This past week’s ILTA conference was full of great insight about disruptive technologies, virtual law practice and the changes that are expected in practice management as a result. I wasn’t able to attend the conference in person, but I managed to collect materials and information presented at key sessions. Here’s what I picked up without the travel expenses and jet lag.
The Legal Current blog posted about an ILTA session entitled “A New View of the Automated Law Firm.” The session explained how the commoditization of legal services is leading to the need for automation of the workflow in law practices. Document assembly and automation will help to streamline the delivery of legal services to meet the consumer demand for legal services based on a fixed fee model. Here are the slides from that presentation.
Darryl Mountain, expert on disruptive technologies and document automation, and Marc Lauritsen, co-chair of the ABA elawyering task force and author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Working Smarter With Knowledge Tools, presented a session entitled “Harnessing Disruptive Technologies”. The slides for that presentation are here. They covered the nature of disruptive technologies and look at technologies that can be used to create “substantive legal work.” The presentation slides cover document assembly, web-based document automation and virtual law practice. Lauritsen covered choiceboxing, an interactive decision support system which has multiple potential forms of application in elawyering and choice management. The slides also list two stumbling blocks to the use of disruptive technologies in law practice: “1. the knowledge acquisition bottleneck and 2. ethical rules of the legal profession.”
Sally Gonzalez, a director at Hildebrandt Baker Robbins gave a presentation entitled “Technologies to Support the Virtual Practice.” The slides from the presentation focus more on virtual lawyering for BigLaw and seem to take a different, broader definition of virtual law practice that includes the Axiom and VLP model. So there’s more content on the internal collaboration between members of the firm and outsourcing rather than the actual delivery of legal services to clients online. The slides show how the Thomson Reuter’s Engage product which launched this past spring works to fascilitate elawyering and alternative fee arrangements for larger law firms.
There was another session on cloud computing in law practice management entitled “Collaboration in the Cloud: The Paradigm Shift”. From the slides it reads like it covered the basics of cloud computing and SaaS as it relates to the security and confidentiality required by legal professionals, but also the cost-savings and productivity benefits to law firms and their clients. Another session’s slides focused purely on the security, privacy and records risks of cloud computing.
I’d love to hear from anyone who was actually at these sessions who can share what the Q&A portions were like. It sounds like the focus was more geared to BigLaw than for small firms or solos like myself, but with cloud computing, disruptive technologies become affordable and as easily implemented by a solo practitioner as they are by a large law firm. There were some twitter comments I was able to follow, but it would be great to know about the overall take of the presenters and attendees on topics like client portals and the online delivery of legal services.