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What is the best Legal IT event of the year?

BLFT-2016-250-x-260-e1447325650461

What is the best Legal IT event of the year?

As a busy Head of IT for your firm and with so many invites to so many events, the question is always which one or two events do you pick?

As both exhibitors and guests at many of these events over the years, DMC Canotec, pioneers of the “Less Paper Law Firm” have supported most over the past decade in addition to hosting our own annual Legal Forums. We recognise the commitment the delegates make attending these events and how important the content and effective that time has to be. But as they say, it only takes the unearthing of one gem that you can take back and apply in your firm to make it worthwhile. So what are the best events for extracting those “gems”? What are your favourites and why?

As supporters, exhibitors and organisers, we are always keen to know what makes a great event. From our own perspective and experiences over the years, we have our favourites and for quality time comparing notes and sharing best practice, the two day forums of “Alternative Legal IT” and “The Legal Leaders Forum” take some beating. But not all of us can spare 48 hours away from the flight deck which is why, this year’s “British Legal Technology Forum” as a condensed, one day event, packed a punch, surpassing all expectations, not just in attendance but in content too.

Over 1200 attendees went to this year’s sell out event and many of the presentations were standing room only, testament to the quality of the speakers and relevance of the topics. The challenge was picking which one you were going to attend and stick with knowing that on one of the other stages, you might just be missing out on something even more revealing…at times it felt a little like speed dating. A thought for the organisers going forwards is perhaps providing recordings of the presentations for those who simply couldn’t get round to sit in on them all. The overview video however does a nice job of capturing the spirit and focus of the event…

 

Alongside many of our customers, DMC Canotec were in attendance to look at emerging technology and innovation and gather feedback from Legal IT leaders on the common challenges being discussed at the event on and away from the presentation stages.

From listening to many of the presentations and the feedback from the delegates, there seemed to be five clear themes;

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • The PaperliteLaw Firm
  • The inevitable adoption of Cloud Technology
  • Security and Data Protection
  • Change is inevitable, embrace it

Artificial Intelligence

It is clear that AI is no longer a theoretical concept or futuristic debate. Evidenced at BLTF, Artificial Intelligence is developing at an impressive rate and in some areas it is already in Law.  March 2016 saw a milestone moment as AI system AlphaGo (designed by Google owned, DeepMind) defeated Lee Sedol- one of the best human players of an ancient Asian board game named ‘Go’. This AI victory, beautifully displayed the ever growing power and enormously mysterious talents of Artificial Intelligence…Board games are one thing, complex Legal advice is another and the fee earner’s intelligence and experience remains irreplaceable…for now!

The Lawyer is not likely to be replaced by the Robot anytime soon, indeed not in our lifetime according to most at BLTF but the concept of machine replacing elements of human work, is already here.

Automated document capture and rules based scanning, routing and workflow is a good example where AI can recognise and route documents intelligently to the correct fee earning teams or individuals. Speeding up the process and taking out unnecessary touches of the document. Find out more about how DMC Canotec can help your Law Firm in this area here.

The Paperlite Law Firm

A record number of firms were embarking on “Paperlite” projects in 2016, an area that has traditionally had cultural resistance despite the many benefits that a more agile digital workflow can bring.  Driving this is the need to optimise people, premises and process and a distinct desire for greater collaboration, security and resilience, something that can be easily implemented through digital workflow rather than http://humanrightsfilmnetwork.org/topamax traditional paper based workflow. Embracing “paperlite” can bring with it greater agility, allowing firms to share documents and information wherever, whenever and get legal fee earning eyes on the documents faster, delivering a better service to their clients.

Find out more about the Less Paper Office here.

The Adoption of Cloud Technology

Over the course of the event, there were numerous presentations on Cloud based services and cloud based technologies. It is a general acceptance that we are all going to eventually move across to the cloud as it greatly enables a more agile and collaborative platform for client services and arguably better defence and security for a law firms information.

Amongst the high number of cloud providers at the event, there was a strong presence of emerging challengers all striving for the legal document management crown. These challengers have built platforms on cloud based services delivering more scalable and flexible services. One such example was growing Cloud Based DM provider, Net Documents.

Security and Data Protection

Several presentations and many subsequent conversations over lunch touched on the ever present threat of data breach, malware and hacking and there is no doubt above all of the topics, security was the one on most firms radar and the one that is not going away…

Change is inevitable…embrace it

The legal sector continues to go through a period of change with a number of mergers and acquisitions as well as new challengers entering the market embracing a much more disruptive business model, potentially dismantling the typical Legal services model. Adopting change and enabling efficiency to deliver more agile services, better value and better client experience is a must for all firms wanting to thrive not just survive.

Most firms accept they have to change, the challenge is often how given historic structures, culture and the appetite to embrace new ways of working. DMC Canotec’s last Legal Forum covered the topic of how to deliver change in the context of embracing “Paperlite” with a panel of leading IT Directors sharing best practice around change delivery.

Download the Change Delivery White Paper for The Less Paper Law Firm by completing the following form:

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A good example of what is possible when you embrace change is the rise of new challenger/disrupter firms who are breaking the mould of how to deliver legal services, delivered with a more technology driven, agile service. If anyone is likely to embrace AI, it is these firms. There is much that the more traditional firm can learn from how they are enabling greater efficiency and productivity from a smaller footprint.

 

Discussions around change also focused on how law firms can harness both the experience and enthusiasm of generations ‘X’ and ‘Y’ into their firms vision and culture to deliver improvement.

 

Another resounding concern it seemed was that law firms feel they are not using their existing tech to its full potential to harness what the business really needs, let alone looking at new innovation. Many firms wanted to get more from what they had, aligning it closer to the needs of the teams, joining it up in a more effective manner, evolution not revolution.

 

The primary focus around this appeared to be on better understanding of working habits and process and better education of staff, driving the adoption of best practice leveraging their investment better in current systems.

As the financial climate cools, we see this as an emerging topic; getting more out of the firms’ current estate and infrastructure to optimise its people, premises and processes rather than embarking on high risk and high investment overhaul projects.

Summary

In summary, this year’s British Legal Technology Forum was a wonderful display of the “Best of British” for innovative providers and innovative law firms and a great insight into how many firms are approaching the ever evolving Legal landscape.

The Machines are coming, but for the immediate future, this remains a people business where trust, knowledge and sound advice are still the most valuable assets.

Arnie could well say “I’ll be back” but the Legal Industry is not convinced…Yet.

These are merely the views of David Newman, Director DMC Canotec, Head of Legal Services, DMC Canotec.

david.newman@dmccanotec.co.uk

01425 481250

David Newman

David Newman

Director & Head of Legal

Email: david.newman@dmccanotec.co.uk

DDI: 01425 481250

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