Legal futures round-up


(As featured in CBA ABC National- July 14, 2017)

Written by: Yves Faguy

Legal futures round-upLegal futures round-up


Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our regular round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.

To kick things off, here’s an issue law firms are going to have to seriously address: their security weak spots. A recent study reveals that there is a “widespread lack of cybersecurity in law firms” and reports that  two-thirds of the 200 responding law firms had reported some sort of cyber breach. Also worrisome, many don’t have cybersecurity insurance.

That report was released as news hit that global law firm DLA Piper suffered a major cyber attack — yet another a reminder that law firms are a choice target for hackers.

Some firms are taking the threat seriously. International immigration services firm Fragomen announced it is opening an immigration technology innovation lab in Pittsburgh, to be staffed with 40-50 professional – none of them lawyers. The office is going to be focused on software development and cybersecurity.

On the technology front, Julie Sobowale explores blockchain and what it means for legal professionals.  Here’s a hint: Smart contracts, which explains why AIG is teaming up with IBM “to develop a “smart” insurance policy that uses blockchain to manage complex international coverage.”

Mary Ellen Egan writes about the rapid evolution of the job of law librarians, who are spending more and more of their time on business intelligence, marketing-related research and testing electronic platforms and tools for legal and business research.

Here’s some “homecoming” news. In June, ROSS Intelligence announced the opening of an R&D lab in Toronto.

There have been some interesting moves in the legal publishing world. We interviewed Colin Lachance, CEO of Compass, the new Canadian legal research platform, about bringing legal publisher vLex and Justia together

And LexisNexis announced its acquisition of Ravel Law, with a view to incorporating Ravel’s a legal analytics and visualisation platform. The legal solutions provider has said it is committed to continuing free and open access to Ravel’s digitized collection of US case law.

Still, Gina Passarella in a recent piece writes about the slow pace of change in the legal industry, noting law firms “haven’t felt enough pain in their purses to force change,” adding that there is nevertheless a different “buzz around innovation” today.

Mark A. Cohen, jumping off Passarella’s argument says that’s because legal ops professionals in legal departments “are reinventing the way technology and process can be leveraged to streamline the delivery of legal services,” even if, in his view, law firms have missed their opportunity to lead the way in this area.

Maybe it’s because law firms aren’t focusing on the right issues at their annual get together. Jordan Furlong offers some handy advice on what to add to the business agenda at the firm retreat.

Or they can discuss what to do about this: A couple dozen GCs from major companies are banding together to share notes, and analyze data on the law firms they use and score them based on cost and outcomes. They also wrote an open letter explaining their initiative.

Also noteworthy, in France the Conseil national des barreaux, a national organization that represents the French bar nationally and internationally, is advocating for allowing outside investors to take a minority stake in law firms.

Oh, and the Law Society of Upper Canada is (again) mulling a name change. Now that’s innovation

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