Welcome to your Law Tech briefing for Sep 15, 2023, covering what happened in legal tech recently.
TLDR; Listen instead:
Have less than a 1 min? Three takeaways from yesterday
- Embrace Technology for Efficiency: The digitalization trend is strong within the industry. Law firms should consider adopting robust document management platforms like NetDocuments for efficient email management and document sharing. It's also crucial to align with tech partners for seamless implementation.
- Encourage Continuous Learning: The partnership between Litera and Intellek's on-going education platform signifies the importance of constant upskilling. Law firms should encourage their staff to participate in similar programs to stay updated with the latest industry trends and rules.
- Stay Current with Regulatory Adjustments: Regulatory and legal changes, such as the scrutinizing of non-compete agreements, highlight the need for constant vigilance. Legal professionals must be prepared to adapt their strategies for protecting confidential data and trade secrets according to new legislation and court rulings.
Here's what happened in legal tech recently...
Sweden-based law firm Foyen has chosen NetDocuments as its latest document management system (DMS). The inclusion of the cloud-based system, which will be integrated with existing Microsoft applications, is designed to boost efficiency by leveraging ndMail for email management and CollabSpaces for file sharing. Foyen’s drive toward robust technology adoption also included selecting Norteam and Sicklaskiftet, NetDocuments certified service partners, to facilitate the implementation.
Legal tech company Litera has teamed up with E-Learning platform Intellek to integrate Litera CE Manager into Intellek’s learning management system. This strategic partnership aims to foster continuing education within the industry by streamlining training processes.
Finally, Estonia's legal tech startup Avokaado secured €1.2 million in funding propelled by Tera Ventures. The funding will aid in developing an AI-enabled upgrade in contract documentation and lifecycle management.
Several emerging trends were also highlighted yesterday. The Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) Alliance is moving towards standardizing more than 12,000 legal tags and translating them into multiple languages. Brightflag, on the other hand, is introducing new budgeting features to deliver relevant strategies for corporate legal teams. There also seemed to be a trend towards scrutinizing non-compete agreements, with legislation and court attention prompting employers to adjust their methods of guarding confidential data and trade secrets.
The move from Foyen reflects a growing digitalization trend among law firms aiming to optimize operations and enhance productivity. The SALI Alliance's initiative shows a bold step towards promoting transparency, clarity, and cross-border collaboration within the legal industry. Start-ups like Avokaado using AI for contract management signal a trend towards intelligent automation and a growing attraction for investors. Legal document management and automation, coupled with strategic alliances, are indeed changing the landscape of the legal industry and setting the stage for future growth. The evident shift towards increased use of technology for streamlining legal operations, combined with the potential regulatory changes in contract agreements, serves as a reminder for legal professionals to stay updated and actively participate in industry discussions.
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Baker Botts L.L.P., a leading international law firm specializing in technology, energy, and life sciences, has formalized its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Practice Team in response to increased client demand. With over 60 specialized attorneys based across nine offices, the team offers a variety of services in areas such as technology, life sciences, and finance. The practice aims to help clients understand the complexities of AI, specifically in the areas of data collection, machine learning, and automation, while ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations. The diversified expertise accommodates the comprehensive legal service needs of various types of clients, including AI startups, established tech firms, and venture capital firms.
The SALI (Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry) Alliance, known for its creation and promotion of legal data standards, has developed 12,000+ legal tags, complete with definitions and translations into 11 commonly spoken languages. This marks a significant stride towards global standardization of legal data, aiding legal professionals in the comprehension and usage of these global standards. Besides increasing clarity in legal communications, this achievement fosters inclusivity within the industry by breaking language barriers. Introducing definitions to all tags also enhances concept understanding and disambiguation. This step is expected to boost efficiency, minimize misinterpretation, and encourage global collaborations in the sector. The updated features are scheduled for inclusion in the next general release of the standard in early 2024. This breakthrough could revolutionize the legal landscape, enabling more professionals to operate on a universally accessible platform.
Swedish law firm Foyen has selected NetDocuments as its new document management system (DMS) to streamline operations and enhance productivity. The initiative includes the use of ndMail for email management and CollabSpaces for file sharing. The cloud-based system will also integrate with existing Microsoft applications for a seamless user experience. The implementation is being facilitated by Norteam and Sicklaskiftet, NetDocuments' certified service partners.
Legal tech firm Litera has partnered with E-Learning platform Intellek, formerly TutorPro, to utilize its learning management system (LMS) for internal and client training. The collaboration will also see the integration of Litera's continuing education solution, Litera CE Manager, into Intellek's LMS. This strategic partnership aims to boost efficiency and foster learning and development within the legal industry.
The article discusses the importance of transparent and variable compensation plans in law firms. It highlights the drawbacks of the traditional "black-box" approach to compensation and suggests implementing a percentage-based approach that takes into account production, origination, and overhead. The article argues that this type of compensation plan can increase retention, reduce management burden, and align incentives between the firm and its attorneys.
Brightflag, an e-billing and matter management platform, has introduced new budgeting features for corporate legal teams to enhance their legal expenditure management. The features enable teams to set, enforce, and report on matter budgets on a quarterly, yearly, or life-of-matter basis. They also allow in-house teams to track budgets by phase and month, and establish top-down budgets at different levels. The new features are designed to align legal processes with companies' financial planning preferences.
Swedish law firm Foyen is implementing cloud platform NetDocuments to improve its document management system as part of a wider digitalisation effort. The platform was chosen for its security, availability, and speed, and will enable Foyen to manage, protect, and collaborate on documents more efficiently. It will also integrate with existing applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Word.
Estonia's legal tech startup Avokaado has raised €1.2 million in a funding round led by Tera Ventures. The company specializes in document and contract management and plans to introduce an AI-enabled upgrade to transform contracts into self-executing data. The upgrade includes a new document format, aDoc, that integrates clauses, metadata, workflows, and lifecycle management, enabling contracts to automate processes, adapt to various scenarios, and track changes.
A former flight attendant has launched a proposed class action lawsuit against Spirit Airlines, accusing the company of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The lawsuit alleges that Spirit used a "credit hours" system that excluded most pre- and post-flight work from service hours calculations, affecting when flight attendants were eligible for leave. The plaintiff also claims he was unjustly disciplined for approved FMLA leave and terminated after lodging a complaint with the Department of Labor.
Tim Parilla, Chief Legal Officer at LinkSquares, emphasizes the importance of networking and diversity in perspectives for in-house attorneys. He advises seeking mentorship from non-legal executives, avoiding echo chambers, and embracing differing viewpoints. Parilla suggests building relationships through negotiations, law firms, professional organizations, and industry events. He stresses that personal development is an individual responsibility and should be seen as an investment.
The California state legislature has approved a bill mandating companies with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion to report their carbon emissions from 2026. If Governor Gavin Newsom signs the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, it will establish the most comprehensive carbon reporting regulations in the U.S. Although tech firms like Apple and Microsoft back the bill, many manufacturing and financial services companies oppose it, arguing that measuring emissions they don't control is complex and challenging.
US law firms, The Schall Law Firm and Berman Tabacco, are investigating potential securities law violations by eDiscovery company DISCO, on behalf of shareholders who incurred losses after the company's stock value dropped. This follows the resignation of DISCO's CEO, Kiwi Camara. The firms will examine if DISCO issued misleading statements or withheld crucial information from investors.
A study by Wolters Kluwer and the European Legal Tech Association (ELTA) indicates that budget constraints are the main obstacle for European corporate legal departments in adopting legal technology. The report, based on a survey of 520 in-house legal professionals, found that 27% of departments lack a digital strategy, while 38% have a short-term one. Shared drives are used by 43% of respondents, and 30% use contract lifecycle management software. Return on investment is the key determinant in tech purchases.
Legaltech Week's 100th episode will be a gala edition featuring 20 previous panelists discussing significant trends and subtle changes in legal tech, excluding AI and pandemic-related topics. The theme was suggested by ChatGPT. Panelists include experts like Doug Austin, Niki Black, and Jeffrey Brandt. Pre-registration is mandatory for attendance.
Former American Bar Association executive director, Jack Rives, has been appointed president of Rocket Legal Professional Services, a new unit of Rocket Lawyer. Rives will oversee the expansion of affordable legal services in the UK and Utah, and the company's alternative business structure initiatives. He will also work on using artificial intelligence to boost lawyer productivity. This follows a partnership between the American Bar Association and Rocket Lawyer initiated by Rives to provide legal services to small businesses.
The article provides strategies for lawyers to distinguish themselves beyond their practice areas. It suggests methods such as showcasing unique work approaches, highlighting personal credentials, sharing personal interests, and creating a unique presence. The article stresses the significance of converting these features into client benefits and consistently fulfilling the brand promise. It proposes that a properly managed personal brand can assist lawyers in attracting preferred work or clients.
The pandemic has disrupted law firm cohesion due to the shift to remote work, weakening social bonds and shared identity. Leaders are focusing on internal issues like employee engagement rather than adopting AI, which they consider important but not urgent. The article suggests law firms should actively cultivate their values and culture to boost cohesion in a hybrid work environment.
CARET Legal has launched an AI-powered feature, Quick Summary, which provides concise summaries of complex legal documents. Utilizing Microsoft's Azure Open AI Service, this feature is intended to streamline work processes for attorneys by increasing billable hours, enhancing service quality, and reducing administrative tasks. It is available for Enterprise Plus and Enterprise Advance plan subscribers and is part of CARET's ongoing AI development efforts in the legal sector.
A study by Wolters Kluwer and the European Legal Tech Association (ELTA) reveals that 27% of European legal departments lack a digital strategy, while 38% only have a short-term one. The report, which surveyed over 520 in-house legal team members, identified budget allocation as the primary obstacle to acquiring legal technology. It also emphasised the potential of AI to enhance efficiency and lessen mundane tasks in legal departments.
Generative AI tools are being adopted by in-house legal teams to draft contracts, identify risks, and gain insights from contracts, as per a webcast by Pramata. These tools can improve efficiency and accuracy by automating tasks like agreement review and initial contract drafting. However, the quality of results depends on the accuracy of the source documents and well-crafted prompts. Despite potential risks, experts recommend using these tools for their benefits.
Noncompete agreements are facing increased scrutiny from state and federal legislatures, the FTC, and courts, prompting employers to rethink their strategies for protecting their confidential information and trade secrets. The FTC's proposed rule could prohibit most noncompete uses, while states such as Minnesota, California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma have nearly banned all noncompetes. As a response, employers are being urged to fortify non-solicitation agreements, review confidentiality measures, impose forfeiture-for-competition clauses, and improve employee retention strategies.
Orthofix, a Texas-based medical device manufacturer, has dismissed its CEO, CFO, and Chief Legal Officer due to violations of the company's code of conduct. The board of directors terminated Keith Valentine, John Bostjancic, and Patrick Keran following an internal investigation. Interim replacements have been appointed as the search for permanent successors begins. This news resulted in a 30% decrease in Orthofix's share value.