With the legal profession going through a period of unprecedented disruption caused by new players and technologies, we keep hearing that we need to be smarter in preparing ourselves for the future of law.
That’s why Lawyers Weekly decided that, for the first time ever, it was going to facilitate an event to help legal professionals stay at the cutting edge of technological change and business innovation.
The inaugural Lawyers Weekly Future Forum was held on 9 November in Sydney and on 11 November in Melbourne, with jam-packed sessions featuring some of the most prolific legal and tech experts.
In case you missed it, here are the top tips from each session at the inaugural Future Forum. We hope to see you there next year!
The future of law
Speaker: Peter Williams, founder, Deloitte Digital
Mr Williams kicked off the event, uncovering how legal professionals can effectively position their practices to ensure greater longevity.
Throughout his session he reiterated that rather than fearing change and the unknown, legal professionals should work together to drive new ways of thinking, for the benefit of clients and the industry at large.
“It’s not so much thinking ‘the robots are going to take our jobs’ or ‘the market is flat’ … but instead starting to think about the way lawyers operate and how we can improve on that,” he said.
“Often it’s very section-based. ‘We’re in the employment section’, ‘We’re in the insurance section’, ‘We’re in the property section’, ‘We’re in the corporate section’. There’s not a lot of work across, so it’s also starting to think about solutions through a collaboration of partnerships.”
But it’s not just about looking inside your own firm or even your own industry, Mr Williams said. It’s also about establishing ground with organisations to develop mutually beneficial working relationships.
“What sort of organisations can we marry up with that are going to generate work together? [At Deloitte] we partner with software companies, consulting engineering companies, driverless truck people, because our clients want a solution and we need to be really good at collaborating and organisation across ourselves,” he said.
“For example, if I’m doing something on blockchain and I’ve got one of the best payments experts in the planet sitting on the floor above me, why wouldn’t I be talking to them? So start to think beyond your own boundaries.”
• The future of law depends on professionals starting to look differently at how they operate.
• Collaboration across practices is key, as is looking outside your own firm and into the legal industry at large, as well as other professional services sectors.
• Don’t believe all the hype around technology.
How to revolutionise the way you practise law using mobile technology
Speaker: Bobbi Young, CEO, LEAP
Ms Young’s session focused on how mobile applications have made life easier and more convenient, allowing us to connect, share and simplify tasks. She also highlighted how legal professionals can use mobile technology to deliver excellent client service while maximising the growth of their client base – all using the technology at their fingertips.
“Mobile technology has changed the way that people discover and use services, so therefore shouldn’t you also look at what changes you can make so that you can offer and provide legal services to your clients, to be able to leverage off that technology as well?” she said.
One way to transform your practice is to get rid of those old, out-dated manila folders and make your mobile your go-to tool, Ms Young said.
“Working on the go is no longer the exception, it has become an expectation,” she said.
“Having a mobile working model is a win-win. Being able to work during a long commute or while waiting at court will keep your clients happy and it will help you clock off at a reasonable hour. No longer do you have to race back to the office to send that email or access that matter file.”
• Throw out the manila folder and make mobile your number one tool.
• Being accessible to clients and staff pays off.
• Automate work processes where possible.
Innovation is a state of mind
Speaker: James O’Loghlin, ABC TV host, The New Inventors
Also the MC of the event, Mr O’Loghlin shared a noteworthy session about how attendees can shift their mindset from habitual thinking to innovative thinking.
“The biggest barrier to innovation isn’t technological or economical, it’s psychological: something I like to call habitual thinking,” he told the crowd.
“You don’t wake up thinking, ‘I’m going to have a shower first, [or] maybe I’ll have breakfast first’. You just get up and go into auto-pilot.
“A lot of our work days are like that too, and that’s not wrong. Systems, processes [and] best practice make sense – they’re efficient and effective. My point is this: if we don’t find ways of stepping back and breaking out of habitual thinking and seeing everything we do with fresh eyes, then we don’t see the cold water we waste every time we turn on the hot tap. In a way, we over-prioritise the status quo and we find ourselves doing things the way we do them, not because we’ve decided that’s the best way but simply because that’s the way we do them.”
Mr O’Loghlin shared four strategies to help attendees step back, break out of habitual thinking and see opportunities for innovation.
1. Question everything
“Maybe you do 84 things. Question every one.
“You might find that for 83 of them you’re doing as well as you can, but the 84th there might be an opportunity for innovation there.”
2. Don’t let assumptions get in your way
“We all make assumptions. Every time you go through a green light, you’re assuming that the light facing the other way is red; you’re assuming the drivers coming the other way will see that red light; you’re assuming they know what it means and you’re assuming that they’ll obey that red signal and stop.
“What assumptions are you making about your business and about the lawyer-client relationship? What assumptions are you making about your clients and your competitors? Try and identify what they are and then challenge each one.”
3. Use your ideas, even if they’re not perfect
“Are there problems that you can’t solve? If so, can you reframe the question down to something a little less ambitious and maybe solve 60 per cent of the problem?
“Maybe there’s a 60 per cent solution you’ve already got that you haven’t used, because it’s not perfect. Use it. 60 per cent is a lot better than zero.”
4. Don’t be afraid of failure
“To have a good idea you need to have lots of bad ideas and you’ve got to find sensible ways of moving those ideas forward, failing quickly and cheaply with the ones that aren’t going to work and getting to the one that will make a sustainable business.”
Cyber security – understand what you are up against
Speaker: Chris Novak, director, investigative response, Verizon Enterprise Solutions (US)
Cyber attacks are on the rise and the reach of big data, digital media and emerging technologies is growing, as is the client demand for resilience in the legal profession.
In his session, Mr Novak shared insights from Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, lifting the lid on why legal firms are prime targets for cyber criminals and recommendations on what can be done to build up a defence.
Key findings shared from the report:
• 80 per cent of cyber attacks are financially motivated.
• 9 per cent of cyber attacks are espionage-related.
• Approximately 80 per cent of attacks are opportunistic, rather than targeted.
Mr Novak was asked by attendees how firms can protect themselves without spending a fortune on cyber security.
“I often find the best risk reduction is actually achieved by some of the most low-cost items,” he said.
“A lot of it is people-process aspects, so what I would encourage you to do is take a look at what you have from a policy and procedure standpoint and start there.
“It’s generally low-cost things to do with your own folks, or if your folks don’t have that knowledge and expertise you can bring in an outside consultant to help you, generally for little cost. The best part about it is that it essentially gives you your road map on how you can handle these security breaches, and at that point you can build a strategic road map over the course of months or years.”
Analytics and big data in law firms
Speaker: Bree Moody, executive director, commercial and strategy, LexisNexis Pacific
Ms Moody provided insights on how law firm clients are using analytics and big data to choose legal services. She highlighted how law firms can use the same analytics and big data to make them a more viable option for clients.
“How are you going to make sure your firms or your legal businesses remain relevant in the next five to 10 years, and what are the things you need to do … to ensure you are adding value to your customers and remaining as relevant as possible in the industry?” she asked the crowd.
Ms Moody then pointed to three big data and analytics areas law firms could look into:
1. Lifetime value assessments
“Regardless of the size or focus of your firm, all firms should have a lifetime value assessment of your client portfolio.
“This is where you should examine your full client history over a long or longer stretch of time – let’s say five years – rather than merely on how much revenue a client has produced for you in a previous year.”
2. Identify clients with cross-selling tendencies
“Which verticals did they come from? In addition, which practice area did they enter your firm through?
“This is going to help you develop an unbiased view about the practice areas and genuinely attract new clients to your firm who will do multiple areas of work across multiple practice areas.”
3. Perform a detailed segmentation analysis
Ms Moody advised legal professionals to separate their clients into “at least four buckets”.
“Who are those customers that deliver the most amount of work most consistently? Who are the customers who deliver the largest amount of work but less consistently? Who are clients that deliver less work but on a consistent basis? Who are the clients that deliver less work on a less consistent basis?”
The future of artificial intelligence
Speaker: Julian Uebergang, managing director, Asia-Pacific, Neota Logic
Mr Uebergang shared his insights on the changing legal technology landscape and how artificial intelligence is being used by law firms and in-house teams to productise expertise.
“Most transactions that lawyers are typically involved in are centred around email or something that’s fairly static, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity to create solutions that streamline that interaction, putting tools into the hands of the business that lawyers are owning, and essentially productising their expertise and making that available online so that not every question or every scenario needs to be responded to manually,” he said.
Mr Uebergang said it is vital to move away from the “doomsday” scenario of “robots taking away jobs from lawyers”, and instead think of artificial intelligence as a significant advantage.
• AI is an enabler, not a replacer.
• Firms that don’t adopt technology will be left behind.
• Now is the time to get rid of ‘static’ processes and systems.
Top tools and apps for the legal profession
Speaker: Andrew Abel, founder and principal, Legal Practice Blueprint
In Mr Abel’s session, attendees were treated to key insights into which tools and apps they should be using, and which they could do without.
“This one is a repository for all your passwords.
“I’m not at the place yet where I feel comfortable putting my bank account details in there, but for all of the passwords you use and any systems, your logins etc can go into a tool like that.”
“This one is really great for file backup and for getting documents on the run. It’s also a pretty useful collaboration tool.”
“Evernote for me is my idea repository on the run.
“It does a few things. Let’s say I’ve just had a great idea for an article I want to write or a video I want to film: I can pull [my phone] out, open a note, I can press record and I’ll simply speak into my phone. I’ll put the idea into my phone and file it away.
“Then when the time comes to use that, I go in and retrieve it and it’s there for me. I don’t have to think about it any more after I’ve saved that note.”
“It’s a PC-based tool. What it does is let you take screen captures and videos.
“I’m using it to record webinars or trainings. I’m using it to communicate by taking screen dumps of what I want to be annotating and sending it off to my people in the Philippines.
“What could you use it for? I reckon procedures and training manuals is probably the best thing.”
Video communication – your platform for thought leadership
Speaker: Chris Schwager, video director and video marketing specialist, Ridge Films
Having an online presence is the easiest way to start spreading your influence.
In his session, Mr Schwager revealed how legal professionals can utilise video communication to position themselves as genuine thought leaders.
He highlighted the seven stages that make up the pathway to great video marketing:
1. Coming up with a strategy
“This is based on the marketing goals you’re trying to achieve. It shows outcomes and the videos you need to prioritise in the execution plan.”
2. Project management
Mr Schwager said this involves identifying in advance the key resources needed, organising the schedule, mapping out who will do what, as well as all the technical requirements needed for production.
3. Script writing
“This provides the black-and-white version of what’s going to be seen and heard in the video. It organises ideas, shapes the message and fixes all the confusing wording long before the camera is switched on.”
4. On-camera training
“Learn the skills of a professional presenter. Conquer your on-screen performance by being conversational and relaxed, to better connect with your audience.”
5. Video production
“This is the technical execution of your video; and because all the work has been done up front, the crew simply follow the project plan to bring your video to life.”
“Easily display videos on your website with advanced video marketing tools. This helps to increase your engagement and improve your videos’ performance.”
“Use engagement data to monitor the videos. See the parts most relevant to your audience and learn how your videos are performing.”
A special thanks
The Future Forum would be nothing without its valuable sponsors. A big thank you to LEAP, FTI Consulting, CPD Interactive, Innessco, Momentum Intelligence, Nexon Asia Pacific and Red Rain for your generous support.