Last week, we had the opportunity to attend and present at the ACC 2017 Annual Meeting where we gained some valuable insight from thought leaders across the legal sector. At LexisNexis® CounselLink®, innovation and forward-thinking is always at the forefront of what we do, so it was great to be a part of a conversation focused on the future of corporate counsel. Throughout the event, we discovered some overriding themes.
Blockchain, and how it will revolutionize the legal industry was a big part of this year’s discussion. Considered to be one of the most influential innovations in computer science in many years, Blockchain allows digital copy to be shared without being copied or altered, and this technology is poised to serve as the trusted, secure protocol for transactions and the platform for information and value creation both within and outside of the legal industry.
Another hot topic was the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI), or machine learning. While AI will never replace attorneys, it will change what they do. Just like car mechanics once focused on the mechanical components of a vehicle and their focus has now been shifted to the electrical systems that control the way a car functions, AI will provide shortcuts that help attorneys to perform certain tasks. In the future, AI could very well be used in conjunction with brief writing, pleadings preparation, jury selection and even the prediction of jury verdicts. How fast is this change coming? Well, 70% of conference attendees say that they’ve used some form of AI at least occasionally.
The Evolving Role of Corporate Legal Departments
Recently, there has been more pressure for legal departments to operate more like businesses. Corporations have found value in viewing their legal departments like strategic business partners. It’s even increasingly common for general counsel to have a background in business management and many now study business, or even pursue an MBA, as well as practicing law.
The session with one of the greatest numbers in attendance focused on stress management and “Emotional IQ.” All of this additional responsibility being placed on general counsel is leading to a greater need for systems and services that can help them to do their job more efficiently. This is exactly why we place so much emphasis on data and the quality of reporting that CounselLink provides. Armed with the right information, legal departments can contribute in a meaningful way to the business at large.
In partnership with LexisNexis CounselLink, the topic of diversity was introduced into the conference discussion. There’s no doubt that corporate legal departments are becoming more diverse, a realization shared with us by past ACC Presidents and Chairs. Each year, the conference hosts more women and people of color. Staff demographics are not always the way to best asses an organization’s success with diversity initiatives, however. Throughout the panel session, audience members stressed that it’s not enough to know that your organization is reasonably diverse or that you have a diverse team of attorneys working on your matters. What’s more important is to gain an understanding of which employees are working on meaningful or challenging tasks, thus being given the opportunity to grow and advance.
Keeping track of diversity efforts might sound easy, but it can be an incredibly complex task, especially without the help of accurate data. In fact, with bad data getting in the way, technology can actually hinder diversity efforts, which is why it’s more important than ever to ensure that the technology that corporations utilize to manage their legal departments provides superior reporting capabilities that support its diversity initiatives.
Change is, indeed, inevitable, which is why our team feels that it’s vital to stay connected to the trends and advances being made in the legal industry. The role of the legal department is constantly evolving, and at CounselLink, we’re continually innovating to help support these changing needs. We understand how quickly trends develop into best practices, which is why we continue to seek ways to incorporate emerging technology into our plans for the future. Learn more about how CounselLink can support advances in your legal department.
Meghan Frank is the Senior Marketing Manager for enterprise software solutions at LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which includes the InterAction Customer Relationship Management and CounselLink® Enterprise Legal Management solutions. She has an extensive background in leading marketing for enterprise technology solutions, focusing on legal technology for most of her career. Meghan holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor’s degree in marketing from University of Minnesota.