ILTA 2014: Big Data analytics for lawyers

September 22, 2014

This is one of a set of posts about the content and the discussion at ILTA 2014 in Nashville. Originally intended as a single post, the result was too long for that and I decided to split them up. See also ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics.

Big data and analytics are two distinct subjects, both of which were well covered at ILTA. I group them together for these purposes because they were the joint subject of a panel discussion in which I took part. Organised by UBIC, the discussion was called Advanced analytics for the legal profession – big data challenges, analytic solutions and thoughts for the future. My co-panellists were Gerard Britton of Topiary Discovery and Yoshikatsu Shirai, Chief Client Technology Officer at UBIC, and the moderator was UBIC’s Paul Starrett.

My fellow panellists will forgive me if I focus on what I said, partly because I have the benefit of my preparatory notes, and partly because my part was deliberately intended as a summary.

The conventional Big Data discussion is all about big volumes managed by big law firms for big cases for big clients; for most lawyers that tends to make it sound like someone else’s problem. An ILTA audience is more broadly-based than most and it seemed important to me to, as it were, democratise the subject.

Big Data is not just a synonym for “lots of data”. Conventionally, it is said to comprise volume, velocity and variety; people tend to forget the fourth “v”, value. Armed with the right analytical tools, one can convert such data from being not just a record of what has happened but a source of prediction of what might happen, using what UBIC calls “behavioural informatics”. Read the rest of this entry »


ILTA 2014: Big Law begins to ride the technology wave

September 11, 2014

This is one of a set of posts about the content and the discussion at ILTA 2014 in Nashville. Originally intended as a single post, the result was too long for that and I decided to split them up. See also ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics.

It has been fashionable in recent years to predict the end of the very large firms colloquially and collectively known as BigLaw. Whilst I have accepted the premises of this – that resistance to change, and particularly technology change, would pose serious challenges to BigLaw which not all its members would meet – I have not joined the general prediction that the end is nigh for these firms. There are a lot of lazy assumptions behind the conclusion that these firms are all alike just because they have common clients, size and areas of expertise.

The subject is one which matters (or should matter) to those who offer eDiscovery software and services, because BigLaw has traditionally been their primary market – the “low hanging fruit” in that hackneyed phrase which is so beloved of sales people and which has blinded so many of them to the potential importance of smaller players.  Big firms, along with many of their clients, have seemed like “a large, knotty, sprawling ball of legal, logistical and organisational complexity that hindered both supplier and buyer.”

This splendid phrase comes from a really interesting article by Bill Henderson on the Legal Whiteboard site called Ahead of the Curve: Three Big Innovators in BigLaw. The article covers in some detail the application of technology to the practices of the three finalists for the ILTA Most Innovative Law Firm Award – Bryan Cave, Seyfarth Shaw and Littler Mendelson. Read the rest of this entry »


Washington and New York to Mitchell via privacy, Singapore and Lobachevsky

February 17, 2014

The problem with running a website which offers news and updates is that people notice when it lies silent – the essence of news is that it is new. In fact, I have never aspired to timeliness and, as I say often, if it is important now, it will be important in a month’s time. This post supplements a brief note which I put up last week. Most of it is about Washington and its wonderful memorials, about the week in New York with my panels on eDiscovery technology and privacy, and about the things which got in the way when I got home. That includes some ruminations on the fall-out from Mitchell v NGN, on the unpleasant and economically-illiterate thug who carries the proud title “Lord Chancellor” and his minions at the Ministry of Justice, and on the decline of London’s aspirations to be a forum of choice for international litigants, with side references to Hong Kong (where I go next) and Singapore. There is also a bit about plagiarism illustrated by Tom Lehrer. You get variety here, if not necessarily thematic consistency.

I was at LegalTech in New York, the biggest eDiscovery industry show in the world. This was my eighth LegalTech and I know the form by now – back-to-back meetings, a couple of panels to sit on, five party invitations every night, dinners with varying degrees of learning and entertainment thrown in, and someone to talk to round every corner. This year brought the added element of sudden snowfalls leading to deep pools of slush at every crossing, particularly tiresome when your meetings alternate between the Hilton on one side of Sixth Avenue and the Warwick Hotel on the opposite corner.

Our attempts, some four months earlier, to book hotel rooms were defeated by some sporting event which apparently drew most of the US population into New York for the weekend. The cost of flights to the US falls steeply if you include a Saturday, so we went first to Washington D.C. – “we” being me, my wife Mary Ann and our youngest son William. The weather was fine and, as always, we were drawn first to the war memorials. Read the rest of this entry »


ILTA brings Insight to legal technology in London on 14 November

October 29, 2013

I am an unabashed enthusiast for the International Legal Technology Association, ILTA, whose big US conference every year is one of the high points of my (over-full) conference calendar.

It has three key elements which are critical to lawyers everywhere – the high quality of its sessions, the peer-to-peer principles of shared understanding and knowledge which are fundamental to its foundation, and the opportunity to supplement the formal exchange of shared knowledge with informal networking. It is a catalyst for ideas – which is why my post in advance of the main show in Las Vegas was called Catalyst for ideas at the ILTA annual conference in Las Vegas.

ILTA InsightAll that comes to London (shorn of some of the side-attractions which Las Vegas offers) on 14 November with a one-day event, ILTA Insight 2013, at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel which offers a packed programme and the other things mentioned above in exchange for a registration fee of – zero.

The Agenda is here. The discovery-related sessions include one called the Ins and Outs of information governance, one called Budgeting and eDisclosure, and my own one called Non-traditional sources of electronic evidence.

Other subjects include artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and mobile working, document collaboration, the ever-developing subject of BYOD (Bring your own device) and the use of social business tools in legal practice.

In addition, there is a keynote by futurist Rohit Talwar in which he shares the findings from ILTA’s Legal Technology Future Horizons Project, a discussion about how businesses have adapted to change where others have not, and discussions about the route to the future from now.

The Co-Chairs are Janet Day, IT Director at Berwin Leighton Paisner, and Gareth Ash, CIO at Allen & Overy. The majority of the speakers are people who get their hands dirty daily within law firms and who are willing to share their experiences.

My own primary aim in going, apart from the sessions in which I am participating, is the opportunity to talk and listen to the people who have the problems and those with the experiences of solving them.

Registration, as I say, it’s free. It is, of course, necessary to register your intention to attend – you can do that here. I hope to see you there.

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Society for Computers and Law seeks sponsor for 40th Anniversary dinner

September 10, 2013

It does not seem that long ago that I attended the 20th Anniversary dinner of the Society for Computers and Law. That shows how time slips by, because the 40th anniversary is looming. It is to be celebrated by a dinner at the House of Commons on Thursday 5 December. Whilst I do not usually promote sponsorship opportunities, this seems to me to be a cause which I ought to help.

Why would a supplier of eDisclosure software and services – the catchment area of this blog – want to get its name in front of the sort of people who attend the SCL’s anniversary dinner? Most eDisclosure marketing is aimed at litigators who are known or presumed to face eDisclosure problems. That obviously makes sense when marketing resources are finite, but it potentially misses a significant and relevant audience – those who influence IT strategy in law firms, those whose contact with clients may be in other areas and, perhaps even more importantly, those who are responsible for wider questions of departmental efficiency, whether in a law firm or a company.

This seems to me to be a good opportunity to raise awareness of the fact that most disclosure providers do more than merely collect and process data and have value to add to litigation departments both for specific cases and for strategic planning.

Contact Caroline Gould caroline.gould@scl.org, General Manager at SCL, if you are interested in this opportunity.

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ILTA and Rohit Talwar – a project to analyse technology disruption and change

August 14, 2013

ILTA is running a project on the impact of technology on legal practice, with the futurist Rohit Talwar. The results will be delivered at ILTA Insight 2013 in London in November.

After the ILTA / ALM technology conference in Hong Kong, I wrote a long article reporting on a speech made by futurist Rohit Talwar. I called it The Ghost of Legal Services Yet to Come – a Futurist tells of things that may be in which I pulled out of the speech those things which had the most obvious relevance to the foreseeable future for law firms and barristers.

That speech was my introduction to a project being run by ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) whose purpose is to analyse the effect of the potential disruption of technology and practice of law. The original press release about the project explains the ambitions for the project. The key areas for study are:

  • Key driving forces shaping business and the legal profession.
  • A timeline of future IT developments.
  • How to leverage IT advances that help enable and enhance tomorrow’s legal organizations.
  • Possible scenarios for the role and management of IT in tomorrow’s legal organizations.
  • IT imperatives specific to law firms, legal departments, and legal technology providers.

Monica Bay now brings us up to date about this in an article on the Law Technology News site called ILTA Charges Into the Future.

Many lawyers will dismiss such studies as having no relevance to their daily practice; they have letters to write, documents to draft, full InBoxes and next quarter’s rent to pay, and you won’t catch me underestimating the effect of all this on forward planning because I have much the same cluttering up my life.  There are, however, rival views as to whether law firms in their present form are doomed; every other industry makes its plans on the basis of the world as it will be next year and in three and five years time and there is no obvious reason why lawyers should approach their businesses differently.

The results of ILTA’s project will be delivered not in the US but at ILTA Insight 2013 in London on 14 November 2013. There is to be a strong eDisclosure / eDiscovery track at that event in which I am participating. Rohit Talwar’s keynote speech will be another reason for attending ILTA Insight (which, incidentally, has no registration fees).

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Catalyst for ideas at the ILTA Annual Conference in Las Vegas

August 6, 2013

ILTA_The_CatalystILTA is the International Legal Technology Association. Its 36th Annual Educational Conference “The Catalyst” takes place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas between 18 and 22 August. Its website, comprehensive as always, covers everything you could need to know.

[A note for the purists, of whom I am generally one. It sticks in the throat to write "Caesars Palace" without an apostrophe, but that is what the place is called and accuracy trumps purity. Las Vegas is a great conference venue, but it is not a seat of learning - except when ILTA is in town.]

Caesars

ILTA is one of the few events which I attend whether I am speaking or not – indeed, much of the pleasure and value comes from going, as I am this year, with an entirely open agenda. I have formal meetings arranged, of course, with those who sponsor the eDisclosure Information Project or who might do so, and I will see many other people there, including many I don’t know or don’t expect to see. That, to me, is the biggest single benefit to be gained from mixing for several days with a very broad cross-section of the eDiscovery world.

If a lot of what I know comes from hours of reading, from sitting in sessions, and from proper meetings with agendas and stuff, a lot more comes from casual conversation in bars and restaurants. Who is recruiting and who is laying off? What really works and what is all fur and no knickers? Is it really true that…? Did you hear that…? I’m drinking one to every three going down everyone else, soaking up the market vibes, sniffing the breeze and mentally evaluating what I am hearing and why I am being told it, sifting news from gossip from special pleading from wishful thinking. The market gossip is interesting, but what really matters are the portents of big shifts – the recurring subjects, what the clients are asking for, what they are turning their back on. I don’t process it in a formal, statistical way as an analyst would do, but just soak it up and add it to what I know already. Read the rest of this entry »


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