A new survey of legal operation executives is challenging the view that the legal industry does not embrace technology. Lopez explores the evolutionary shift that many firms are now going through, and that others must follow. The survey found, “96% of respondents claimed to use metrics and reporting.” Unfortunately, the inconsistencies in billing practices and resources make it difficult for holistic reporting in some firms. Also not surprising, were issues associated with cost; 92% claimed they would use advanced analytics if the costs were not a concern. Other apprehensions included the need for advanced detailed billing statements and increasing transparency with clients. People falsely believe you need multiple technologies at high costs to overcome these barriers, but you don’t. Integrated solutions, such as ones that handle multiple situations and management issues (if you’re looking for an example you can find it here) exist that not only help legal navigate the changing client relationship, but utilize the great power of data-analytics to manage operations and influence strategy. As the legal community shifts its reliance on technology, the adoption of modern decision support tools like BI and dynamic reporting will become necessity, not luxury.
The legal industry is typically considered to be lagging behind when it comes to technology. However, a new survey of corporate legal operations executives challenges that assumption.
Ultimately it is undeniable that in order to stay afloat, law firms need to embrace technology. If a law firm does not adapt to the latest marketing and business trends, for example, it can be hard to fight off the competition.
That is not to say that newer law firms cannot learn from the ways of the past. Just take a look at this article for instance that lists case highlights from the now-defunct Brigham Moore law firm: http://gideonstrumpet.info/2012/03/end-of-an-era-the-florida-firm-of-brigham-moore-closes/.
Above all, in order to survive in the competitive legal sector, it is important to stay one step ahead of the trends where using technology is concerned.
Consequently, compiled as a joint effort between legal consultancy Ari Kaplan Advisors and legal software provider Recommind, the 2015 Corporate Legal Survey explored how technology is transforming the day-by-day operations of the corporate law department.
Results suggest the legal industry’s technology use in their practices is expanding, with notable trends, including a growing preference for cloud technology; priority placed in consolidating and centralizing discovery for better security and savings; reliance on metrics for analysis and oversight; and growing concern over tracking data via e-discovery.
“We’re seeing the industry shift towards technology due to pressure to reduce overall discovery and litigation spending,” said Hal Marcus, director of product marketing at Recommind.
Commenting on the assessment, he noted the study found that nearly half of the respondents have consolidated their e-discovery resources, while 71% are considering strategies for consolidation. “Unquestionably, there is growing pressure for legal teams to do more with less,” he added.
The survey was compiled through interviews conducted by Ari Kaplan advisors with 25 legal operations executives working for Fortune 1000 companies.
“The role of legal operations leaders is becoming more influential and diverse,” said Ari Kaplan, founder of Ari Kaplan Advisors, in an email to LTN. “These talented individuals are familiar with every aspect of law department management and continue to earn the trust of the senior legal officers by eliminating unnecessary expense while improving key processes.”
In addition, more than half of the survey respondents said they are already using cloud services, with 68% using a cloud-based e-billing tool and 52% using cloud-based matter management software. One survey respondent noted the growing implementation of cloud technology has less to do with IT team acceptance than a consensus among company attorneys that cloud software provides “a more responsible risk” than alternatives.
“Any hosted technology that law firms and corporations bring on premise also brings a risk of breach. Some tech corporations are comfortable with this, but many corporations and firms are not,” Marcus added. “As a result, we’re seeing a lot of corporations embracing the cloud, choosing tools or services that meet all their security parameters, and law firms are wise to follow suit.”
A Forced Evolutionary Shift?
Marcus called the transition to cloud technology a ‘forced evolutionary shift,’ adding that “some firms are being proactive … while others are not.”
Another respondent noted that cloud adoption’s attractiveness lies in its cost and “the reality that no matter where the data is, it is accessible by someone.” The report also found that 84 percent of respondents were open to adopting additional cloud solutions as well.
Nevertheless, the survey found that a large number of respondents still use encrypted hard drives, while 8% use unencrypted hard drives.
“Despite the use of encryption, sharing physical devices with valuable data subjects legal teams to a variety of avoidable threats,” Kaplan said. He added that “human behavior in the form of susceptibility to phishing attempts or loss of mobile devices … creates unnecessary vulnerabilities.”
When it comes to e-discovery security and consolidation, 72% of respondents considered security while distributing and tracking legal data a top priority, with 68% using SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) to deliver raw legal data, ranging from affidavits to contracts and everything in between. When it comes to sending video files, similar file transfer protocols were followed. That said, it might not be too surprising that centralizing and consolidating discovery was a high priority for respondents, with 44% noting that they have already adopted an approach while half of the remaining respondents were considering it. Interestingly, consolidation reduced the influence of discovery costs for respondents’ litigation strategy.
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