Assessing the Value of AI and Other Technology to the Law Firm

This session examines key issues in the approach law firms take to techology projects, whether sexy AI projects or more mundance technology infrastructure projects.

Speakers:

  • Philip Bryce, Global Director of Knowledge Management, Mayer Brown,
  • Kingsley Martin, President & CEO, KMStandards LLC and Chief Contract Scientist, Akorda,
  • Patrick Dundas, KM Associate, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, Dean Sonderegger, VP Legal Markets, Innovation, Wolters Kluwer Legal and Regulatory US

[These are my notes from the 2018 Ark Group Conference: Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Comparing Law Firms and Technology

    • Kingsley Martin:
      • Following Susskind, we are supposed to be moving from bespoke to standardized work product.
      • Lawfirms tend to focus on low-volume, high-margin, bespoke work.
      • LegalZoom focuses on the high-volume, low-margin standardized work.
      • Kingsley Martin is focused on the b2b market, where he needs to provide highly efficient work product to businesses and governments. This is a space that most law firms are ignoring
      • Meanwhile, technology is moving from broad-based to sophisticated and nuanced. In other words, moving from standardized to customized.
      • He codes in multiple computer languages, however, he no longer codes. Rather, he trains computers to code as needed. This is the more efficient approach. Machine learning is faster than human learning. Law firms have not figured this out.
  • We operate in a trust model
    • Kingsley Martin:
      • Clients come to us because they trust us. But we don’t have good metrics based on good processes that can validate their trust.
      • We know that we need to move to simpler processes and documents if we want to take full advantage of techonological opportunities. However, there is real resistance to simplification within law firms.
        • This resistance is based on their perception of risk.
        • They believe that a simpler process/document may entail greater risk. However, they do not always have reliable data to support this perception.
        • So it is critical to take a closer look at the true risks involved and then quantify those risks.
        • Then you need to addess those risks. Some firms are moving to insurance/self-insurance models to cover those risks.
  • Prioritizing Projects
    • Phil Bryce
      • How to choose AI solutions?
      • Remember the difference between point solutions and platforms. And keep in mind the critical integration points between your existing technology and the new tools.
        • They must work together seamlessly.
        • Don’t be so enamoured by a new tool that you allow it to create a content silo unconnected to the rest of your tech resources.
      • He uses the classic McKinsey Value vs. Effort 2×2 grid to prioritize projects.
        • He works this grid with his management committee. They have a conversation about the placement of the various projects on the grid and then agree on the final placement of the projects. As part of this conversation, they agree which projects will be done first and which ones likely won’t be done.
        • He works this grid with the partners who supervise practice support lawyers (PSLs) to ensure they are aligned on the PSL’s priorities.
  • How should you choose your tech vendors?
    • Patrick Dundas
      • Most firms choose vendors on the basis of a good demo. However, demos almost always go well. That’s the point!
      • A better approach:
        • Start with a clear and well-articulated understanding of the problem you are trying to solve, as well as the associated requirements.
        • Get a good list of the relevant stakeholders. Understand their specific needs.
        • Be clear about your desired timeline.
        • Ask for RFPs from vendors.
          • Ask them to respond to your matrix of requirements. Their ability to do so appropriately is a good early signal of their ability to work well with you.
        • Evaluate vendor responses
          • How well did they respond?
          • Highlight/flag the responses that distinguish particular vendors
        • Check vendor references — be sure to use a script for these conversations to ensure you cover the key points.
        • Joshua Fireman recommends that you record your demos and your technical deep dives. This will help you remember the details.

Session Description:

In today’s legal tech environment, Knowledge Management professionals have a rich tapestry of tools to choose from to help drive firm success. Each vendor typically will provide ROI calculations as part of the sales pitch, but the onus still sits with the firm to choose wisely in a budget (both me and cost) constrained world.

This panel will explore the technology value chain—from efficiency to outcome to optimization of business processes, the characteristics of each step in the value chain, where different types of solutions fit, and the impact to the firm from different categories of solutions.

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