Report From ILTA Conference–Transformation Through Emerging Technologies

23 Aug

Post by David Hobbie, ILTA KM PG

The panel was comprised of:

  • Gerard Neiditsch, Exec. Director, Business Integration & Technology, Mallesons
  • Michael Mills, Neota Logic
  • Loretta Auer, CIO, Fish & Richardson
  • Sally Gonzalez, Senior Director, HBR Consulting

This enlightening session highlighted several thought leader’s forward-looking opinions on actual and potential transformations of legal work through emerging technologies.  They moved at breathtaking speed but touched on a number of areas of innovation that will or may impact the field.

Sally’s Introduction

What comes first? Technology change or organizational change?  When do you see external forces driving incorporation of technology change into the organization.

This is the wrong question.

Lawyers want to work at any place, any time, on any device, by 2020.  We keep getting there in baby steps.  Today we are in “hyper-information” mode.  We are in the cusp of hypermobility which will lead to hyper-communication.  We’ll need hyper users.

Virtual lawyering will require maturation in each of these areas.  What will the virtual lawyer look like?

We’re all dealing with lawyers.  Psychologists have run thousands of Hayes tests on lawyers.  Deviations from normal include high-end skepticism, leading to analysis paralysis, autonomy, and abstract reasoning.  They are low in sociability and resilience, meaning they are hyper-sensitive to criticism.  90% of people don’t share lawyers “sense of urgency.”

These personality traits are different from the general population.  Change efforts need to take into account these traits.

Michael Mills

These characteristics are matched with brains, skills, and speed, making lawyers interesting to work with.

Firms are drowning in data.  There’s more information available, it’s not delivered in useful ways.  Software for building data visualization is now reasonable and accessible.  Providing spreadsheets of data doesn’t provide the information lawyers need in a way they can use it to act.

“Basic” Visualization

He’s showing Actual vs. Forecast revenue by partner, with rows of partners.  Partners understand colors and spatial order.  Forward is better than backward, red is bad, yellow is less bad, green is good.  Another chart compares matter size by fee type and client industry.  Fixed / Hourly / Hybrid / Outcome-based; 0-$100K/ 100-200 K, etc., with colors showing industry.  You could also compare matters by client industry and region.

Radical Visualization

This new application provides visualize of legal rules, for instance, across jurisdictions.  Lawyers laid out the risks, qualifications, in a detailed memo; this can be reduced, for instance, to a “collateral directive” chart, showing no/ usually / uncertain / yes (with colors).  If you click on one of the sections, you drill down to the related substance.

Law is transformed from chunks of text to the same tools that client use to analyze other aspects of their business.  Visual interpretation of risk is much easier to digest.

Loretta Auer

Some providers of legal services to lower-income people are developing multi-media legal documents based on knowledge bases and rules.  The Maricopa County Arizona court system has set up kiosks that help citizens generate own legal documents for divorce, child support, landlord-tenant matters, and simple estates.  They’re expanding to 150.  These systems simplify law and make it more accessible.  It’s part of a large nationwide pro bono effort.  Law firms that participate in this effort are gaining an understanding

If it’s easy to find your reservation on JetBlue, it better be easy to find information from clients’ law firms.

Gerard Neiditsch

The background is Mallesons Connect (addressed in Caselines here).  Lawyers are accustomed to command and control system in which collaboration does not come naturally.  The new generation of clients and lawyers is expecting to operate in a network.  Our IT systems work from the top down.  We can pump out information from the top down but find it hard to aggregate and coalesce information coming in from the “bottom.”

Some of the lawyer’s children talk to them from time to time and share their experiences with social media (like FaceBook).  His lawyers reached out to him and said they wanted a way to reach out to people they work for.  He’s suggested social media and they seemed to get it.

“Springboard” will be rolled out in 2-3 months.  In one place it will bring in a prioritized view of what lawyers need to do, a view of social information.  The end goal is for every person at the firm to have a prioritized, aggregate, personalized dynamic view of information about work, client needs, and their social and information network.   Make the good important information float to the top.

Mallesons has a matrix organization with practice areas and (industry) sectors.  You can follow information that is tied to those structures.  Everything is dynamic.

His goal is to make information much more transparent.  Half of their pricing is fixed (informally or formally).  Transparency is absolutely more important.  Everyone on the team needs to see where you are.

He shows a dashboard that shows all the matters he’s working on, with schedule, popup window with detail on a matter; you can see others working on it including detail such as Invoiced / WIP / Total / Estimate / % Estimate.  People’s availability is shown dynamically, updated every 4 seconds.  They are focused on *very* dynamic information.  They need to hide static information because it’s not needed as much.  They are trying to highlight dynamic information.  SharePoint is unsuitable for such dynamic information (ask him for details).

They have developed a mobile app (sample shown was on an iPhone) with high acceptance among clients.  It allows clients to call, text, email, and show a lawyer’s colleagues.  It will also display project statistics and financials.  They have no time for training.  iOs native development is a challenge—Michael Mills is impressed that Mallesons has done it, and feels that it is worth the investment.  It has development tools that are as easy to use as Microsoft work.

Sally asks how they are driving acceptance.  Gerard replies that they are not expecting lawyers to go to training.  They are putting “liking” and “following” on their intranet.

Michael Mills on Mobile

He shows a chart laying out location of texting (place of worship, bed, during meeting); there are much higher percentages of texting among younger folk, not surprisingly.

A survey shows that users employ mobile phones/iPads 69% of the time to do work; the survey also shows that IT thinks users are only employing about 35% f the time.

The new iPad will likely be “the new iPad.”

Loretta on the Gestural Computing and the Post PC world

Pranav Mistry of the MIT Fluid Intefaces Group is working on “sixthsense.”  It’s a wearable gestural interface.  It projects a hologram.  Look at airplane ticket, it shows you that your flight is delayed.  With it you can use a blank sheet of paper as an iPad.  People don’t want computing, they want to get things done.

These are personal technologies.  Why would you go to an office where the technology is more primitive?

If bandwidth continues to improve, HD video will be much more prevalent.  GoTo Meeting is getting better; it’s not Cisco telepresence, but it’s a lot better than IM or phone.  Michael wonders if that will make us question what lawyers need all those offices for.

Loretta on Voice Recognition

We’ve had voice recognition tech but most people don’t use it.  We need to take it to a different level.

Dragon is the quickest way to start a search.  (Michael Mills is a convert.)  In a large law firm, where you can customize Dragon for a law firm, you can roll it out quickly.  There’s a lot of productivity value there.  Conceptualize the applications that would be meaningful to them.  Search for someone, drill down into financials, and so forth.

An audience member asked if there is a copy of each message kept on Dragon servers.  She said that fact kept them from rolling out Dragon to lawyers.

Lawyers in the UK appear to take dictation more seriously.  The return of voice recognition may happen; the skill of speaking in good sentences and paragraphs persuasively is a skill also useful in deal negotiations and in the courtroom.

Unified communications will greatly assist productivity.

Michael thinks that Microsoft Link is a good product—it gets a lot of things right.

Loretta on Avatar-Based Meeting Support

Go online and watch demos at IBM Virtual Unity Community where people are taking “Second Life” concept into workflow and collaboration.

The head of Microsoft’s research labs was saying that bandwidth will be a constraint for the next five years.  They are looking at system where body is an avatar but the head is “real” looking.  It looks odd but may become normal.

Loretta’s Social Media Work

iFish “I Create.  I Innovate.  Escape the Tank.  iFish.”  They are building an “Outlaw” application that will be highlighted in the next session.  

Sally on Managing Organizational and Individual Transformations

Will law firms “drive creativity out of the young folks”?  Younger lawyers tend to mirror the behavior of the senior partners.  There are senior partners who embrace these changes.  A transformational leader will pull along those who are ready.  You may not be able to make that leader, but you can find her.

Michael hypothesizes that we under-invest in leveraging partner’s capabilities.  Declare this the “year of the partner.”  Undertake every IT initiative just for the partners.

Virtual Lawyering

For firms, this means VMWare, virtualizing applications, and also mobility for lawyers.  Some examples of “invisible law firms.”  Axiom does substantive legal work on a disbursed basis, “Law firm on a diet.”  Clearspire does something similar, addressed on this blog a few months ago. VLP Law Group virtualized very high end work in a virtual way.  LawPivot participants are like a virtual law firm.  DirectLaw and Legalzoom are at the “small end.”  Legalzoom will raise money, clients will see this model.  Google invested in RocketLawyer.  These will impact the way we do business.  Consumerization of the way clients deal with lawyers will impact law firms.

In Fish & Richardson, different teams deal with substantive KM and also are changing how they want to work.  They are co-developing applications, self-service issues, and more.  They have a three-year window to ramp it up.  They have a sense of collaboration, and want to work with each other.  It’s a great place to be in IT when you are helping lawyers figure out better ways to do their jobs and live their lives.  Attorneys don’t have a lot of time to deal with this.

An excellent session, combining to an unusual degree some practical solutions that are happening now and some more theoretical changes that might occur someday.

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One Response to “Report From ILTA Conference–Transformation Through Emerging Technologies”

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  1. What’s New in Legal KM? | Above and Beyond KM - September 14, 2011

    […] One ILTA session that was definitely forward-looking focused on Transformation Through Emerging Technologies.  (See David Hobbie’s report on the discussion.) […]

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