Don’t Lose the Human Touch: Our STF Recap

October 18, 2018

Don’t lose the human touch. At a technology-centric conference, the message came through loud and clear: technology is an enabler, but it comes down to people, relationships, and trust when discussing how to serve clients best or win new ones.

Like most industry conferences these days, the agenda at the Strategic Technology Forum USA had all the familiar topics: AI, security, LPM, pricing, and innovation. C-level technology leaders gathered to share use cases, war stories, and their vision for the future with their peers and hear from industry experts such as Dr. Roland Vogl from Stanford’s CodeX – who gave us a look into how the blend of computer science and law will shape the industry for years to come.

Keeping up with the competition, better serving clients, and increasing firm efficiency were all natural pillars of discussion to fall back to as sessions moved in and out of various technological or theoretical topics. One of the most conversational keynotes dealt with how firms will remain competitive with the Big 4 and alternative service providers’ continued push into legal – which is at the top of everyone’s mind. The session gave guidance on how to best handle these inevitable market disruptors: think about new business models (quickly), partner and co-innovate with alternative service providers and technology vendors to provide the best possible solution to your clients’ legal problems, and, most simply, get to know your clients’ business better.

Many panels and sessions exhibited how firms are embracing big data, advanced technologies, and making their foray into the AI world, but all with the caveat that a lot needs to be done to deploy these advanced-state technologies effectively. Technology can be a great catalyst in changing how firms operate internally and how they serve their clients, however, looking internally at people, process, and data needs to be step 1.

While AI and the fear of the “robot lawyer” constantly parade in headlines and conference sessions, the fact of the matter is we are still at a point in time where firms need a solid foundation in place to properly adopt these technologies and make the best use of them. Contributing factors to the successful adoption of AI technologies can be boiled down to data and processes (not an inclusive list). A large portion of firms today lack data continuity, accessibility [siloed systems], validity, data maintenance/governance policies, as well as the volume of data needed to train an AI system properly. Additionally, understanding where AI will fit into non-standardized or ill-defined processes, both within operational systems and multi-disciplinary workflows, is a key contributor to impeding the achievement of desired outcomes. Building a solid core and defining processes must be a top priority when considering future-state technologies.

These foundational items, in combination with the human touch and interpersonal relationships, continue to be elevated in conversations by both firm leaders and corporate legal representatives. It was nice to see the hype starting to die down a bit and law firm leaders get real about what truly matters to their clients: keeping the partnership and interpersonal connections alive.

Written by: Drew Blazaitis

Drew Blazaitis leads Fulcrum Global Technologies’ product strategy and innovation teams, focusing on Fulcrum’s end-to-end legal product suite, emerging technologies, go-to-market activities, and value engineering practices.