12 November 2019Caroline Cornell
Four hundred legal professionals gathered at the iconic TWA Hotel on November 7-8, 2019 for the third annual LitiQuest NYC. This year’s conference featured inspiring general sessions and dozens of hands-on workshops to help attendees collectively push the legal industry to new heights.
Futurists Peter Coffee and Chrissie Lightfoot shared how machine learning and artificial intelligence will soon shake up law, while lawyers Keith Mitnik, Sam Pond, and John Morgan offered attendees strategies for transforming their businesses.
Here are just a few of the legal technology trends discussed at this year’s LitiQuest NYC.
1. Rapid change is the new normal
Peter Coffee, Vice President of Strategic Research at Salesforce, opened LitiQuest by warning that the daunting pace of change we’re currently experiencing is the slowest it will be for the rest of our lives.
As companies rush to deliver the next revolutionary product or program, it’s up to lawyers to be the cautionary voices in the room. Invasions of privacy are now rampant, with unlawful tracking and selling of private data making headlines every day, and new inventions like self-driving cars aren’t as foolproof as we’d like them to be. Coffee urged lawyers to use their positions of authority to ensure innovation doesn’t come at the expense of consumer privacy or safety.
The cataclysmic changes we’re seeing, Coffee shared, are akin to sonic booms. If we don’t get ahead of them and understand how to properly “surf” the shock waves, we’ll be left unequipped to handle this new normal.
2. A.I. is more sophisticated than you think
Soft skills that we thought would always give humans the clear advantage over machines, like strategic thinking, empathy, and intuition, are no longer unique to humans. Robots are now capable of these soft skills, too, Chrissie Lightfoot, CEO of EntrepreneurLawyer and Robot Lawyer LISA, pointed out.
Rather than replace human lawyers, A.I. lawyers will fill holes where human lawyers aren’t currently present, and do the tasks that human lawyers don’t want to do or can’t do as efficiently as their robot counterparts. Tasks like legal research and contract review, for example, are areas where machines can help supplement the work of human lawyers.
By embracing A.I., the legal industry will evolve at a much faster rate. In the future, Lightfoot revealed, we’ll see human lawyers and A.I. lawyers working side-by-side to resolve cases.
3. Firms that embrace data have competitive edge
Long gone are the days when embracing social media helped differentiate firms from their competitors. Now, businesses must understand how to effectively leverage data to have a competitive edge.
Jonathan Smith, Vice President of Riddle & Brantley, shared how his firm uses Litify dashboards to manage staff workloads, identify obstacles, and monitor overall team efficiency. Real-time dashboards track overdue tasks, the time it takes for cases to reach negotiations, and the number of cases assigned to each case manager and attorney.
Litify dashboards also help Weitz & Luxenberg assess firm productivity and health. Yehia Said, Director of Business Operations at Weitz & Luxenberg, explained how the intakes team is able to see in real time the number of inbound calls, outbound calls, and intakes created each day and week. Their new transparent intakes system has enabled the firm to handle more than 15,000 inbound calls a month.
4. Law firms have to become more client-centric
In order to compete with online legal service providers like LegalZoom and RocketLawyer, law firms must offer an efficient, client-first experience that customers now expect.
Knowing that 75% of people prefer SMS communication, Josh Kwartler, Chief Operating Officer of Kwartler & Manus, shared that his firm leverages a combination of text messages, phone calls, and letters to communicate with clients. In Litify, they added new fields to track client communication (like when they last contacted the client) and use a process builder to schedule the next follow-up communication.
Clients not only receive regular updates in their preferred form of communication, but they are also more likely to follow treatment plans, Kwartler shared. After implementing this process, average fees have gone up by nearly 30% at Kwartler & Manus.
5. “Doing well by doing good” is just good business
LitiQuest opened with a presentation on Litify.org initiatives, the nonprofit arm of Litify, setting a tone of “doing well by doing good”—the mantra echoed by Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.
Litify CRO Terry Dohrmann announced a new Litify.org advisory board made up of representatives from partner charities, which will advise Litify.org on new initiatives like the Litify.org Service Award: a scholarship awarded to a deserving student dedicated to social justice.
“Doing good by doing well” isn’t limited to charitable initiatives though, as Keith Mitnik, Senior Trial Counsel for Morgan & Morgan, explained. In his session on trial strategies, he explained that a key to obtaining higher verdicts for clients is simply believing that they truly deserve the money.
Mitnik advised attendees to ask themselves before each trial, “What if this was me? What if I was hit unnaturally and now had a forever injury?” When you do that, you’re more likely to obtain higher verdicts, he said.
“We’re in the business of getting remedies. And the only remedy for our clients is money—it’s the all-American form of justice.”Keith Mitnik
“We’re in the business of getting remedies,” Mitnik said. “And the only remedy for our clients is money—it’s the all-American form of justice.”
6. Lawyers need to run their firms like businesses
John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan, the largest plaintiff’s firm in the country, inspired the audience to have the courage to make the bold decisions that will transform their firms. He stated that sometimes you have to “burn the boat”–the boat being anything that’s no longer working for your business. In his case, it was abandoning his firm’s technology infrastructure — a platform that he co-owned with his business partner that wasn’t adequately addressing his business needs — in order to move to Litify.
Sam Pond, managing partner of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, the largest workers’ compensation firm in Pennsylvania, similarly urged attorneys to update their technology infrastructure. He kicked off his session by throwing down stacks of papers and files on the stage to illustrate his firm’s dated operations prior to using Litify.
Since adopting Litify, Pond explained that the firm has become much more competitive. They use Litify to do everything from obtaining medical records and scheduling depositions, to mining through their data and analyzing fees by attorney.
“If you believe in your clients, you need to run your firm like a business,” he declared.
We hope that this year’s LitiQuest NYC gave attendees new strategies to help them do just that: transform their firm into a business that is competitive now and long into the future. To see pictures from this year’s LitiQuest, visit LitiQuest.com. Information about our 2020 events will be added soon.