February 2-4, Legal Tech 2015 was held in New York City. Legal Tech is a well-attended conference, with great speakers, and featuring many new products in the exhibit halls. Wandering through the exhibit halls made it clear that e-discovery is hot, as are tools that secure data. In addition there were many other apps and tools designed to make the legal profession easier for practitioners and better accessible for clients.
I really enjoyed the role play organized by Wolters Kluwer. Besides being fun and entertaining, it showcased a lot of unnecessary rework and frustration that will impact you, your back office and ultimately your client, that can be avoided by taking the time to understand what a client really needs. With more in-depth understanding of the scope and risks of a project, more educated guesses can be made regarding the timing and costs of the project.
The role play also included a client, who proved to be very willing to discuss details and increase the understanding of the case to ensure better alignment. From the perspective of the client it is important to avoid surprises, making them appreciative of more elaborate inquires upfront, in order to prevent large unexpected upsets later. By no means did the client consider such an enquiry a sign of ignorance. Rather the opposite, asking relevant, specific questions is considered a sign of strength.
I also really enjoyed the showcase by Littler and Davis, Wright, and Tremaine LLP, that was part of the ILTA sponsored track. Their stories showed what technology can do for law firms and provided an insight in innovative new services that stem from these opportunities that enables both firms to grow their customer base. The session also provided a peek into the future of law firms as it showed how these firms organize for innovation and new service development. Their stories showed how others can also be leading the revolution in developing new services. It requires just the capabilities to innovate not once, but diligently and repeatedly, creating a pipeline of valuable new services for their clients.
What is the new service development process these firms use?
- It is collaborative for sure, without a team none of these services would have come about
- It is about engaging your top talent; top notch lawyers working together with top notch data analysts to figure out big data issues, and top notch security experts to provide the latest and newest services related to cyber security
- It is about patience; none of these services happened overnight
That brings me back to the exhibitors. While walking the hallway, I asked many about their biggest challenge in selling their technologies to law firms. The answers will not surprise you. For the firms with name recognition, it was getting time and being able to showcase what a novel technology can do, like How it can save lawyers time and provide more valuable services to their clients. For the smaller firms, the biggest hurdle was getting in. For them, teaming up or lifting on with others, is the only way to get some visibility. In sum, most of the exhibitors were trying to push their products into the law firms.
However, as we know from years of technology management and marketing research, pushing technologies or new services is like pushing a rope. The reverse, creating a market pull, is much more effective. However, that requires law firms, to start behaving like the two firms – Littler and Davis, Wright, and Tremaine – mentioned above.
Without a structured way to scout proactively for opportunities that potentially can benefit their clients, and working with others who can help them create a solution that is valuable for the clients, many of the presented technologies at Legal Tech 2015 will unfortunately be left in vain.
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