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How Law Firms are Leading the Next Wave of Innovation in Legal Tech

Faces of Innovation

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.”

                                         --Mark Weiser, Chief Scientist and Chief Technology Officer of Xerox PARC

The eDiscovery field has a long history of innovation that’s taken place on many fronts, something we’re intimately familiar with. The Nuix software that legal teams use today can process and index hundreds of files types in dozens of languages more rapidly and accurately than ever before. Attorneys can then analyze these documents using keyword search, concept clustering, data visualizations, machine learning, and predictive analytics—all from in the same interface, alone or in combination—quickly and easily. What used to be novel is now an everyday occurrence.

Cloud computing and the economics of Software as a Service (SaaS) have made this software readily available to hundreds of organizations and thousands of legal professionals who didn’t have the large IT budgets and/or requisite sophistication to install, optimize, maintain, and secure enterprise software applications. The flexibility that cloud delivery offered enabled those that had large IT budgets to develop a deeper and more profound understanding of the software by allowing them to focus less on software infrastructure and more on software capabilities. 

This led to them develop new services and offerings with the software. Or, you could say, it led to another round of innovation.

Innovation on Innovation

This next round of innovation, fueled by the people and legal teams sitting in the middle of eDiscovery, at the intersections of law, commerce, language, and computer science, is what our Faces of Innovation Report and companion webinar are all about.

We noticed that many firms were starting to create roles and teams dedicated to both innovation and knowledge management and, in several cases, these were combined. Given Nuix’s long history and passion for helping organizations around the globe make sense of their own data and documents, this was a trend we wanted to better understand and support.

So, in the spring of 2019, we commissioned Ari Kaplan Advisors to examine this trend. Ari interviewed 33 knowledge management leaders from law firms in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and across the United States.

The respondents discussed:

  • How technology was forcing law firms to reconfigure roles and shift an array of responsibilities
  • Ways that client expectations were prompting those firms to assemble multidisciplinary teams that featured a unique combination of legal, technical, and tactical talent
  • How these organizations were embracing a universal approach to information to gain greater insights from total data intelligence.

The survey results revealed an incredible transformation taking place inside law firms. Here are some of the key findings:

Strong Connection Between Knowledge Management and Innovation

The survey found clear evidence that law firms and their knowledge management practices were undergoing considerable transformation. All respondents but one (97%) reported that their role had changed in the past few years. More than half (55%) could specifically identify when their responsibilities moved from an exclusive concentration on knowledge management to a broader focus on innovation.

Client Expectations and Demand for New Services Led to Rise of Multidisciplinary Teams

Three out of four respondents (78%) noted that client expectations were prompting law firms to assemble multidisciplinary teams.

Collaboration is High

Most respondents (58%) rated the level of collaboration between their knowledge management team and the firm’s lawyers, paralegals, and professional staff at a four out of five (five being the highest); one-third ranked the level of collaboration at a five.

Law Firms Are Embracing Analytics and Machine Learning

Four out of five respondents (82%) reported that law firms are leveraging insights from taking a holistic look at their data. This concept of total data intelligence includes the intentional examination, cultivation, and reuse of data after a litigation event.

Exploring Innovation Further

Next Thursday, June 25, we invite you to join us for a webinar to discuss  and expand on some of the report’s findings. Our speakers are both eDiscovery thought leaders and leaders inside their firms.

  • Bryant Isbell – Managing Director of Global eDiscovery and Data Advisory Group, Baker McKenzie
  • Caroline Sweeney – Director of Knowledge Management & Innovation, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
  • Paul Sirkis – Managing Director, Litigation Counsel, Macquarie Group
  • Ari Kaplan – Principal, Ari Kaplan Advisors, Ari Kaplan Advisors

Bryant Isbell and Caroline Sweeney represent large, global law firms that provide a myriad of eDiscovery services and work on some of the largest, most complex matters in the world. Their teams are incredibly talented and they have evolved along with eDiscovery, not just adopting the latest technologies and processes but, in many cases, leading the way. I’ve had the good fortune to spend time with them and their respective teams and walked away from each encounter inspired and energized at seeing our software being used by such an impressive and talented group.

Paul Sirkis represents a large corporation where litigation is the cost of doing business. Paul not only carries the responsibility of understanding the law, and how it applies to the firm’s dealings, but also in understanding and explaining how eDiscovery technology works to do things in ways that are not only effective and cost-efficient but also legally defensible. Paul is also a gifted speaker who can break down the process and flow of his work—and the thinking behind it—in a way that benefits everyone who works in eDiscovery.

Ari Kaplan is a lawyer, legal analyst, and thought leader; but I think of Ari as a modern-day alchemist. He combines his legal expertise and scientific approach to research along with his gift for moderation and speaking to create memorable experiences at tradeshows, conferences, roundtables, and events. From the formal to the informal, Ari transforms a cold space into a warm conversation. It’s no mistake that when COVID-19 resulted into shelter-in-place for most of us in North America, it was Ari who led the way with his incredibly popular lunch and learns on LinkedIn.

If you haven’t done so already, I hope you’ll look at the report and certainly join us for this webinar. It should be an engaging and lively conversation about state of innovation and collaboration in eDiscovery, made even more interesting by the experiences and views of our growing audience of guests.