Being only my second week at Conscious, I had never been to a conference of this nature before and had no idea of what to expect, though I’ve also never written a blog post before so let’s see how this goes too….
As I approached the main desk of the BT Centre, I was met by two smiley representatives eager to help and locate my ID badge. At that point, it was hard to hold onto any feelings of trepidation. As their reassuring smiles made me feel at ease, I was then guided to the meeting point by another reassuringly smiley representative.
Once in, the room was buzzing with the sound of eager professionals deep in converse. It was clear to see many were old acquaintances as the volume of the room heightened as people excitedly greeted old friends.
As I looked around the room, my mission was clear. Meet, befriend and converse with as many professionals as possible. What I could learn from the day was only limited to time. Any butterflies I previously felt had flown away as the mission took hold and I joined the first group of people I came to. With a smile that wouldn't falter, I introduced myself and began.
After a short while the meet and greets ended, here we were guided downstairs for the conference to begin.
The Main Event – Burlington Media Group's Legal Supplier Forum
Charlie Swan, Director, PCA law welcomed the full auditorium of legal suppliers. Opening with, “So you’re aware, Dry January ends here today” laughter echoed around. Being January 31st, very few had made it that far in their pledge but knowing what comes with these types of events, it was highly unlikely they’d make it through the final day without a drop bringing their feat to a joyful end. After a short introduction, he made way for the effervescent David Sparks of Burlington Media Group who so kindly organised the event.
Setting the tone for the conference, he talked about the importance of quality leadership skills and embracing change. How having the right perspective and knowledge base is pivotal for us to survive and grow in any economy. Everything we do, sell and engage in is based on trust and in building trusted networks amongst ourselves and the communities we serve, it will guide the way to our own better futures. David was incredibly engaging and the words resonated with many as we considered how true it is and how powerful trust is.
With the use of PowerPoint and graphs and looking at the top 100 law firms, he set a sombre tone as he concluded his overall findings suggested challenging financial performances across the board, something I’m sure many were already aware of. As a direct result of increased competition and only slight fee increases, the majority of the law firms who did experience revenue growth, did so through merges rather than organic growth. Hit by increased wages and less chargeable hours; which fell for the second year running. With the increased risk that cyber fraud poses too, the cost is being distributed to security which may not have been budgeted enough for.
Throughout the presentation, it was clear to see a large gap in what lawyers are doing and what they are able to charge for. If the focus on computerised systems was embraced more, it would not only improve efficiency and thus help maintain strong reputations as well as security but also help improve profitability. Currently, very few firms seem to invest their time and resources where it’s needed most in this ever-changing society.
A look at Legal IT landscapes, an attitudinal survey on all legal services. An interesting comparison in the workings and focus of LPM magazine law firms compared to Briefing magazine law firms. Looking at how what they do affects their business, what they think of it and what they are going to do with it. Looking at ROI, ideally, when investing, you’d want it to make you more of both though it rarely works that way.
When comparing Automation versus AI, automation altogether works the same as AI but works faster. AI is a hot topic in the legal sector right now, however, the LPM market is still focusing on CMS and how it will work with something else, presumably to save on cost, at least in the short term.
When asked how the briefing market firms are using AI? Most are using it for non-inventive automated things like contracts. When asked what it could it be used for? The answer was clear, historic data, pricing, business principles and management information.
In terms of importance, it was found that 3.2 out of 10 of legal work is currently automated though thought that 6.9 out of 10 could be. If this was embraced sooner, everyday tasks would be made much more effective and be a huge time saver.
Information security is something of a competitive focus right now rather than the for the benefit of clients which echoes what Leon Hutchinson was saying on firms fiercely trying to protect their profit.
36% of firms thinking of implementing better security in future
26% are doing it now
26% are doing it now
29% don’t feel they have a need for it
Looking at the law firm's focus for the next 12 months:
PMS/DMS - 39%
Cloud & mobility - 28%
Looking at the next 5 year’s forecast, 49% brief and 29% LPM will have more employees than it has desks with the majority of tasks being cloud based. Law firm’s progression in technology is restricted by their ability to raise money to invest in technology and by the lack of innovation in its leaders to help push where to invest.
For everyone in the law suppliers sector, this illustrates the importance to demonstrate the added value; creating trusted connections to show the relevant benefits for the firm and as I see it, a survival guide in how to embrace and grow in this challenging economy.
A review of the colourful history of Tikit; its mergers and its extensive growth over the past 25 years. Growth through a focus on providing innovative and specialist technologies to the legal sector and in making their IP stronger through it’s carefully selected partners. Partners that helped build the functionality within their four key focus areas.
Though it’s easy to assume a large company like Tikit have grown exponentially through taking on anyone and everyone, it was interesting to hear Katherine talk about the process in which they choose partners. There is clear selection criteria and process including:
Specialism and innovation
Integration into own IP
Value that Tikit brings to the partnership – There needs to be a two-way benefit
Security, reference and procurement checks - as part of BT - does the product work, how can it be implemented
Sponsorship and buy-in from business
There are then sales, training and deployment plans, a scenario planning around how to deploy, what’s being sold... all the while still focusing on:
It’s ongoing partner relationship
Dialogue - different levels, trust and ongoing invocation
Investment (time and money)
Honesty and challenge
From the outside looking in, Tikit can be seen as a large corporate company but from listening, it’s journey is anything but. With a key focus on the customer and itself, it ensures a mutually beneficial, trusting, lasting relationship; something which was of key importance in Leon Hutchinson’s speech.