Market forces are beginning to push law firm IT functions to manage in a more complex environment, but also to continuously evolve and enhance the enablement of practice delivery. Attorneys are more mobile and more connected. Clients are more demanding, with more data, integration and interactions. Technology is evolving at a faster pace with more alternatives and complexity. And competition for IT talent is accelerating, not only across horizontal technology domains but across industries.
Law firm spending on technology continues to grow faster than other categories of firm operations and is now the third-largest area of overhead spending, behind only salaries and occupancy expenses, according to the 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market by Managing Partner Forum.
The number-one law firm IT challenge heading into 2019 had nothing to do with acquiring bigger servers or faster networks. The top law firm IT issue for this year was the strategic challenge of change management, according to the International Legal Technology’s Association 2018 Legal Technology Survey.
After a slow start to embrace the idea of using a “hosted” model for managing software applications and client data, law firms have accelerated their adoption of this model in recent years. More than 54% of lawyers reported using a cloud platform last year to host client data, according to the American Bar Association’s 2018 Technology Survey.
The Summit on Legal Innovation and Disruption (SOLID) held in London on November 7 provided a view into the rate of transformation, primarily from the lens of the UK and Europe. The action-packed, daylong event included 15 TED-style talks and “fireside chats” (sans the fire), along with brainstorming sessions among the participants. SOLID London 2018 was produced by The Cowen Group in association with Baker McKenzie. HBR Consulting was one of several partnership sponsors. The aim of each Summit is to gather legal professionals for an exchange of ideas about the intersection of innovation, advanced technology and the business of law. Most of the attendees and speakers at the London forum were EMEA-based corporate counsel, providing a unique view into innovation in law departments outside the United States.
Data science and analytics are relatively new to the legal industry. While companies across almost all sectors are investing heavily in analytics, legal organizations are very much in the early stages of learning and adoption.
That situation is changing, however. Through the work we have done with clients and as we observed at ILTACON 2018 and other industry gatherings, there is tremendous interest in legal analytics. HBR Consulting is beginning to see new, creative uses emerge and an expansion in the field of play for analytics in law. The reasons for change are many but expanding business expectations for law departments, an increasingly competitive landscape for law firms (including new non-firm competitors) and the noticeable adoption outside the legal industry are three drivers of note.
With the rise of new compliance laws like GDPR in Europe, California’s new privacy requirements and other increased privacy scrutiny, as well as well-publicized law firm data breaches, it is understandable that law firms are feeling even more pressure to take steps to reduce their risk profile and triple-check that their data is safe. CIOs are looking at all aspects of security, including how systems can be breached or how data can be shared inadvertently. If you are working on 2018 data protection commitments made to your firm’s upper management, we wanted to make sure you are aware of a tool that can bolster the effects of your data loss prevention (DLP) solution: DLP Tagger.
Law departments are eager to make use of legal analytics technology to better manage their spend and help guide other decisions. According to HBR’s 2017 Law Department Survey of 300 U.S. and global law departments, nearly half of all respondents reported already having legal spend analytics technology, and 24 percent planned to adopt in the next two years. But once the decision is made to implement new or updated legal analytics technology, what is the best way to do it? Law departments have two options: develop it themselves or engage an outside provider.
During my recent visit to Denver for the 2018 Aderant Momentum conference, I noticed a common theme as I interacted with attendees at the conference: Many law firm leaders are currently questioning the effectiveness of their financial reporting systems.
One of the most exciting parts of my job as head of Software Solutions at HBR Consulting is that daily, I get to speak to successful law firm and corporate legal leaders about trends and topics influencing their industry.