The legal profession and senior corporate executives are continually being introduced to new technology designed to improve productivity, cost-efficiency, and service quality. But reaping the highest value from legal tech innovations requires putting it in the hands of the most capable legal talent.
In the past few years, the environment in which corporate general counsel and law firms operate has experienced tremendous change. And during that time the pace of technological advancement seems to have accelerated. Whether performing corporate in-house legal duties or practicing in a traditional firm, the workload grows as the pressure to reduce costs becomes more intense.
Overcoming the challenge presented by the accelerated pace of change, heavier workloads, and a renewed emphasis on cost containment means finding a way to do more with less. This is where technology and legal talent intersect. Hiring more employees is no solution when a company’s budget is under pressure, nor is adding technology with which existing staff is unfamiliar.
The answer is using the right people with the appropriate expertise who employ the most efficient technology at a manageable cost to perform the tasks you need when you need them.
No firm or business can retain a bottomless pool of experts whose experience handling a full catalog of issues is unmatched. The reality is that even the best organizations need to look outside their walls for specialized legal skills. When the need arises, the mission is to find a source that can provide exceptional legal talent with a heightened ability to adeptly manage a complex legal matter. On another occasion, a corporation or law firm will need a reliable agent to assemble a team of certified experts in a given legal practice area to collaborate on a large project using the most cutting-edge technology to meet the shortest delivery dates and reduce costs.
The most successful convergence of technology and legal talent occurs when lawyers with the highest level of competence are given the most advanced and efficient tools.
Whether the assignment involves the managed review of millions of documents and data points of discovery in high-stakes litigation, handling a complex corporate merger, or providing high-volume, process-driven legal work, only the most proficient lawyers working with the most contemporary technology should be considered.
Today, both traditional law firms and in-house corporate counsel are increasing reliance on agencies that maintain relationships with an extensive network of thoroughly vetted attorneys, including experts in every area of practice, who can be immediately drafte to serve clients’ needs, either individually or as a member of a closely managed team focusing on a single project.
These services are facilitated through the use of technology most fitting for the job. When appropriate, collaborating remotely is employed to encourage frequent, economical communication. If the matter is better suited to be addressed on-site, the technology is available to establish a secure, fully-equipped dedicated workspace in which only necessary personnel gain admittance and privileged communications are protected.
Technology Created Options for Legal Teams
The technology many veteran lawyers found to be alien and challenging a few years ago is now familiar to them and comfortable to use, saving the firm both time and expense. But those new skills required either individual or group training sessions followed by a practice period before the technology’s full value could be realized. And with the breakneck pace of technological development, by the time the new users obtain proficiency, the “new” technology is outdated.
Investing valuable financial resources to train novice users of new tech is far from lean operation. Today, large organizations in need of immediate specialized legal services or confronting seasonal spikes in workload have a cost-effective alternative that delivers best-in-class legal talent whose skills are tailored to their needs.
Perhaps no area of the law has been revolutionized more than the practice of e-discovery. Every case today necessarily involves some issue relating to data retention, email streams, texts, corporate financial records, demands for disclosure of research or testing results, recovery of internal company documents, telephone geolocation data, or other information generated, transmitted, or stored digitally. E-discovery litigation is so prominent that many firms employ an associate or partner who deals exclusively with those matters.
Lawyers who focus their practice on electronic discovery issues recognize the legal significance of a party’s chosen policy regarding the collection, preservation, and storage of data relevant to litigation. While firms continue to employ non-lawyer IT specialists, lawyers who engage primarily in the practice of e-discovery issues are far more advanced than most other attorneys in their grasp of digital technologies and their processes.
And clients are equally demanding of their legal counsel’s ability to provide reliable insight about information technology issues. A fast-growing number of clients need legal advice on topics related to cybersecurity, data protection, and other digital matters.
The intersection of technology and legal talent has produced remarkable improvements in the capacity of even smaller law firms to execute extraordinary tasks using their legal intellect and tools born from others’ ingenuity. One can only wonder what we will be using in five years.