Quote of the Week
“Getting people used to being at the top of their personal silo to instead be a piece of an enterprise is a challenge no law firm I know has accomplished effectively.” (Patrick Lamb)
Three Articles Worth Reading
- Key excerpt: “An equally promising technology whose potential can be overlooked amid all the AI hype is data analytics. Data analytics is offering real utility and value to legal practitioners right now. Legal analytics power better decision-making in a number of legal practice areas such as patent and trademark law, copyright, securities, antitrust, and commercial litigation…. Legal analytics is also being used to help firms improve the ways they approach the business of law. It does so by providing factual data from millions of litigation records about the behavior and performance of law firms and individual lawyers—including data points like win rates, cases with resolutions, time to injunction, etc., in specific areas of law. Analytics can also be used to track broad industry trends relevant to activities like strategic planning, business development, and marketing.”
- Why it matters: While AI gets all the hype, it is imperative that firms don’t lose sight of other opportunities to improve their legal services offerings. Many of these opportunities can be accomplished without novel technologies. Increased use of Microsoft Excel (a program that was released in the 1980s) can allow lawyers to learn more about their clients, their competitors and their business. Of course, AI tools may provide simpler, better solutions to analyze data, but the point is that the technology to analyze legal data has been available to the masses for decades. The challenge is that without sufficient data, it is nearly impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions. Lawyers need to rethink the ways that they capture and provide data. While technology may be part of a solution, the first step is re-examining existing processes to identify areas of improvement.
- Key excerpt: “Legal tech solves many problems. Almost all lawyers could, if motivated, find a way to use tech to improve their efficiency to deliver more value to clients. The most valuable use of tech depends on what a specific lawyer wants to accomplish. For some, it might be older tech such as a Word macro pack or document assembly. For others, it might be the most advanced AI. It depends on needs and what a lawyer currently uses. Focusing on a specific tech risks magical thinking: this new [fill in the blank] will fix all my problems. I’d rather encourage lawyers to consider their specific challenges and needs and search for the right solution to them.” (Ron Friedmann)
- Why it matters: There is a temptation to simply use technology for a problem without first thinking of the problem to be solved. Part of the difficulty is that purchasing technology is easy – you simply throw money at a legal tech company and you now have an AI solution that allows your firm to claim that they are tech-savvy and client-focused. But the reality is, without an understanding of how a tool fits into a particular process for delivering legal services, a firm is unlikely to unlock the real value of the tool (or even worse, it risks wasting money that could otherwise be spent elsewhere). Prudent firms need to be continually evaluating legal technology on the market – that’s a given. But the real challenge lies in identifying areas for process improvement prior to identifying solutions. Some of those solutions may be off-the-shelf legal tech products; some may be products that the firm decides it needs to build in-house (or in conjunction with a legal tech company); and others may simply be a change in process without the need for additional technology spending. But a failure to analyze existing processes – a concept that is novel for many lawyers – is a big mistake.
- Key excerpt: “Together, they spent time process mapping what Mishcon’s lawyers do to interpret leases and, crucially, what the clients do with the lease summaries provided by their lawyers. It turned out that much of the data the firm sent to its clients was left sitting in PDF documents in the GC’s office. That meant the client’s lease administration team had to do their own lease abstraction exercise to populate the lease management tools they rely on. So, there was an opportunity for Mishcon to provide sets of structured lease data which could be uploaded directly into the lease management tools. And because clients trusted Mishcon to extract data accurately, they were happy to accept those structured datasets – which led Mishcon to seek ways to do the work quickly and effectively using technology…. This approach shifts what lawyers do from a narrow and data intensive task to a broader, more analytic task. Lawyers can focus on higher value tasks and have a better ability to advise based on a more comprehensive view of the data.”
- Why it matters: Here’s a great example of a firm identifying a problem and then finding a solution, rather than simply throwing money at technology with the hopes that it solves a problem. Mishcon De Reya, a U.K. law firm, recognized that there were ways to improve their delivery of real estate legal services. But instead of simply assuming that they knew what one of their clients wanted, Mishcon De Reya process mapped their own processes and then the client’s processes. The key here is that Mishcon De Reya didn’t assume that they knew what was best for their clients. Rather, they worked together to understand how one of their clients was using the information provided by the firm’s lawyers. This is a great example of true client-centric service: understanding a client’s pain points and then working together to provide a better solution. If firms don’t understand the processes their clients are using, then they are simply hoping that their innovative solutions will make their clients happier. Opening up the lines of communication between client and firm is critical to uncovering opportunities for innovation or identifying simple ways to tweak processes. The potential benefits of this approach are obvious: new revenue streams, increased client satisfaction and greater client retention.