The legal opinions in this article are the author’s own, not WorldCC’s, and this is not legal advice.
Innovative technology has disrupted long-standing customs of the legal profession. Changing regulatory frameworks are creating growing demand for regional and category expertise. High firm billing rates, vague retainer arrangements, and poor customer service are frustrating clients, and these shifting market dynamics, combined with powerful new data analytics capabilities, will oblige better and more defensible decisions by all parties in the future. While the legal business as we have known it is already changing distinctly, the technological shift enabling that change will deliver new high-value benefits to both clients and firms of all sizes. This article explains why these trends are developing fast and how Globality and other firms, in response, are capturing successful ways forward.
Privacy and security concerns take center stage
With growing legislation and rampant breaches, we’re seeing increased attention on advising clients in these areas, and firms ensuring their own systems are better protected. Breach-related costs and liability—litigation, government investigations and fines, audit, and response—compel it.
The American Bar Association’s 2021 Legal Tech Report 1 revealed that 25% of respondent firms reported a data breach; that number is steadily increasing. The report states: “Many law firms report that they are not using security measures that are viewed as basic by security professionals and are used more frequently in other businesses and professions.”
The 2022 Morrison & Foerster Privacy & Data Security Report 2 predicts that privacy and security will remain a top priority: “Given the recent changes by some of the large tech firms making it more difficult to track users across platforms, and the popularity of those changes, we should expect additional states to also propose legislation shoring up consumer privacy protections.”
Given this, it is crucial to take these concerns seriously and properly safeguard against them.
The Data Revolution is Real
The data revolution is real. Since 2020, the profession realized that using analytics to extract insights will enable better decision-making across a wide array of legal functions. A 2020 study conducted by ALM and LexisNexis®3 Legal & Professional showed 70% of AmLaw 200 firms using data analytics. 81% cite client perception as the primary driver of using analytics, while 73% believe that gaining a competitive advantage is the biggest benefit for using analytics. Moreover, of the law firms that aren’t leveraging data analytics, 74% believe that there is value in using these tools.
The numbers do not lie. Thanks to data analytics, law firms have unprecedented capability to assess client profitability and business development return on investment (ROI). By mining massive data sets like docket data, legislation, case opinions, and contracts, firms can weigh which cases are likely to be profitable, understand industry trends, and measure the efficacy of marketing efforts. Data can also help demonstrate competitive advantage to clients, determine litigation strategy, and better manage the firm’s time. Of the law firms that currently leverage data analytics, 98% say that their law firm’s performance has improved.
Shrewd General Counsels (GCs) are optimistic, understanding the power of these new technologies to make their departments run more efficiently, make their lawyers better at their jobs, and bring better value and results to their organizations.
Advanced Technology Grows
Many in the legal profession have likely heard something about artificial intelligence (AI) by now. But in this nascent stage of a game-changing technology, most lawyers (along with lots of other professionals) are in the early stages of exploring how AI can benefit them and their firms.
A recent 2020 RELX survey4 of senior legal executives revealed that 87% of law firms are leveraging AI technology, a significant increase from 54% in 2018. As the study states, there is a “perceived link between technological supremacy and economic growth.”
Lawyers are seeing the emergence of AI and algorithm-based technologies become more commonplace. Nearly every aspect of legal practice is ripe for AI-enabled process improvement and greater efficiencies—research, trial preparation, contract management, panel evaluation and management, spend and matter management, and e-billing. The emerging generation of tech-savvy lawyers will embrace more advanced technological solutions.
The Immediate Value of AI
There are multiple levels of value for GCs in using AI in legal procurement. Identifying the best outside counsel for any engagement becomes faster and more efficient. With specificity, thoroughness, and quality of information about the pool of available providers—wherever they may be in the world—GCs can far more quickly and effectively source the right services.
Using an AI-based platform will also save money on legal fees, because GCs will be able to compare the best lawyers for a particular engagement and mine data about them to drive down costs. Law firms will also benefit from using AI by saving the effort of responding to those requests for proposals (RFPs) that they are unlikely to win, because they are not really the best fit. By using an AI-based platform, they will be more readily considered for other new opportunities to which they may be better matched.
Most large corporations already work with the best-known law firms; it takes excellent legal support to get to that level of growth. But a company’s go-to firm may not be the best solution for every business need. With the burdensome process of scoping new requirements, creating and issuing RFPs, then finding and sourcing new providers, it is often easier just to stick with incumbents, even if they may not be the best match for a new requirement or type of project. This is where AI can really make an impact.
This is not to suggest that the large incumbent firms a company currently uses should or will be tossed aside. In fact, as providers, they may in turn make advantageous use of the Globality5 platform. But one firm cannot excel in everything.
Take commercial litigation, for example. In my own prior experience as a GC, my employer was a defendant in commercial litigation. Our first time in court, using our established counsel, we had a hung jury. Upon retrial, with a different, specialized attorney, we won. The attorney was the only differing factor. Any GC with a few years in the role has likely had a similar experience.
Automation is the Future
Perhaps the most significant benefit is automation of complex tasks so that they are done more efficiently and with better results every time. While the skills and specializations of practicing law are hard-learned and of high value, there are aspects to running a legal function that are ripe for what AI can do. Procurement, an ongoing challenge for general counsels, is one of those.
Not only can AI technology help to match GCs with the best law firms in different jurisdictions, it can help clients and lawyers to understand the best ways of communications with one another and enable them to work together more effectively.
A particularly exciting AI innovation is natural language processing (NLP) of messages sent between clients and law firms. NLP can provide insights into how clients and lawyers interact, and how they prefer to work. For example, NLP can help determine patterns in communication behavior, such as preferences for message length, response time, and frequency of messaging. NLP also has the power to extract intent and analyze sentiments, detecting frustration or anger and suggesting practical guidance to response the issue.
At Globality, we are applying AI to upend the traditional method of sourcing legal and other Business-to-Business (B2B) services, providing an alternative approach that quickly matches GCs to the best service providers at the right price for every project.
For example, Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH,6 one of the ten largest law firms in Germany, is well positioned to help international enterprises that want to enter or acquire in the German market. That is expertise that home-country firms just would not have. Luther traditionally spent large amounts of time responding to cumbersome RFPs, but Globality’s AI-based solution helps potential customers find the firm more easily; Luther can present a legal framework that first helps clients better understand what services they need and then engage accordingly with clients it can truly help. This saves the client and the provider time, frustration, and expense.
Axis Law Chambers7 in Pakistan offers another great example. Given its location, Axis finds that many clients are not sure of the regulatory regime when entering the region. Through the Globality platform, GCs seeking legal assistance in Pakistan can be matched to Axis to take advantage of its specialized expertise. That is particularly useful for getting insider know-how on things like how long it takes to process an application or the timeline for a court process in Pakistan. Because the Globality platform helps Axis share information with the client throughout the entire process, its clients never feel blindsided or unprepared when obstacles crop up.
The Way Forward
These technology trends have been growing for several years, with Big Data and AI8 disrupting many industries, especially consumer-facing ones. Now, even deeply traditional categories like Legal have experienced disruption.
AI presents a revolutionary opportunity to disrupt the highly traditional domain of legal services, where buyer–provider relationships are often based on years of building trust. While new technology will never negate or replace those relationships, as GCs give considered weight to suggested new providers who match their needs exactly, AI offers the potential to break the mold and improve the playing field for them and providers alike.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Brooks is General Manager, Legal Sector, at Globality. He graduated from Dartmouth College with honors and received his MBA from the Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth. Following business school, Brooks did market research and long-range planning for Tonka Corporation. He graduated from The University of Michigan Law School and practiced law with Shanley & Fisher before joining the Hyatt enterprise in 1979. Brooks was a Senior Partner at Hyatt Legal Services which became the largest law firm in the United States. In 1990, the firm spun off its legal plans business into Hyatt Legal Plans, with Brooks as COO. He became CEO when the firm sold Hyatt Legal Plans to MetLife in 1997.
Globality connects multinational companies with the world’s best service suppliers at the right price for every project. Through its AI-powered Platform and Smart Sourcing technologies, Globality is bringing digital transformation to the procurement industry. Globality’s AI replaces the archaic analog request for proposal (RFP), efficiently and effectively matching companies with outstanding suppliers that meet their specific project needs, and cutting the sourcing process from months to hours while delivering savings of 20% or more for companies. Learn more at www.globality.com.
- Legal Tech Report
- Morrison & Foerster Privacy & Data Security Report
- ALM and LexisNexis® study
- RELX survey
- Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
- Axis Law Chambers
- Ref: Big Data and Artificial Intelligence: How They Work Together