Take-Aways from LegalTech New York
Last week, we asked a handful of legal technologists to be our reporters at LegalTech New York. The scoop? Cybersecurity topped the hot topics list (made hotter still with news that another big health-care company had been breached). But security shared the LTNY headlines with Monica Bay — the long-time Law Technology News Editor-in-Chief announced her retirement.
As for new product bombshells, it’s relatively quiet out there, with upgrades, tweaks and collaboration among technology companies filling the news. Keeping things interesting, though, the ALM and the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics collaborated to bring in seven start-up exhibitors — and some fresh air.
Now, in their own words, here’s what our LTNY reporters found most intriguing.
Innovation in the Expo Hall. The CodeX exhibitors really displayed some cutting-edge innovations, and their products were fascinating. I was particularly impressed with the demo of WizDocs, a nifty application for managing corporate legal transactions and records. I could see myself using it daily to help streamline transactions. Another CodeX exhibitor that caught my eye was Lawdingo, which has developed a unique process speeding up the matching and intake process between lawyers and potential clients. By far the funniest thing I saw was the “Cards Against Lawyering” giveaway at the Recommind booth. Sounds like a game worth playing!
Shift in the Cloud. Several panels, speakers and discussions indicated it’s time to shift the conversation about the cloud away from “is it secure enough for litigation?” and toward “how do we make it as secure as we can” since it’s clearly here to stay. One prominent legal luminary called for an official termination of the cloud debate and said we’d be better off just looking forward and focusing our energies on how we address all security concerns, privacy issues and related issues.
Talking Turkey About Cybersecurity. The buzzword coming out of LegalTech New York was no surprise: cybersecurity, cybersecurity, cybersecurity! The mainstream media coverage of corporate data breaches in 2014 has propelled cybersecurity — and the consequences of failed security — into popular social consciousness. Law firms serve as highly vulnerable targets of penetration for corporate client data, and they are faced with the compelling choice to either dramatically increase internal security systems, processes and protocols or turn to external providers for support.
Vendors at LegalTech — both technology companies and technology consultants — came ready to talk turkey. There are three main cybersecurity service offerings, from the vendor perspective: preventive data breach planning and penetration-testing consulting services, cybersecurity breach audit/response, and security software. Currently, the larger consulting firms have the market cornered on cybersecurity consulting and audits, but middle-market legal technology service companies, specifically e-discovery companies, are quickly integrating cybersecurity services into their portfolio to get “stickier” with corporate and law firm clients. (The hope is that cybersecurity consulting services will be a gateway to driving more business downstream, in more voluminous and profitable verticals.)
The conference was also a turning point for Law Technology News: Monica Bay has retired as LTN Editor-in-Chief, and Erin Harrison will replace her.
Attendance on the vendor floor felt full with exhibitors, but light on people traffic. I think the one thing on everyone’s LegalTech 2016 wish list is that the event not be scheduled during the first week of February. Weather impacted many planned business opportunities for the second year in a row.
Jared Coseglia is the Founder and President of TRU Staffing Partners, and has been a go-to individual in the legal technology staffing industry for over a decade. He has successfully placed more than 1,800 people in full-time and temporary positions at the AmLaw 200, Fortune 1000, and within the legal services provider community. TRU celebrates its five-year anniversary this year. Follow Jared on Twitter @jaredcoseglia.
View from the Bench. One of the things that I really appreciated about this year’s LegalTech New York was that the judicial perspective was brought to the forefront. It is one thing to hear from vendors and practicing lawyers about issues surrounding e-discovery and information governance, and LegalTech traditionally has plenty of that. It’s quite another to get advice directly from the judges who are ruling on cases.
This year’s conference featured a terrific — if somewhat sobering — judges panel that centered on the profession’s stubborn unwillingness to move past “discovery wars” to more thoughtful and cost-effective e-discovery strategies. Specifically, the judges referenced lawyers’ preference for manual document review over technology-assisted methods (e.g., predictive coding), which not only save money but are also more effective in locating relevant documents. The judges also discussed lawyers’ perplexing reluctance to pursue Rule 502(d) orders, which protect the waiver of privilege when such documents are mistakenly produced to the opposing party.
These themes were echoed in the first annual “Federal Judges Survey on E-Discovery Best Practices & Trends,” released during the conference by my company, Exterro. The survey included responses from 22 federal judges, such as Judges Frank Maas (S.D.N.Y.), Elizabeth Laporte (N.D. Cal.), Andrew J. Peck (S.D.N.Y.) and recently retired Judge John M. Facciola (D.D.C.), who all participated in the panel. The survey may have actually painted an even starker view than the panel. In the survey, not a single judge completely agreed with the statement that “The typical attorney appearing before them possesses the subject matter knowledge required to effectively counsel clients on e-discovery matters.” Responses and associated comments in the 15-question survey indicate that e-discovery incompetence and an overall lack of engagement on the part of attorneys are largely fueling the problems we’re seeing surrounding e-discovery inefficiencies, exorbitant costs and the lack of cooperation.
Taken together, the panel and survey offered a terrific and somewhat rare glimpse into the view from the bench.
Bill Piwonka, Chief Marketing Officer at Exterro, has extensive experience managing B2B marketing operations. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @bpiwonka.
Security Features at the Forefront. This year there was even more focus on security — and what the legal industry needs to consider in keeping data confidential and secure. The very first keynote panel session on day one, “Cybersecurity, Privacy and Data Protection: Legal Challenges in the Digital Age,” was dedicated to the topic, and there were many security-focused companies on the show exhibit floor.
One of the mainstays represented in this area was Citrix with its ShareFile service. ShareFile is a file-sharing service that helps people exchange large files easily, securely and professionally and allows users secure access to their files from any device. ShareFile was touting two recent offerings: RightSignature and a brand-new integration allowing users to scan files directly into the ShareFile application. The RightSignature app allows users to send documents directly and securely from ShareFile to others to secure a signature. This feature is made even more convenient because documents can be sent from anywhere using a mobile device or tablet. The app also has an elegant, intuitive user interface for both document senders and signers. With the new direct scanning functionality (so new that ShareFile didn’t have marketing materials available), you avoid having to copy a file once it has been scanned. This ensures greater security and is, of course, much more efficient.
As the need and concern for effective data security grows, I’m sure we’ll continue to see great advancements in this space.
Jami Gyurci is Senior Marketing Manager, BigHand, leading provider of voice productivity software in the legal industry. BigHand is previewing BigHand Now, a revolutionary new workflow tool for law firms.