New year, new you, right? Every year, as we embark on a new turn around the sun, millions of us will resolve to change for the better. And as the first month of 2019 winds down, we’re approaching the point where we start seeing progress towards realizing our resolutions—or start forgetting about them altogether.
Though resolutions may be highly individual, they need not be limited to one’s personal life. Perhaps 2019 is the year to embrace a more public-facing resolve. To think about how we can change our approach to the law for the better. To focus on the change you’d like to see in the world around you—or at least in the legal industry. (We can take up gardening or start marathon running on the side, as well.)
To that end, Logikcull recently surveyed a dozen innovative legal thinkers, from judges to law professors to attorneys, to see what changes or developments they would like to see in the year ahead. Their responses show the wide range of challenges—and aspirations—facing the industry in the year ahead and offer diverse perspectives on how to improve the legal system as we move forward. Here is a sampling.
From the Judges
“My wish for 2019 is that experienced professionals will prepare a guidebook for judges describing the technological tools and capabilities to preserve non-email electronic data, such as the Internet of Things, social media, text messages, etc.”
-Judge Joy Flowers Conti, Senior U.S. District Court Judge, Western District of Pennsylvania
“Follow the Rules, both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, especially Rule 34(b)(2), and use Federal Rule of Evidence 502(d) orders in all cases. Also, use TAR (especially Continuous Active Learning) more, and fight about it less.”
-Judge Andrew J. Peck, Sr. Counsel, DLA Piper, U.S. Magistrate Judge (Ret.), Southern District of New York
Rethinking Process and Technology
"I'd like to see less focus on AI and more focus on fixing workflow inefficiencies. Your AI ain't gonna solve your data distribution challenges. Similarly, in 2019, I think we'll see in-house legal teams realizing that taking back 90% of discovery from law firms and vendors benefits them, their vendors, and their law firms."
-Andy Wilson, Co-founder and CEO, Logikcull
“We spend a lot of time trying to match clients with the best possible solutions, and frankly, it’s not always easy. This year I’d like to see the entire ecosystem working to find solutions together. That means in-house teams, tech & solution providers, firms, law schools and business partners like me. If everyone is working together, the solutions for clients are bound to be better and more responsive to clients’ needs. And if I could have all my wishes granted, I’d like to see tech solutions that are actually intuitive, easy to implement and affordable. That can be done in one year, right?”
“Lawyers could benefit greatly if regulations of legal practice were more frequently updated to include the use of emerging technologies. Prioritizing tech and embracing innovation would aid lawyers in providing better services to the public. The training and integration of regulators' recommended, "tried and tested" legal tech products, could initiate profound changes to the current legal landscape.”
“I would like law firms to more widely adopt technology. To do so, they must move beyond simply automating workflow and back office operations, and use technology to deliver legal services. For example, why write a memo when a client’s compliance with privacy and product safety laws is better tracked and measured through an interactive heat map on their desktop, which is updated in real time?”
Data and AI
“More integration of AI tools in law firm operations to promote efficiency in legal operations and gain more insights into client issues and potential solutions. Increasing use of data scientists as valuable members of firm operations to analyze firm and client data”
“The continued development and growth of the seed-stage legal tech ecosystem. Increased quality technical talent coming into legal tech. More open data in the legal tech ecosystem and more people thinking of creative ways to use it.”
Risk and Privacy
The new California privacy legislation and numerous drafting efforts in other states and at the federal level need coordination, and an attempt at some level of compatibility with the GDPR and other foreign law. Considering how dysfunctional government has become lately, it would be helpful for lawyers to draft recommendations rather than leave this to Congress.
“I’d love to see the legal industry getting more educated and proactive about helping entities manage cyber risk, privacy and information governance. Not only are law firms vulnerable to breach, they are also the first line of defense for corporate clients who seek counsel on how to address or preferably prevent breaches that can quickly cause a decline in shareholder value due to ransomware, intellectual property diminishment or damage to a brand. Cybersecurity and privacy are table stakes in 2019 for value-added client representation by in-house and outside counsel. All attorneys need to be comfortable advising on those risks or should be prepared to bring in experts who are.”
“2019 should be a year of informed cyber-planning and preparation, pre-breach efficient preemption and post-breach effective mitigation. Above all, it should be a year of strategic and tactical thinking ahead and post-breach, cost-effective education and practical cyber solutions.”
Alternative Billing Models
“More and more law firms moving towards ‘fixed’ cost estimates. Moving away from billable hours would provide in-house legal teams predictably around legal spend and make our finance team happy! Having fixed costs nearly eliminates the need for eBilling and accruals systems since law firms would be handled like any other vendor by sending monthly or annual invoices for legal services. Imagine a world where the 'blank check' billable hour is an exception, not the norm.”
“In 2019, I would like to see law firms resolve to continue to push the boundaries on their fee setting. With competition rising on all sides (from other lawyers, from branded networks, from do-it-yourself legal tools), law firms need to focus on building out consumer-centric pricing models. This includes eliminating uncapped and hourly billing, which delights lawyers, but makes consumers of legal services chafe.”
Will 2019 get us closer to these goals, allowing us to cast off bad habits or ineffective practices and move towards a better version of ourselves? We’ll have to wait and see—but if these goals are to serve as guideposts, we're probably on a positive track.