Legal technology professionals and attorneys recently flooded New York for the annual Legaltech conference. Attendees spent their days listening to the keynote addresses, participating in breakout sessions, networking, catching up with old friends, and learning about new products in the exhibit hall. With so many options offered, everyone was able to take some valuable knowledge (and fun memories) back to the office.
This year, the themes that emerged all seemed to have one thing in common: more and more legal professionals are using automation to improve their practice and keep a competitive edge. Here are some of the buzzworthy themes that surfaced at the conference:
1. The need for lawyers to learn IT skills
Gone are the days of lawyers claiming ignorance about technology usage. By now, virtually every lawyer uses email and other electronic aids as staples in their daily practice. However, the industry is now seeing the growing importance for legal practitioners to understand certain information technology (IT) skills in order to thrive in the digital world. In fact, many people are calling for IT education to begin as early as law school so new lawyers will be prepared for the electronic component of practice. IT education should also be continual because of the rapid rate that technology evolves today.
Legal professionals commonly use solutions with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to help with eDiscovery review. This technology has become increasingly popular among litigators because it can review and identify relevant discovery documents quickly and efficiently. By learning IT skills, lawyers can use these solutions effectively and be able to explain operational features to clients and the court. Having the ability to train and code these programs in-house also cuts down on outsourcing expenses.
2. How AI is transforming legal practice
From eDiscovery, to contract review, to legal analytics, AI is storming the legal community. Many lawyers already use technology-assisted review (TAR) programs to sort through massive discovery projects. However, AI is becoming so dynamic that these solutions can now help lawyers in virtually any area of practice that deal with large and complex data sets. AI technology is so innovative because it does much more than review – instead, these programs can understand legal data and provide lawyers with information and trends they can use to decrease risk and make better informed case decisions.
More AI solutions are now offering customizable options geared towards a firm’s specific needs. After a lawyer targets problem areas, they can use special made AI solutions to analyze the issues. This helps firms quickly resolve and evaluate difficult tasks, while formulating strategies that can help strengthen their business.
3. Creating a business plan for embracing AI
Before integrating AI into practice, legal professionals should research what would work best for them and create a comprehensive business plan. If a litigation firm thinks AI could help streamline their eDiscovery practices, they should explore some key questions:
What are the firm’s overall goals? This could include decreasing costs and manpower spent on tasks that they could automate.
Is there capability to train and use the AI program in-house or would outsourcing be a better option?
Would a standard or customizable solution work better?
What are the projected cost savings?
Would using AI decrease risk and improve outcomes?
These are just a few questions to ponder when deciding whether to use AI and how to implement a successful and profitable program. Lawyers should spend a lot of time creating their business plan to make the best choices. While this innovative technology can be extremely useful, it may not be ideal for everyone and will require a tailored approach for each firm. Risk, cost, and projected business effects are the most important factors to include in an organization’s business plan that is focused on choosing the most suitable eDiscovery methods.
4. Keeping informed about new sources of ESI
Lawyers have come along way since eDiscovery emerged. However, the fact of the matter is that new technology and communication methods pop up daily. This becomes challenging when determining what to request and disclose during discovery. A major obstacle is keeping up with what sources qualify as electronically stored information (ESI). From communication apps to fitness trackers and smart appliances, there are numerous potential ESI sources that lawyers need to consider during the eDiscovery process. The fact that most lawyers and judges are taking steps to understand and accept the rapid evolution of new technology makes it easier to identify and discuss ESI sources.
5. The importance of cloud security measures
Legal professionals commonly use the cloud to conduct their business. Cloud solutions are ideal in this industry because lawyers are always on the go and need access to their files from remote locations. However, security is an ongoing concern. An unsecure cloud leads to the possibility of a data breach. As such, some lawyers are still weary of using cloud to store super sensitive information. Understanding the security and encryption methods that a specific cloud solution utilizes is something all lawyers and firms should do before using them. Another important consideration is whether the provider has access to the data. The good news is that many are very secure and there is always the option to use different storage methods or contact providers about any security concerns.
This article was first published on Epiq blog page