Added2nd July 2013 by Riverview LawRiverview Law

Home thoughts from abroad – Legal Week Strategic Technology Forum 2013

Adam Shutkever, COO at Riverview Law reports back from the Legal Week Strategic Technology Forum 2013. I have recently returned from speaking at the Legal Week Strategic Technology Forum 2013 which was held in Fiuggi, Italy- a spa resort in the hills around an hour from Rome. I must confess that the prospect of an all-expenses paid couple of days in the sun was an attractive one from the outset but I was also interested in hearing the views, ideas and concerns of a group of mostly non-lawyers delivering key services to the legal market. Have you ever noticed how the legal market loves the concept of “nons” ? Non- partners, non-lawyers, non-fee earners….the list goes on. I have always found the views of the “nons” to be particularly interesting, and last week’s experience was no exception. Topics at the conference ranged widely, from predictions on the long-term use of artificial intelligence in law firms to “The psychology of the Courageous Conversation”. I was struck by the very active debates which took place, perhaps reflecting the fact that those present seemed a very close-knit group. The event felt a little like a reunion- almost a gathering of friends, albeit these “friends” manage IT and operations in a good cross-section of the world’s largest law firms. I spoke as a member of a panel of “managing partners” (!), discussing legal services realignment. This gave me an opportunity to share my views on the current state of the traditional legal services market (a perfect storm: difficult economic environment, new regulatory regime and, most importantly, customer-driven change) and to contrast Riverview Law’s approach, building fixed price services around the requirements of our customers. The response from a large audience was very consistent with similar gatherings of “nons” which I had spoken to before- a remarkably high level of agreement, combined with frustration at the difficulty of re-aligning partner-owned firms to address the changing marketplace. The consensus view of the longer-term viability of the traditional model was not at all positive- all very encouraging for a newcomer not saddled with high overheads and a partnership structure to support! Other interesting topics of discussion included options for remote collaboration between lawyers and customers and in particular the conflict between the need for security and the increasing use by businesses of cloud-based document storage solutions such as Dropbox. It was clear that IT directors have their work cut out in delivering secure solutions when customers demand simplicity. A debate entitled “Overcoming the challenges of a mobile and international workforce” quickly became something of a group therapy session, with delegates bemoaning the need to keep providing the latest toys to their lawyer colleagues, despite the obvious challenges of supporting multiple platforms, devices etc. Again, music to my ears. All in all, it was a very worthwhile experience. I should, though, let on that the photos of the inviting pool which I thoughtfully shared with my colleagues back home failed to tell the full story. If any readers are attracted to the prospect of having themselves cryogenically frozen they should save the expense of going to a clinic and opt instead for 10 minutes in a Fiuggi swimming pool in June.