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Event Review – Innovative Legal Services Forum 2019

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On 31 May I attended the Innovative Legal Services Forum in Prague, Czech Republic. It brought together a number of speakers from around the world to discuss the latest happenings in legal tech and legal innovation. The day consisted of a number of talks and panel discussions from those running legal tech businesses, legal innovators and lawyers.

The layout for the talks was akin to an awards dinner, with a scattering of circular tables facing a brightly lit stage (pictures can be seen here).  The screens on the stage radiated colourful graphics as the speakers entered stage left or right, starting with Brian Kuhn from IBM Watson. One of his key points was that artificial intelligence (AI) would not replace lawyers, but if firms wanted to remain competitive they should adopt a high-level AI strategy. He went on to say that the technology itself was not the threat but law firms’ use of it would be.

He concluded by saying the “days of a predictable life is over” and that people should now accept uncertainty. This was mirrored in a later talk by Orsolya Gorgenyi from ELTA who informed the audience they should carry out life long learning and embrace the growth mindset. She also said that the future lawyer would need the following skills: people skills (EQ), project management skills and creativity.

Ondrej Materna, CEO of Legito, discussed trends in document automation and echoed Brian Kuhn’s sentiment earlier in the conference by saying that legal tech will “change the way that lawyers work, but will not replace lawyers”. The following speaker, Andres Felipe Laserna, discussed efforts being made in South America to use legal tech. He went on to say there was a real opportunity for using legal tech for the greater good to solve inequalities in the provision of justice.

Jonathan Patterson (MD of DWF Ventures) spoke about DWF’s business within a business, which is devoted to creating innovative solutions for the firm or their clients. He finished by saying that future lawyers should have technical legal skills, creativity and resilience. Keeping with the future lawyer trend, a panel later in the day was asked how prospective lawyers should approach entering the fast changing legal profession. The most memorable answer was “Whatever you do have your heart in it. If you do that money will come.”.

Other notable speakers included Lesley Wan who gave an inspirational talk directed at those wishing to progress into in-house senior positions by taking on non-executive directorships at a charitable organisation. Lauren Riley, CEO of The Link App, also discussed how law firms should move away from using email as the method of communication between lawyer and client.

The conference was closed by Jordan Furlong who went through a number of case studies of good legal innovation from around the world. This included alternative legal service providers, firms that had changed the way the bill or calculate bonuses and those that have adopted AI technology. He followed this with a list of four things that will improve innovation:

  1. Organisations should engage with change leadership rather than just change management;
  2. For those wishing to innovate they should know their innovation ‘constituency’ – who do you need to persuade or satisfy?
  3. Measure what matters and publicise every success; and
  4. For those facing adversity to innovate, innovation is its own justification because better is better.

He said that to innovate you should collaborate with people that aren’t like you. They will see the risks or opportunities that you didn’t even know about.

He finished the conference by sending a message to all those wishing to innovate:

Be brave

MM

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