LawTech Silicon Valley may be over, but the topics and themes raised by the esteemed panelists, moderators, and participants continue to resonate. I came away impressed with the enthusiasm from all involved for the near-term future of legal tech proliferation. While traditionally slow-moving when it comes to the adoption of novel technologies, the legal community and partnering vendors seem to be picking up momentum—particularly where clear cost- and time-savings or enhanced client outreach are possible. Exciting times!
Here are a few of the highlights and key themes:
Predictive coding is galvanizing the legal community
Predictive coding was discussed substantially in four of the sessions, and mentioned in several others, serving as a primary example of “next-generation” technology (finally) reaching the legal marketplace. While viewpoints varied—with some panelists expressing skepticism at the range of application, and others trumpeting the potential for savings—all agreed that predictive coding was a significant milestone on the path of bringing appropriately cutting-edge technology to bear on legal tasks and issues. Apt timing, one might say, as we just released our own take on predictive coding (learn more on that here).
Lawyers deserve better tools, but also have the responsibility to put them to use appropriately
Technologist and Everlaw Founder AJ Shankar put forth a powerful mission statement calling for technology vendors to rise to the challenge of providing lawyers tools that matched the level of sophistication and ease of use prevalent in the consumer tech space. Bolstering that point, Shana E. Scarlett, a partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, emphasized how far we still need to go—sharing an anecdote about the continued dearth of sleek and specialized litigation support tools, such as platforms to organize and present in-trial exhibits. Moderator Judge Kleinberg deftly voiced the sensible caveat that technology is not an answer unto itself, but rather a tool that—like any other—must be employed thoughtfully.
The legal community is warming to consumer-focused online legal services
Jay Mandel of Rocket Lawyer led a fascinating discussion centered on the growing acceptance of online and self-help legal services and related marketing. Traditionally an area subject to grave skepticism by legal organizations and gatekeepers, the prohibitions against online marketing and service provision seem to be waning. The panelists trumpeted the opportunities this presented not just for new potential growth channels, but also as a win for the estimated 80% of Americans who struggle to find or afford routine legal service. Technology as an egalitarian force has long been a feature of other domains; the prospect of similar benefits flowing into the legal space has real potential to be a game changer. Certainly a narrative to follow in the months to come.