Legal Innovation and Tech Fest 2021

It has been two years since we all (those interested in legal innovation and technology) descended on Sandton for an in-person live face to face – hand shaking – conference. The Eventful People Group has brought the conference back in virtual mode. I must say, the in-person events just two years ago sound like a grandfather telling their grandchildren, how it was in the good old days. How things have changed, and at warp speed Dr Spock!

Now grandchildren, these are a few snippets I took from day one….

Gary Adler – Chief Digital Officer, MinterEllison
Embrace the Suck! Effectively Delivering Digital Change in a Traditional Industry

Change equates to Opportunity – when your world seems upside down – like NOW – your challenges you face create opportunities for your law firm or business.

Innovation of legal services require:

IT (propeller heads) + Legal Operations (lawyers that know the process) + Lawyers and Clients (people who will make use of the system) = Effective Agile Delivery Teams

Release small deliverable iterations of your new systems, so that the users and innovation teams celebrate small wins for better buy-in to the solution.

Users of a new system always want to know….”What is in it for me?”, even though they may not ask, this is what they are thinking, so make sure they get something otherwise your solution is going to be tossed aside.

“Embrace the Suck” – Acknowledging the challenge of change and use it to find solutions.

Annie Haggar – Global Legal Lead, Strategic Partnerships, Accenture
When, Not If: Legal’s Role in Preparing for Cybersecurity Attacks

Cybersecurity is getting worse, and more lucrative for the criminals. It is not going away.

Do you realise the vast number of “backdoors” hackers have access to these days? A backdoor is a system or appliance that has poor security connected by a network of sorts to a more secure system that holds valuable information.

For example – your intelligent fridges, connected to the internet that tell you when to order more groceries or even order them for you from an online store – this is connected to your home network, where you now do most of your work, which you also connect to your law firm network. Backdoors flapping around in the wind…

Train your staff to be aware of cybersecurity vulnerabilities – for example not clicking on the phishing attack emails, in fact not clicking on anything that is not part of their job.

What is your plan of action when you do get attacked? Do you pay ransoms? How do you communicate this to clients/suppliers/staff/partners?

Do you realise that systems that integrate with your systems are all potential targets for hackers – it does not have to come from your own system/users/computers.

Where to start?

  1. Upskill yourself and staff
  2. Crown Jewels – what would bring your law firm to it’s knees?
  3. Find it, secure it – secure your crown jewels.
  4. Have a plan – Who to contact, what to do. Do an attack simulation run.
  5. Invest and Protect – Invest in securing your data, insure against an attack.

Ben Groot – CEO Lexa
Legal Matter Management Made Easy – the Lexa Way

Simplify communication between attorneys and their clients.

Communication is normally broken because:

  • Different systems of communication – WhatsApp, email, SMS, phone
  • System failures – Hard drive crashes, WhatsApp on new device etc
  • Waiting for feedback from others, before you can update others
  • Reporting to all parties is time consuming.

Lexa addresses these communication issues by:

  • Reduces costs per matter
  • Ease of use
  • Entire matter management
  • Integrates with the vendor systems
  • Automated reporting – like comparing attorney performance in the firm.

Mary O’Carroll – Chief Community Officer, Ironclad, Inc
The Legal Department of Tomorrow

Focus innovation in the right place – find a real need to be addressed.

Sometimes people involved in the process don’t know what they need – for example, they have become used to the way things work, even though the existing process screams for change.

Steve Jobs – “People don’t know what they want until you show them.”

Lean on the power of the community. Mine the wisdom of the people, never innovate inside a bubble – keep bouncing the ideas off others.

Have ambitious goals – don’t innovate by digitizing the manual process – look at the process and see if it is still relevant and can it be changed to improve the process and end result.

Work out how to get people to want the new system, and always focus of the ease of use for the users.

To wrap up the day, I think the two things that stood out for me in legal innovation, from all presentations:

  1. Find the need and address the “What is in it for me?” for the users
  2. Ease of use for the user.

Oh…AND….Hackers are coming for your data, be prepared!

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