The legal market has been on the march in the last few days, despite the the long US Thanksgiving weekend. I highlight here, in two related groups, a few news items of note…
Law Firm Business Services Staffing May Be Up For Grabs
- The Lawyer magazine has a long and interesting report, UK 200 Business Services 2016: Key findings (28 Nov 2016). It describes the potential impact of rapidly changing legal technology and its impact not on the practice of law (AI is already old hat) but on law firm staffing.
- At the same time that tech may take jobs, many firms continue to seeks savings via labor cost arbitrage, the latest example being Dentons launches new shared services hub in Poland, will lay off about 25 in UK (ABA Journal, 22 Nov 2016).
- And business process outsourcing – another way to move jobs out of law firms – continues apace. Law Firm Business Development: Is Marketing Department Outsourcing The New Black? (LawVision blog, 21 Nov 2016) reports the ” trend is that all non-strategic functions, Marketing Communications or otherwise, are being considered as potential outsourcing targets.” (On 15 Nov 2016, LawVision and nSource announced a strategic alliance for marketing and BD outsourcing.)
- The staff remaining at law firms main offices may well have more work flexibility. Allen & Overy “changes market perception” with tech budget rise (The Lawyer, 25 Nov 2016) reports that A&O IT spending is 5% higher for 2016-17 over the prior year. This is driven in part to “support a more flexible and mobile workforce”.
Legal Service Delivery Shows Signs of Morphing
- US labor and employment law firm Jackson Lewis has launched a data analytics group “to tackle new and non-law projects for its employer clients.” This Law Firm Is Betting on Data (Big Law Business, 23 Nov 2016) also reports examples of the team’s work, including damage assessments.
- Pillsbury has partnered with cybersecurity experts FireEye and Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Services to offer what the firm calls “a ‘one-stop shop’ for cybersecurity risk assessments and compliance”. (See Pillsbury’s Equation: Biglaw + alt.law = Modern Cybersecurity Solution, Above the Law, 23 Nov 2016)
- High volume work in Big Law continues to automate and augment with technology. Legal Futures (22 Nov 2016) reports that LISA (Legal Intelligence Support Assistant), powered by Neota Logic, will assist in drafting NDAs and could soon have other uses. Separately, AI Start-up ‘Legit’ to Disrupt Patent World, Secures Seedcamp Funding (Artificial Lawyer, 25 Nov 2016) reports that first round funder SeedCamp has invested in start-up Legit Patents, which “has developed a new way of approaching the patent filing process using AI technology that will reduce the need for initial input from patent lawyers and greatly reduce the cost and time of making a provisional filing.”
- On the consumer side, LegalZoom in the UK launched Legacy, a website and mobile app for wills. (See LegalZoom launches ‘digital will’ in first UK product roll-out, Legal Futures, 28 Nov 2016)
Last week seemed particularly eventful for a week that, at least in the US, is normally quiet on the business and legal news front.