Legal realism in a time of innovation

Reem Khurshid|Editor, Briefing

Briefing hosted another very lively supper club last month with our friends from Fulcrum GT — issue sponsor in the recent September release. Senior law firm leaders working in finance, technology and innovation joined our team for a relaxing dinner and drinks by the Thames to discuss their most pressing priorities and challenges — cutting through the noise and offering insight into plans and hopes for the future direction of legal technology.

A common thread through conversations that evening centred on the challenge of instilling realism into both team and client (sometimes overzealous) expectations of new tools — and encouraging a measured approach to considering potentially disruptive innovations.

Even so, channelling effort into finding reliable efficiencies across what’s already available is clearly top of mind at firms. Several leaders discussed how they are focused on leveraging their case management systems to their fullest potential, emphasising the need for a unified system across the firm to ensure consistency. With an undeniably widespread shift towards embracing cloud-first and adopting SaaS solutions across the sector, one leader spoke of the final stage of a journey to bid farewell to traditional servers and embrace the full flexibility and accessibility of cloud-based platforms.

The challenge of managing innovation budget and resource effectively also looms large, as several underscore the need to reimagine past practices where adhoc solutions were sometimes dispensed to clients without assessing long-term viability, cost implications and risks. Striking a balance between creating bespoke experiences that cater to diverse client needs and ensuring a practical approach with long-term cost-effectiveness in mind seems to be a delicate art. One law firm leader said they’re focused on encouraging the average lawyer to think more innovatively to bridge the gap between the overly inventive and the resistant.

Other topics of discussion included evaluating productivity, pricing and cashflow strategies to mitigate challenging finances, navigating increasingly gruelling requirements to get a foot in the door with certain clients and the complex reporting maze, the changing nature of work culture and talent expectations, and — of course — generative AI.

While AI’s potential to shake up the legal landscape is undeniable, there’s still uncertainty about the timeline for realising its full potential. With such a hazy horizon, it’s clear that firms will need to ensure that any large language model-based solutions they implement are fed with reliable, complete, high-quality data.

So, how do law firms navigate this period of radical digital transformation? Our supper club recommends: Consider whether your heads ought to be in the cloud and keep your feet on the ground.

Read Fulcrum GT’s perspective on the pressures firms face in our latest issue.



An opportunity to stand out from the crowd

Matt Skipper, head of new business, Mills & Reeve
Briefing April 2024

Knowledge still has questions about genAI

Where does knowledge management see its chances and challenges with genAI?

Richard Brent
Head of content, Briefing