Session 1: The Future of Legal Technology
Panelists: Marissa Sapega, Director of Product Marketing at Assembly, and Paul Hernandez, President of Kalfus and Nachman, a thriving personal injury/disability/social security Virginia firm with several locations
In this session, Paul shared how he was using automation to free up time for his staff to focus on areas where their expertise had the greatest ROI (return on investment). He loves to automate mundane tasks to reduce the risk of human error and boost his staff’s productivity. He also discussed the criticality of meeting clients “where they are,” which entails communicating with clients on digital platforms they find most convenient – like SMS, email, and zoom.
Paul spoke at length about how Neos enables him and his staff to communicate faster and more efficiently with clients because all emails, texts, and even phone calls, are all automatically logged into the client’s case. He recommended taking advantage of a geographically dispersed workforce because firms can now find exceptional employees from the United States and abroad with lower living costs, lowering the total cost of labor. Finally, Paul ended by proclaiming that remote collaboration has never been easier, thanks to cloud-based case management platforms.
Session 2: The Future of Analytics
Panelists: McKay Ferrell, VP of Product at Assembly, and Jim Garrett, CTO of Assembly
McKay and Jim expanded on Paul’s emphasis on efficiency during their session. Jim noted that simply having data or “AI” technology won’t get you where you need to go; rather, it’s paramount to understand strategically (or at least categorically) what you are looking to analyze. Then you can build a data lake based on this understanding because simply having access to a data lake will not magically improve a firm’s efficiency. The beauty of the data lake (as opposed to access to simple transactional data) is that once you know what information you need from it, it becomes far more powerful than static data sets. You can use it for predictive insights.
McKay and Jim believe the future of analytics lies in answering questions around profitability (what is the return on spending and what levers you can pull to drive those ratios up), efficiency (where can you improve the speed to resolution), productivity (are you maximizing the resources you currently have), and predictability (what types of cases should you take on that will net you the best ROI).
Session 3: The Future of Digital Payments
Panelists: Michael O’Connor, SVP of Settlement Services at Western Alliance Bank, and McKay Ferrell, VP of Product at Assembly
Michael and McKay started by talking about Paul’s recommendation to “meet clients where they are.” Michael spoke at length about accommodating different generations of clients, sharing a story about his niece who has never seen a paper check and wouldn’t know what to do with it if she received one. He explained that Generation Z and Millennials have grown comfortable with the idea of digital payments and usually prefer them over paper checks, while more mature clients may still elect traditional payment methods. Offering several options to clients allows lawyers to accommodate diverse needs, which boosts client satisfaction and retention. He remarked that the growing adoption of digital payments bodes well for efficiency (cutting and mailing fewer checks and potentially reissuing them if the client loses them) and uptake of settlement funds. In large settlement cases, there is a marked increase in fund acceptance when the payment is offered digitally, as opposed to paper checks. The courts and legal professionals who fought for those settlements want their clients to accept that payment; it’s why they do what they do. Greater uptake means more clients get what they deserve and improved job satisfaction for all those involved in the legal process.
Key takeaways from attendees
“The gap between advancing technology capabilities and the adoption of the industry is growing. Many of the sessions were ‘masterclass’ level information, and many of the exhibitors were promoting AI, Analytics, eDiscovery, etc. What I noticed in discussions and our session is that there is a vacuum on how to take steps into these advancing technologies, as well as enabling firms to use what they have more fully.
“We should provide partnership and guidance as what seems like most firms in our space have yet to really take first steps to leverage technologies to ensure they are getting the most out of all the data they have, as well as automating repetitive tasks.”
“AI is hot right now. Firms want efficiency and to make their lives easier, but don’t know exactly what that means or practically how to implement or fully trust AI (yet). Firms don’t know how to measure their own efficiency (or lack thereof), which leads to firms looking for a magic bullet to solve their problems, but in reality, the firms need to define their business process before they can get the most out of any technology they use.”
As we close the chapter on Legalweek 2023, we look forward to attending next year! Hope to see you there.