta Office of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Otto Miguel Hanson

Otto Miguel Hanson

A lot of fire-power is being directed at helping businesses and law firms more efficiently track and process large volumes of contracts.  Very little is being directed at helping consumers understand what they’re agreeing to when they click “I Accept” hundreds of times every year.  The next big leap will take the technological advances that have been developed in the B2B space and leverage them in a way that improves access to justice for consumers.

Associate in the Finance & Acquisitions Department |  Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP

Catherine Krow

Catherine Krow

Disaggregation of legal work.  The idea that one firm will handle a large matter soup-to-nuts is all but dead.  The firms that remain focused on the strategic work and will freely outsource the more routine elements of practice (e.g., you don’t have to go to Yale Law to make a witness kit!) are best positioned for the future.   


Founder and CEO |  Digitory Legal.

Alma Asay

Alma Asay

The most pressing, significant and formative issue for the legal industry right now is data – who owns it and who will own it, what’s being gathered and what’s gatherable, and what no-longer-disputable truths will arise from it. In my opinion, the organizations that truly understand how data as a commodity of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has affected other industries and successfully adopt that model into legal will become the “Google”s and “Amazon”s of the legal industry – including being so far ahead that it will be seemingly impossible for the followers to catch up.

Chief Innovation Officer, Legal Solutions | Integreon Managed Solutions

Sarvarth Misra

Sarvarth Misra

The most pressing, significant and formative issue for the legal industry right now is data – who owns it and who will own it, what’s being gathered and what’s gatherable, and what no-longer-disputable truths will arise from it. In my opinion, the organizations that truly understand how data as a commodity of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has affected other industries and successfully adopt that model into legal will become the “Google”s and “Amazon”s of the legal industry – including being so far ahead that it will be seemingly impossible for the followers to catch up.

Co-Founder & CEO | ContractPodAi

Ekumene Lysonge

Ekumene Lysonge

As more companies migrate data to the “cloud” the challenges posed by cybersecurity and data breaches continue to intensify. Our industry has an important role to play in helping organizations defend against data breaches, develop incident response plans and guide companies should a breach occur. As breaches become larger and more complex, so too do the challenges for affected companies. States continue to revise and expand data breach notification obligations, with new requirements coming on line each year. Costs continue to rise across the board, both in the preparation and mitigation of the impact, of what is today a likely occurrence. Today, the question is no longer whether data will be compromised, it is instead how extensive the breach will be and how prepared is the enterprise to withstand the impact (to financial results and brand).

Vice President & General Counsel | CafePress Inc.

Peter Nguyen

Peter Nguyen

“Transformation of the legal industry to facilitate greater access to efficient and cost effective legal services.  To achieve this, lawyers need to be open to re-imagining their role and place in the ecosystem. Lawyers can no longer hang onto their traditional role as gatekeeper – determining who gets to participate and who gets access. Rather, they should use their skills and training to become a better shepherd – guiding, advising and directing consumers of legal services to the appropriate, cost-effective, efficient source based on the options available today  (e.g. lawyer, paralegal, or legal technology provider).  They should also be looking forward to see how to leverage the latest technologies (blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence) can also assist in this pursuit both in the present and the future.”


General Counsel, Corporate Secretary & Privacy Officer | Resolver

David Perla

David Perla

For law firms, secular revenue generation and management will be issue #1.  In the decade since the great recession, firms have increased profitability by solving cost control on a secular basis, controlling or managing spend in technology, real estate, information and to some extent talent.  The good news is that firm revenues are rising. The bad news is that this is largely due to cyclical increases in both demand and willingness to bear billing rate increases, resulting primarily from a strong economy.  In the next downturn – and thereafter — with limited profitability improvement to be generated on the cost side, firms will need to find secular ways to increase revenue and drive new business (and therefore profitability, through technology, capital deployment, market and wallet share increases, and even new law firm equity models.  This will take place in a context of clients (law department and other clients) that have mastered their own cost management techniques, and that will be relentless in continuing to drive their partners’ efficiency up and their internal costs down.


Managing Director | Burford Capital

Alan Bryan

Alan Bryan

Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who survive but those who can best manage change.”  Rapid change is acting on the slow-to-change legal profession.  Alternative service providers, technology, “The Big Four,” work moving inhouse, disaggregation, and reduced corporate legal budgets are a few things putting pressure on the traditional law firm business model.  The changes will affect law firms but also have a disparate impact on a generation of lawyers.  As certain “associate work” goes away, a training, skills, and experience gap could develop.  To help prevent this gap, legal academia should supplement curriculum to incorporate more business, operational, and practical training.  The profession should consider apprenticeships. Law firms should re-examine the business model, incorporate technology and non-lawyer employees, end the “profits per partner” obsession, move away from a time-affiliated “value” proposition, and use diverse teams to help clients manage risk and move business forward.  Lawyers have always been the “strongest or most intelligent” – now let’s see how they manage change.


General Counsel, Corporate Secretary & Privacy Officer | Resolver

David Greetham

David A. Greetham

Because of the large increases in the volume of data (business documents, connected devices and social media) required to go through the eDiscovery process, FRCP amendments called for more proportionality. The challenge in my mind is that proportionality is defined by the individual judges and there appears to be no firm understanding of what should be considered proportionate in the eDiscovery arena. Ambiguity is the only certainty. We need to gain more clarity on what proportionate really is, whether that’s a percentage of the claims at stake, an agreement at the start of the legal process, or perhaps some other well defined criteria.


Vice President of eDiscovery | Ricoh Legal

Scott Mozarsky

Scott Mozarsky

The single issue that is most pressing for the legal industry right now is change management.  There has been a tremendous amount of technical innovation and business model disruption that has occurred over the last few years that enables law firms to deliver more value to their clients than ever before.  However, the large majority of clients still face too many obstacles to gaining access to justice and to availing themselves of the benefits of all the innovative and disruptive forces in the market.  In order for the market to function in a more efficient manner, lawyers and their clients need to be open to doing things differently and to recognize that only by embracing change and innovation will they become more successful. 


Managing Director | Vannin Capital

Kevin Gidney

Kevin Gidney

“Data, its use, its security, its tracking and audit and the bias of models. The new systems of today using ML can only learn from the data provided to them, and if that data is bias in some way, it will be shown in the models. As such corporations and law firms are going to need a broader access to information so bias can be avoided. However in doing so you also incur the possibility of deliberate bias and or hacking. To add to this is the issue of ownership and allowed use of the information and its outcome. As we move forward firms are going to need to present auditable model creation and the ability for users or customers to assess where the data they provided is used, and allow for its removal if they are unwilling to participate. Until now this has largely been ignored, but data is the most valuable asset any company has, and its use should be controlled and managed by each entity. Much like a users facebook information, it is used in many different ways today, and tomorrow we cannot predict its use. So as we get more legislation on where, how and who can access and use information, firms are going to need methods to continue to effectively train, track, audit and report on its use, and allow for it to be securely used from many firms or companies to reduce or remove bias.”


Co-Founder, Chief Technical Officer | Seal Software

Laura Maechtlen

Laura Maechtlen

Nearly every type of legal services provider is grappling with short and long term strategy for how to manage their strategic positioning in the market in two ways – in the delivery of legal services, and the traditional practice of law.  The two are distinct concepts.  Indeed, corporations and law firms are increasingly looking at the overall delivery of legal service beyond the practice of law, including ways they can leverage team, techniques and technology used to get work done.  While there will always be a segment of the legal “buy” in which corporations pay for “bespoke” legal work, that is only one small part of the much broader scope of work on the plates of corporations and law firms alike.  The focus on broader legal services in the industry has enormous significance to competition in the legal market and provides an opportunity for new entrants into the market, including the Big Four.  In the coming years, it will take vigilance and increased effort by incumbent law firms to remain competitive vis-à-vis other service providers who are able to comprehensively address the challenges of business by providing business-focused solutions.


Partner | Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Owen Byrd

Owen Byrd

Clients are demanding that attorneys practice data-driven law by applying legal analytics. Litigators who fail to understand the behaviors of judges, parties, and opposing counsel, and make data-driven decisions based on those insights, do so at their peril. Transactional lawyers who fail to use data to determine “what is market” for key deal terms put their clients at competitive disadvantage. The business and practice of law is being transformed by data. The key question for lawyers is: Will you add analytics to your legal tool kit? Or will you fall behind?


Chief Evangelist & General Counsel | Lex Machina

Joe Tiano

Joe Tiano

Attorneys, and really law firms in particular, need to embrace the new world order that is reshaping the competitive landscape in the legal industry.   Disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence, data driven lawyering, alternative service providers and other new entrants into a historically static industry are gaining momentum with tsunami-like force.   The winners in the legal industry are going to ride the innovation wave incorporating innovation into their practices; the losers will fight the innovation wave and get crushed by it.


Founder and Chief Executive Officer | Legal Decoder