Welcome to your Law Tech briefing for Oct 6th, 2023, covering what happened in legal tech recently.
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Have less than a 1 min? Three takeaways from yesterday
- The legal industry is increasingly embracing software as a service (SaaS) solutions like Lupl, Tessaract, and DivorceHelp123. These developments suggest that law firms should consider integrating these tools into their own practice to streamline operations and boost client engagement and efficiency.
- Legal technology adoption, notably cloud computing, automation, and AI, is driving efficiency and enhancements in client services and knowledge management. Despite concerns about AI potentially displacing jobs, particularly among law library professionals, law firms should remember that the depth of knowledge these professionals provide continues to be invaluable for effective legal service delivery.
- As law firms continue to invest in transformative technologies, it is essential to ensure these tools align seamlessly with existing tech stacks, preventing potential fragmentation. Equally important is oversight of potential challenges associated with tech consolidation, such as price hikes and product bundling, to ensure fair practice and maintain client trust.
Here's what happened in legal tech recently...
UK law firm Ashurst announced Ruth Ward as its global director of knowledge and expertise, elevating expectations for boosted client delivery and digital know-how. New legal case management software, Clarras, entered the market to facilitate managing litigation workflows. Meanwhile, Tessaract's SaaS practice and case management system were selected by Conexus Law to bolster their IT infrastructure services. DivorceHelp123, a dedicated software for divorce and family law attorneys, also surfaced, substantiating conversations about cloud and SaaS uptake. Lastly, the launch of Lupl's new generation platform designed to enhance legal matter management was a notable event.
Several discernible trends were observed. The latitude of the cloud and SaaS services in the law industry is continuously widening. This was affirmed by law firms and legal tech companies choosing SaaS solutions, like Lupl, Tessaract, and DivorceHelp123. Increasing digitization was also manifest in the development of the Lupl platform, which offers AI-driven legal project management for better efficiency. Meanwhile, on the darker side of such advancements, concerns about AI jeopardizing law library professionals are rising, with June Hsiao Liebert taking office as the president of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).
Currently, legal technology is being reshaped by automation, cloud computing, and AI. While improvements in operational efficiency, client services, and knowledge management are evident, concerns surrounding potential job displacements in the industry mount. The promise of increased efficiency and seamless client engagement drives the attraction of SaaS and AI solutions by law firms. However, while continuing to invest in these transformative technologies, law firms should be mindful of ensuring these tools align with their existing tech stacks without leading to fragmentation. Law libraries, a fundamental part of this industry, may find their relevance under question due to AI, but the depth of knowledge offered by these professionals will still be necessary in providing effective legal services. As the trend of legal tech consolidation continues, oversight of potential issues, including price hikes and product bundling, remains critical.
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Pay inequality is growing in the legal sector as "superstar" lawyers demand and receive higher payments for their expertise and proven efficacy. The practice of "decompression" of the pay scale has been gaining traction in large law firms, where widening the pay gap between top and bottom performers aims to safeguard the firm's most profitable practices from being poached by higher-paying firms. These high-earner attorneys are key drivers of this change, indicative of a larger, generational shift in partner compensation. However, this trend is not without controversy, upheaving the implicit social contract traditionally associated with the profession. The changing dynamics in law firms, from being a great lawyer to one who also brings in business and delegates work to others, reflects wider market trends straying from "standard economic models." Despite potential pushback, these trends are not seen as transitory, painting a stark, inequitable future for legal compensation.
The legal industry has experienced radical transformation due to technology, fundamentally improving efficiency and productivity. However, as digital transformation lead Troels (Troy) Nørgaard asserts, the proliferation of available solutions often results in a tech stack that doesn't seamlessly integrate with larger organizational systems. A lack of interoperability hampers workflow and complicates decision-making processes. Nørgaard suggests solutions should be user-friendly, reliable, and align with an organization's tech stack while retaining stringent data security measures. Prioritizing solutions that can be integrated into pre-existing frameworks or provide an all-in-one approach eases the learning curve and streamlines workflows. Ultimately, legal technology needs to be designed with the end-user in mind, ensuring smooth, secure, and efficient operation.
Lupl's legal matter management platform is introducing its second-generation updates, driven largely by customer feedback for enhanced customization and workflow optimization. These updates include an AI Assistant entitled 'Create with AI,' which allows users to input text for a generation of matters. Other enhancements delivered a no-code form builder, called Lupl Forms, for task automation and a project management tool called Workstreams to aid the organization and management of matter components. Lupl also included broader search capabilities and connectivity to iManage, NetDocuments, Docusign, and an API for enterprise customers. Lupl representatives shared that these tools aim to assist legal professionals in keeping matters on track, and delivering a smooth work experience. Notably, Lupl also achieved ISO 27001 and SOC 2 Type 2 security certifications.
Ashurst, a leading UK law firm, has named Ruth Ward as its global director of knowledge and expertise. Ward brings nearly two decades of experience as head of knowledge at Allen & Overy and has also worked for the Government Legal Department. Her expertise in the legal and tech industries is anticipated to strengthen Ashurst's client delivery and digital competencies.
June Hsiao Liebert, the first Asian-American president of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), has taken office amid fears that artificial intelligence could jeopardize law library professionals. As the director of information services at O’Melveny & Myers, Liebert has a strong IT and information management background. She discusses the current and future state of the profession in a recent podcast.
Clarra, a new cloud-based legal case management software, has been launched to help law firms manage litigation workflows. The SaaS application is designed to enhance efficiency and outcomes, overseeing a case from complaint filing to resolution. The platform ensures no deadlines are missed and is initially free, with subscription plans starting at $47 per user per month.
The article explores the challenges of detecting and rectifying bias in AI technologies, especially in hiring. It underscores the technical and legal difficulties, including defining and quantifying bias and potential legal liabilities. Authors Bradley Merrill Thompson and Michael Shumpert stress the importance of collaboration between data scientists and legal experts to ensure AI models comply with anti-discrimination laws. They also highlight the need for routine audits to identify and address bias over time.
In 2020, female general counsels (GCs) at the top 500 US companies earned a median salary of $3.2 million, compared to $3 million for males, reports Equilar. This pay difference stems from a 47% pay rise for women since 2018, compared to a 14% increase for men. Women now comprise 36% of GCs, a rise from 27% five years ago. GC compensation is largely influenced by company size, industry, and performance incentives.
UK-based Conexus Law has selected Tessaract's SaaS practice and case management system to enhance its IT infrastructure services. The decision follows Conexus Law's 2019 initiative to secure external funding for technological investment. Tessaract's integrated all-in-one solution, a notable disruptor in the Practice Management System (PMS) space, is anticipated to support Conexus Law's growth and improve its client services.
DivorceHelp123 is a cloud-based software for divorce and family law attorneys. It helps manage cases, collect client information, generate legal documents, and maintain client communication. The software integrates with Clio's law practice management platform and Dropbox, enabling a two-way synchronization of client and contact data. It also features a client-facing app for direct client engagement. DivorceHelp123 offers a free 30-day trial, with subscriptions starting at $35 per month.
The transition back to physical offices has sparked discussions about law firm dress codes, with critics arguing they unfairly impact women and diverse lawyers. The article covers the author's personal encounters with dress code regulations throughout her legal career, including a prohibition on women wearing pants in court in the 1980s and 2000s, and the recent challenges of appropriate dress during the pandemic. The author concludes by expressing her reluctance to adhere to these standards.
Thomson Reuters' acquisition of Casetext for $650M exemplifies the ongoing trend of legal tech mergers, despite economic instability. A survey of law professionals revealed mixed views on merger success, with most respondents from private firms. Factors contributing to unsuccessful mergers include excessive price hikes, forced product bundling, poor integration, loss of content usability, and declining customer service and product quality.
Bundledocs and 3545 Consulting Announce Strategic Partnership to Best Address Law Firms’ Document Binding and PDF Editing Needs (Legal Technology News - Legal IT Professionals | Everything legal technology)
Bundledocs, a cloud-based document binding software provider, has joined forces with IT consultancy 3545 Consulting Global to improve digital pre-trial solutions for law firms. This partnership aims to provide legal professionals with advice on cloud-based document binding and PDF editing. The collaboration highlights the increasing importance of PDF cloud solutions in law firms' shift to cloud-based document solutions. Bundledocs, a leader in electronic document production, serves over 1,200 clients in more than 34 countries.