Just in case the weather kills your plans to drink, BBQ and surf your way through the holiday weekend, I suggest you download a copy of ILTA‘s new study: Legal Technology Future Horizons, Strategic Imperatives for the Law Firm of the Future (PDF). From the (seven page) executive summary:
At the legal industry level, they have highlighted six critical issues:
- An accelerating pace of technology disruption and diffusion with the associated challenges of learning to manage rapid systems change and embrace the strategic potential of IT
- Responsiveness to client needs around value, speed, innovation and security
- Industry level forces such as intensifying competition, changing firm structures, business models, new entrants and a heightened talent agenda
- The impacts of consumerization, commoditization, automation and the pursuit of optimal firm scale
- Responsiveness to the opportunity and competitive challenges presented by emerging economies
- The pursuit of differentiation in the face of continuous change
And while the report was written with the global or large firm in mind, how can any firm, of any size, in any location not take note of the following:
While IT advances are expected to permeate and transform every aspect of law firm activity, four core themes emerge: The Client Is the Priority We must focus IT investments on securing and enhancing customer relationships. Strategic priorities must include quality of insight and advice, speed, responsiveness, flexibility, enhancing the capability and efficiency of professional staff and the capacity for innovation. Operationally, client demand is expected to focus on clarity of progress and budget reporting, providing real-time visibility of legal workflow, improving collaboration, integrating with client systems and building intelligence into systems to add insight and value and reduce the level of human involvement required. Leverage Lawyers We must enhance the productivity, strategic insight and impact of lawyers. At the most basic level, they need to perform from anywhere at any time on a range of personal devices that could emerge over time. Next, we must build intelligence into lawyer support to anticipate and provide the content they need when they need it — from analyzing critical information to presenting in court. Artificial Intelligence will play a major role in learning how lawyers work, personalizing the support and gradually automating many of the tasks historically performed by professionals. Re-Engineer Processes We must take a process- and project-management approach to all work undertaken. Workflows must be streamlined, broken down to discrete tasks to be allocated to the lowest cost resource that can complete them — a lawyer, outsourced service partner or intelligent system. This will accelerate the commoditization of many tasks and could reshape the legal value chain as more low value tasks are parceled out to external providers. This in turn will drive the firm to focus on developing new, value-adding higher-fee services. Innovate to Differentiate As a greater scope and volume of work is automated and the price gets driven down, firms must focus on using IT to generate and support client-focused innovation. This may be the development of new products and services, taking on activities traditionally performed in-house by the client and moving up the value chain into areas such as new product development. For example, as clients enter new markets with technology solutions like driverless cars, these will be highly disruptive and will require new thinking in areas such as risk and liability. Increasingly intelligent products might even have laws embedded; for example, cars could fine us for exceeding the speed limit. Law firms will need to use IT to help develop early warning systems that alert them to the emergence of such new ideas. Leaders will seek to gain a “first mover advantage” by approaching the innovators and becoming involved from the product design stage.
If you are interested in having a conversation on the study, turns out we have some June Gloom headed my way … so feel free to post in the comments below or join us over at the LME. We’re talking 140 pages of good stuff here.