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Tackling Diversity, Pandemic, and Legal Tech Innovation at Legalweek

We were fortunate enough to be presenters at the February session of ALM’s Legalweek(year).  Like others, we took full advantage of the other keynotes and sessions – and it all made a unique and valuable experience.

Each of Legalweek(year)’s virtual events hits topics ranging from Legal Operations to legal automation, legal business strategies, litigation and data science, data privacy and cybersecurity, alternative legal services, practice management, and more. “Curated deep dives” into the newest legal technology are part of the mix, as well.

The events are being held monthly through July, with another six months of other content being provided, as well.  You can learn more about upcoming Legalweek(year) events here.

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Mitratech played its part

The Mitratech team was on hand, presenting our session on “Driving Transformation and Innovation Using Workflow Automation,” which featured Brian McGovern, GM, Workflow Solutions at Mitratech, Justin Hectus, CIO/CISO, Keesal, Young & Logan, and Stephanie Lamoureaux, Legal Operations Lead, Square.

Each of them has been a leader in getting legal departments and the organizations they serve to recognize the transformative potential of legal tech.  Workflow automation, in particular, not only delivers immediate efficiencies that justify investment almost immediately: It fosters long-term cross-disciplinary collaboration, eliminates risk to the enterprise, and a plethora of other benefits that play out over the longer term.

Diversity was a keynote concern

The February event featured daily keynotes by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Joshua Walker, a Stanford law professor and author of “On Legal AI.”  One extremely timely keynote came from Stacey Abrams, touching on the legal industry’s role in the larger issues confronting the country.

Only the day before her keynote address, Ms. Abrams received her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to achieve nonviolent change through voting.  As a former tax lawyer, legislator, and gubernatorial candidate, she made it clear to everyone on hand that much work remains when it comes to driving diversity and creating opportunity, in both society and the business world.

“We need lawyers and paralegals and assistants and staffers to understand that—while the target may not look like you—if you break democracy, you break it for everyone.”

Photo Credit: The Circus, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Change management demands legal tech collaboration

One of our most notable clients was part of a panel, “In-House Legal Leaders Discuss: Innovative Techniques for Using Technology to Reduce Legal Spend,” that drilled into the need for planning and analysis by in-house legal teams to succeed at change management during rapidly changing times.

Connie Brenton, VP, Law, Technology and Operations at NetApp, said people think of legal tech as being “complex.” Yet, as she pointed out, there are simple implementations, such as e-signature and workflow management systems, that deliver quick efficiencies without a steep learning curve.

Still, to take full advantage of new legal tech and deliver on its potential, legal departments will need to work with other departments and business units.  When those technologies can scale across the enterprise, enterprise-sized positive outcomes occur.

The pandemic has supercharged legal tech changes

Sessions directly explored the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the legal industry, as you’d expect.  But even in those that were more focused on legal tech, the pandemic has a presence.

The accelerating movement toward legal tech first gathered force because of the pressures on in-house legal departments to show the kind of performance and productivity that companies had previously expected from other business units.  The pandemic kicked this evolution into a more energized and urgent state, especially when it comes to legal tech adoption: Efficiency demands aside, it’s very nearly impossible for a modern legal department to function without legal tech adoption when its staff is scattered across a remote workscape.

More work, but less outside spent: Approximately 71% of in-house counsel said they had increased workloads during the pandemic and 33% said they reduced outside spend, according to a survey by e-discovery software provider Logikcull.

In its promotional materials, ALM referred to the “the tectonic shifts in the industry,” and that’s exactly right.  However, it once seemed that those shifts occurred at the same rate as continental drift: Inexorably, perhaps, but slowly and gradually.  The pandemic and other forces have had more of the effect of an earthquake, and the aftershocks are only now beginning to arrive.

That’s why the Legalweek(year) format, with its five innovative virtual conferences, will give attendees a valuable way to keep their fingers on the pulse of those changes on a consistent, ongoing basis this year.  It’s why we’re strong supporters of this series, and it’s why you’ll find Mitratech at the next event, held in March.

Learn more about that session on how to “Expect Success – Setting Achievable Goals for your Legal Team.”