Last month, the night before the Legaltech Show in New York, I got together for drinks in a midtown bar with Bryon Bratcher, Director of Practice Support at Reed Smith. Bryon has spent the last fifteen years working on the tech side of Am Law 200 firms, first specializing in litigation technology. I met Bryon last year at Relativity Fest in Chicago, where he was receiving an award for Best Law Firm or Corporate Solution.
Now, if your only source of news about legal technology and disruption is the tech companies themselves, you might conclude that robots have now replaced junior associates and that machine learning and analytics is now forcing partners to adapt quickly or get left behind.
It sounds nice.
That is why I make it my business to talk with folks like Bryon, the very people who are evaluating new technology for their firms. Starting March 15th, Bryon and I will share our thoughts about the Legaltech Show and the trends that the both of us are following during the course of 2017. The ReplyAll conversation, which is sponsored by kCura, developers of the eDiscovery platform Relativity, is not a live-chat that takes place during a set period of time, but a real life conversation that will develop organically over the course of the day.
Our group at Reed Smith is responsible for providing innovative legal solutions to clients (both litigation and transactional) so I have great interest in technology tools & trends that are going to allow us to provide a more flexible offering and allow us to service more points on the legal technology spectrum. This includes business monitoring and metrics.
To that end, I was very impressed with a few technology solutions that can connect information across our current suite of products and provide functionality in the transactional/due diligence space.
If it passes the thumbs up/down test, then we dig into:
· Granular functionality of the underlying technology & infrastructure
· Ease of use
· Customization capability
· Connectivity with current technology suite
· Company pedigree/expertise
· Financial stability
· Pricing model & ROI
This is all coupled with a proof of concept.
It can be a long process, but it’s important to make sure we find the right technology fit for the business.
No longer does the pitch meeting consist of a GC and partner. Clients typically will have technology and other legal operations team members attend as well. Not only do clients dig into the legal expertise, but what mechanisms are in place to ensure operational efficiency. The best balance of quality and value.
Technology has to be leveraged to meet this new mandate.
Some of the technical issues addressed involve better monitoring of case budgets in real time, streamlining a repeatable process, using AI to connect the legal dots faster – ultimately working to make things easier and less expensive across litigation and transactional matters.
How is this affecting the tech departments at the big firms? Are law firms hiring more engineers and folks on the IT side and, if not, how are firms developing expertise in tech?
One of the great things about Reed Smith is its a firm that fosters innovation in technology and values the critical role it plays in delivering a complete package of legal services.
My last few hires all have tech operations or development/coding chops. It’s become a critical part of our business. Our team can come up with ideas and our development wizards make them tangible solutions for clients. Makes it fun.
P. S. I knew the guys from Premonition before they were famous!
Source: Bloomberg Law