We’re just back from the Legalweek 2018 conference in New York, where legal technology was the talk of the town. This is usually our first major legal technology event of the year, and it was a great way to start 2018. We always come back to work fired up with new ideas and new connections. If you missed it, here are a few thoughts about what dominated the discussions this year and what these conversations mean to us at Litera Microsystems.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As it has been for a while, AI wasn’t a major theme for Legalweek 2018—it remains the major theme in legal technology. From technology-assisted review (TAR) and predictive coding within e-discovery to the ethical implications of letting machines making decisions, AI is still a big buzzword.
But in good news, the focus of AI is maturing. When AI was brand new, we were all excited (understandably, we think) about what it could do and how it represented the future of technology. Now, AI development is turning outward, emphasizing how it can help you, the end user. For example, AI allows us to build contract review software that can recognize the same legal concept—say, choice of law—no matter what specific words you use to express that concept. The time that this saves our customers in correctly recognizing what clauses are present and which are missing from a contract allows them to focus on the human elements of practicing law. As for e-discovery, courts no longer just tolerate AI; they now practically expect that major litigation will use AI technology for processing electronically stored information.
Legal technology companies are also helping customers by concentrating their AI efforts on cloud- and web-based user interfaces. Avoiding on-site hardware installation saves money and time by removing the need to buy expensive servers or to keep them—and their accompanying software—up to date and secure.
Finally, we were glad to see several discussions differentiating AI from automation. For all its appeal, AI isn’t “better” than automation—each has its place, depending on what users need to accomplish with their technology. We were especially pleased to hear more emphasis on how legal professionals can better manage their documents and leverage automation to improve their documents. Bringing AI and automation together offers the best of both worlds, and it’s what we’re most excited about this year at Litera Microsystems.
2. Security and Leadership Were on Everyone’s Mind
From data privacy to the European Union’s imminent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), speakers and participants everywhere were concerned about maintaining information security in an ever-more-complex world of varied data sources and silos. This year, the concern went beyond preparing for the standard cyberattack. From the very first keynote address, by former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, to a final panel discussion about “fake news,” Legalweek set a tone that emphasized the need for broader leadership from the legal community.
We have long seen the value of keeping your documents secure and confidential, so we’re glad this topic is getting the attention it deserves. We believe that legal professionals are among the best-equipped both to protect private information and to lead our communities; the dedication and measured thought that it takes to work in the law is a part of why we’ve always enjoyed building tools to support legal practices.
3. Costs Are Still a Driving Concern, But Metrics and Analytics Offer Solutions
Technological innovation has been a major driver of law firms’ ability to control costs. But not all technology (or all innovation) saves time or money. We were interested to see several discussions of how legal professionals are using metrics and analytics to track their spending and to assess the benefits of potential tools. Visual analytics, in particular, are a key part in how data is being represented—enabling users to understand more quickly and completely where their data is and how it’s being used.
If your metrics show that you’re still spending too much of your valuable time wrangling documents, whether it’s figuring out document formatting in the creation stage or keeping different versions straight in the collaboration phase, Litera Microsystems can help!
We are always grateful for the opportunity to attend conferences like Legalweek. We bring back more than just new contacts and fresh information: we return with a renewed curiosity and excitement about how we can improve and expand our products to better serve our customers in the year to come.