Partner committee can boost technology adaptation
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
A partner committee dedicated to innovation can help law firms get the most out of technological developments in the legal market, says Bishu Solomon of Epiq, a leading global provider of legal services and technology.
Solomon, director of eDiscovery Solutions at Epiq's Toronto office, tells AdvocateDaily.com that an engaged group of individuals can make better decisions about which pieces of software and hardware they should acquire on behalf of the firm.
“The goal is to get out there and understand what’s available so that you can make the most efficient use of technologies, and ultimately, enhance your offering to clients,” she says. “I’ve seen a few law firms where this has taken off and has helped develop business within the firm. They also end up having better relationships with vendors, because they can ask thoughtful questions and get into a dialogue about the best way to use a particular technology.”
Ideally, Solomon says the committee should have representation from a wide variety of practice groups.
“Each lawyer has slightly different needs, so you need to think in a holistic way,” she says. “You will want someone who is more litigation focused because eDiscovery is a huge part of their world, but you will also want people from corporate and securities law groups, because they are going to have a better idea of what will assist them in their initial public offering (IPO) and due diligence work.”
Although the legal profession retains a slightly stuffy reputation, Solomon says lawyers are getting better at embracing new technology, in part to keep up with their clients.
“There are so many changes happening in the world of business that I think lawyers recognize the need to adapt and understand how those changes are impacting their clients. That, in turn, will affect how legal agreements are made and how they communicate with clients,” she says.
And while some lawyers remain apprehensive about the speed of change, Solomon says companies like Epiq will always be there to help them where it’s needed, and to remind lawyers of exactly what they’re getting from their vendors.
“There can be some nervousness about learning new processes and implementing new technology, but our argument is that by making full use of the resources available to them, they can add value to their clients,” she says. “Technology is there to increase efficiency and decrease costs, and we work all the time with lawyers who are adding value to their workflow and process because of the set of options that we are able to provide to them.”
For example, Solomon says Epiq’s conceptual analytic tools, which search for relevant portions of documents and will group files together based on the presence and prevalence of related words, can give lawyers unique insights into their cases during eDiscovery.
“The volume of information is so large, that if you’re not using some form of technology, you can easily become buried in it,” she says. “With these tools, you can scan thousands of documents, and the technology will identify key concepts and groups of information that one person or a few lawyers looking at the documents wouldn’t necessarily be able to locate on their own.
“Then you can use that understanding to start building arguments,” Solomon adds.
She says that lawyers who are engaged and open to new technology will get the most out of it.
“The best outcomes are when the lawyers have done some training and are willing to experiment. They can find uses in the technology that wouldn’t necessarily occur to someone who doesn’t also have that lawyer’s case-specific knowledge,” Solomon says.