I report here on vendor discussions two weeks ago at Legal Tech 2014: tech + process improvement; digital dictation; outsourcing; and information governance.

Introduction – How I Decide What To Look At.  This report is not “best of show” or “most important”; rather, it reflects my interests and what jumps out at me in email blasts. And not much jumps out. Legal tech vendors, especially ediscovery, share a trait with AmLaw 200 firms: it’s hard to differentiate.

Building a Better Law Factory in a High Volume Practice.  Applying Lean Six Sigma to law practice always catches my eye. So I met with Acrowire, a 20-person technology consulting and software development firm headed by Ted Theodoropoulos (a Six Sigma Black Belt). It led a tech re-build – with process improvement – for a 90-person law firm with a high volume foreclosures and debt collection practice (case study here, pdf).
Take Away, Question, Comment: Most AmLaw 200 firms are not a “go to brand” or “value player” so likely face a long-term battle for share in a flat market. Lessons here for them?

Digital Dictation in the Mobile Era. I’ve never understood why digital dictation is much bigger in the UK than in the US. Maybe that will change in the mobile era. I talked to Eric Wangler, president of the US division of leading digital dictation provider BigHand. He says lawyer reliance on smartphones and tablets is giving digital dictation its day in the sun in the US: speech recognition coupled with document production workflows make it easier to work on the go.
Take Away, Question, Comment: Big Law has changed the workplace with mobile devices and big secretarial cuts. Have firms re-designed work flows and re-allocated responsibilities? Should firms promote digital dictation to lawyers?

Outsourcing – Legal IT. I’ve long thought that help desk outsourcing makes sense. So I met with IT outsourcing provider Keno Kozie for an update. Their help desk business is growing, with five new AmLaw 100 firms on board in 2013. They have also added security consulting and security as a managed service, with security expert Mark Brophy joining in January.
Take Away, Question, Comment: If IT does not provide a compelling competitive advantage, why not outsource it? The usual answer: service level, risk, or cost. How many large firms have systematically assessed these factors?

Outsourcing – LPO and BPO. I track developments in legal and business process outsourcing. I had seen numerous DTI outsourcing press releases, so met with Keith Conley, President, Legal Solutions. The company’s annual revenue is $350M, which makes it a sizable legal vendor.  Lines of business include eDiscovery, document review, and facilities management.  DTI also offers legal word processing and other middle office support services. I’ve long thought this is a big opportunity.
Take Away, Question, Comment: Firms seem more likely to build a low cost service center than outsource. Will that stay true? Note that Bingham, which has a center in Lexington, KY, started outsourcing some word processing to DTI in 2013.

Information Governance. Information governance is the new black. I see this in my law firm consulting, especially working with Recommind’s Information Governance solution. For an enterprise IG perspective, I talked to Bill Shute of Viewpointe. Owned by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and IBM, Viewpointe was started to address Check21. Viewpointe intends to become a trusted provider in the corporate IT stack, designed to (1) improve enterprise content management for proactive IG; (2) increase leverage and deployment of enterprise license purchases; and (3) replace legacy systems.
Take Away, Question, Comment: I’ve talked about reducing the need for eDiscovery processing and review with better corporate content control since at least 2006 (see this post).  Is now really the time?