Peer to Peer Magazine

Spring 2015

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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FEATURES 38 Career Advice from a Futurist 42 Bring Out the Best in Introverts 46 2015 Hiring Predictions: E-Discovery and More! 47 Legal Marketers' Growing Influence 50 Wanted: Pricing Professionals 54 Wonder Women: STEM and the Future of Legal Tech 56 Who Are "Tomorrow's Lawyers," and How Can We Help Them? 58 Finding Success in Practice Support 62 CIOs Taking On New and Expanded Roles PEER TO PEER: THE QUARTERLY MAGA ZINE OF ILTA 38 WWW.ILTANET.ORG 39 FEATURES Distrust anyone who claims to forecast the future and is not wealthy beyond all imagining. They're no good at their job. With that qualification in mind, you can look closely at the present legal marketplace and discern some trends you can use to plan your career in legal technology. Notwithstanding the veils that prevent us from forecasting an exact future, I think you can use certain obvious market conditions to inform your career choices. And, if you do, you'll increase the odds you will at least be gainfully employed when the future rolls around. With any luck or acuity you might be positively thriving, while your less perceptive peers hunker down to endure the ravages of an age they don't understand. So pay attention. Editor's Note: John Alber is the father of ILTA's Law2020 initiative and is a true futurist. Twenty years ago, a large firm might have derived 20 or 25 percent of its revenue from tasks related to document discovery. But, thanks to automation, document review throughput is several orders of magnitude better today. All that golden leverage is gone, and the revenue with it. The same thing has happened in legal research. It is about to happen in document drafting. Then comes Watson, IBM's semantic intelligence engine that has taken aim at the law. We need not know any more particulars to understand that 15 years from now we will have more lawyers than jobs for lawyers — an oversupply, in the parlance of economists. Procurement will be queen (or king). Each of the operating departments of our major corporate clients has heard procurement knock at the door. Material acquisition, manufacturing and transportation, for example, have all been transformed by the implementation of purchasing disciplines. The supply chain is now tightly managed from end to end thanks to procurement. Procurement is the art and science of the efficient acquisition of goods and services. It's managed by MBAs with attitude. And when procurement arrives on the scene, everything changes. Typically, when a business process falls under the scrutiny of procurement, prices fall and efficiency increases (often as the result of automation). Suppliers that can't keep up with all that change fail. The big news for law in this decade is that procurement has come calling on law departments around the world. Many now have JD/MBA chief legal operations officers, whose job it is to drive prices and risk down and efficiency up. In a decade's time, that will be high art, just as has happened in other corporate departments. And there will be no room for law firm weaseling on price or performance. Those who can't operate in this environment won't be around. The guild will erode. The legal profession operates as something of a guild today, with enough protections for its members to maintain fairly high barriers to entry (i.e., to practice, you have to go to law school and pass the bar). But the canons of ethics, court rules and statutes that protect lawyers aren't impermeable, even today. Consumer- oriented services like LegalZoom have already established a foothold and, on the corporate side, little penetrations are happening all around the perimeter. Law departments are getting tools that give them access to best-practices provisions from documents drafted by the very best firms. Soon top-quality documents will be drafted for law departments with no need for outside counsel. Common corporate legal problems like nondisclosure agreements are being "app-ified." And alternative law firms — LPOs, secondment specialists, etc. — are taking more and more work away from traditional firms. That is just the beginning. Like the dike that leaks just a little at first, these tiny exceptions to the guild will grow and multiply. Clients have already sampled the flow. They will want more, and in an extremely price competitive market, they will have the economic power to get it. The marketplace is recognizing that desire and responding. For example, IBM just established a rather sizable fund aimed at encouraging third parties to use Watson technology to "disintermediate" between lawyers and their clients. Companies are taking them up on the offer. This is the point where someone giving advice about the future usually shifts to specifics and says, "There's a great future in plastics," or some such. That line from The Graduate might be "There's a great future in big data" in this age, when information threatens to become an unstoppable tidal wave. However, such specific advice is useless when the time horizon extends beyond a few years. What we need to do is predict environments. We can extend trends that are visible now and say something useful about how those environmental factors will operate in 10 or 15 years. What can we say about the legal marketplace with some assurance? Here's my shot at some environmental predictions (with a few tips thrown in for good measure). THE LEGAL ENVIRONMENT OF THE FUTURE There will still be law. And there will still be law firms. Businesses and individuals facing legislative, regulatory, operational and other risks will seek to manage those risks and will need advice on doing so. Based on regulatory trends in the developed world, it's safe to say there will be more law in the future and perhaps more need for advice. If you like the law as an area of endeavor, stick around. But be prepared for change. We will be oversupplied with lawyers. Law schools are still cranking out thousands of lawyers a year. Those lawyers will still be active in their careers (in some field, at least) 10 or 15 years from now. More important, though, is that an increasing amount of legal work will yield to machine intelligence. Maybe there will be robot lawyers … but there will certainly be radically streamlined processes due to automation. That's already happening. About the Author John Alber is Bryan Cave's Strategic Technology Partner and oversees three technology-enabled groups at the firm: the Client Technology Group, the Practice Economics Group and the Accelerated Review Team. The groups under his leadership develop innovative Web-based, client-facing decision support, training and client communication tools. John has written and spoken widely on legal technology subjects and received a number of technology awards, both in the legal field and in information technology generally. In 2011, Bryan Cave was recognized as ILTA's Most Innovative Firm for work done by the groups under John's leadership. Contact him at

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