In February, as most New Zealanders were heading to the beach, I was making my annual trek through the snow and freezing temperatures to New York where all of the legal technology community converge for the annual LegalTech show.
Legal Tech is the largest and most prestigious event on the legal technology calendar, held annually at the New York Hilton in Midtown Manhattan.
The event attracts in excess of 13,000 attendees, in addition to the 300 exhibition booths with providers showcasing their products and services. This is without considering the other providers who hire out additional rooms in the Hilton and adjacent hotels for further meetings and demos.
A New Zealand audience would be blown away with the numbers and the scale of an event just showcasing legal technology and eDiscovery – I know I was the first time I ever attended, which is many years ago now. eDiscovery has now become a multi-billion dollar industry and continues to increase year on year.
The event brings together key judicial figures, lawyers, barristers, litigation support professionals and technology and service providers from around the globe. The event itself has 21 educational tracks, looking at many legal technology issues, including eDiscovery, information governance, Risk and Compliance, Big Data, the evolution of lawyering and many more.
Anybody who is anybody in the legal technology space is at LegalTech in some capacity. I was the sole representative from the New Zealand eDiscovery and legal technology industry.
With technology evolving at an alarming rate it is now more important than ever to continue to develop knowledge in this area of the law where the technology and practices are constantly evolving.
Globally most organisations and their law firms are struggling to cope with the exponential increase in the sources and volumes of information, as well as the increasing costs associated with the eDiscovery process. It is now essential that the most effective tools and practices are embraced to help reduce the cost and burden of the discovery process.
LegalTech provides the opportunity to network with fellow industry professionals and learn more about the latest developments in technology and practices to combat the challenges in managing electronic information. LegalTech 2014 was my busiest yet, with endless meetings away from the show as well as numerous demos and discussions about the latest developments – not to mention the many parties long into the night.
Each year LegalTech sets the global agenda for what is happening in the legal technology space. The show provides the opportunity to find out about the latest trends as LegalTech is when many of the providers launch new releases of their products.
The underlying theme of the event is the focus on the tools and practices that can assist legal professionals manage information more effectively in today’s digital world.
The focus is on moving away from manual processes of the past, especially when it comes to reviewing documents. There is now industry acceptance that solely human review is no longer possible if we want to reduce the burden and cost of the process. The focus is on technology that maximises the expertise of lawyers to make decisions better. Options like predictive coding (as explained in LawTalk 835, 14 February 2014), data analytics and other tools that assist lawyers to get to the important documents quickly and cost effectively are becoming more commonplace.
Most jurisdictions have similar requirements to New Zealand, which all place greater importance on the upfront investment to ensure the discovery process can be carried out in a proportionate and reasonable manner, with the various technologies being the tools to help facilitate this.
Since the New Zealand discovery rules came into force in 2012, it is now essential to invest more time at the outset of a matter to strategically plan the best approach. This approach will include understanding what information your client has, in addition to the potential costs involved as well as the best practices and tools available to enable the legal team to get to the most important information quickly and cost effectively.
Bringing latest developments to NZ
Attending events like LegalTech help me ensure New Zealand clients benefit from the most up-to-date advice and guidance around the most effective industry practices and tools available.
The exposure to the latest developments and practices will provide greater options for New Zealand firms to help them reduce the burden and cost of eDiscovery. Often New Zealand law firms are isolated from the key developments in this fast changing industry, which can lead to many unnecessary costs. Embracing some of these options will help to simplify the exercise for New Zealand lawyers.
To assist the process, one significant trend is the annual software licences of many in-house products, which provide the opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate their options on an annual basis. To do this it is important to be aware of the latest developments as technology can evolve considerably in 12 months.
An opportunity to keep up with all the latest developments in technology and practices cannot be missed. I already have next year’s LegalTech show in my diary.
Andrew King is a litigation support consultant at E-Discovery Consulting (www.e-discovery.co.nz), where he advises on strategies and tools to simplify the discovery process, as well as providing the option to manage the entire eDiscovery process – including providing independent eDiscovery software advice. Andrew can be contacted on 027 247 2011 or firstname.lastname@example.org