Legal Market Revival (?) and Trends – Live from the Legal Tech Blogger Breakfast
This is a live blog post from the Legal Tech NY 2015 bloggers breakfast. [Apologies for lack of links – I did not have names before the session. As with all live posts, please forgive typos and errors.]
Molly Miller of ALM is the moderator and poses the questions in bold.
Is the legal market on a path to revival?
Bob Ambrogi, Blogger and Former Editor: Firms are riding the wave of the economy. But we are heading to another disaster. Legal services sector is doing a bad job of serving the market, both B2C and B2B. If firms don’t become smarter about using tech and improving tech, they will lose share to new players.
James Paterson, of Lexis: Buyers are smarter now and they demand value. Law firms that demonstrate the value will take share. Clients keep work in-house or retain alternates to law firms – so the pressure remains.
Ryan McClead, of 3 Geeks and a Blog: Agrees with both above but is more optimistic. Sees a “revival” but that does not mean return to pre-2008. Perhaps on cusp of something new and different. Firms will either adopt tech or they will be over-run by those who do.
Ari Kaplan, Legal Market Researcher and Writer: I normally don’t focus on macro issues. I produce research reports: I ask clients, partners, and technologists what they they think. I’m a bit of an optimist. Not convinced we can paint future with broad brush. Each organization’s culture will drive its future. Notes that seemingly identical firms have widely diverging performance and surmises that culture and management drives the differences.
What trends do you expect to see in 2015:
Bob: We are in the midst of one of the most creative times of legal tech, partly driven by hackers (good kind). Cites CodeX booth – who are mainly hackers – exhibiting today. Ravel Law is an example of this trend. [Ravel Law is a research start-up.] Also sees analytics and Big Data as important. Right now, it’s most common in eDiscovery but says it is moving to other areas of law, for example, patents and court dockets. And finally, legal services sector is innovating to use tech to provide access to justice (A2J).
James: On Big Data, cites the $17B spend database that LexisNexis offers clients so that they can be smarter buyers. For law firms to deliver against the challenges this raises, law firms need to deploy more technology. Security is a huge concern for all firms as well and will lead to more controlled use of data.
Ryan: Agrees. At his own firm, he finds lawyers coming more in a spirit of partnership to solve problems than demanding tech. Thinks this mindset will make a big difference for Big Law.
Ari: Tells the story of outsourcing and on-demand services enabled by the Web. Does not mention Uber per se but alludes to the disaggregation and dispersion of work enabled by a wide range of web services.
How did the cloud play out in 2014 and what will happen in 2015?
Ryan: I am baffled we are still having this discussion. To be sure, there are security concerns; but this is true for any system. The cloud is now the infrastructure. “The only way to be profitable in this industry is to move to the cloud.”
James: Cloud wins on ease-of-use, especially in the small law firm market. As firms look for more security, many will look to companies what specialize in IT – which means the cloud.
Bob: We need to declare an end to discussing this. It’s here, get over it.
Ari: Interviewed corporate security officers recently. They do not speak with one voice. Depends where they come out on security versus convenience. James chimes in to say that corporate IT leaders are shifting rapidly to accept if not embrace the cloud.
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