More than Just Legal Tech: What We Learned at LegalWeek 2019

By Vishal Sunak

At the largest legal technology event of the year, innovation is around every corner. Leaders in the legal industry gathered in New York city in late January to share insights, inspire others and discover new technologies to support their work. We were excited to attend sessions and walk the exhibition floor with legal innovators and influencers alike.

ALM Media opened the conference with a state-of-the-industry update, where they focused on the recent trend among larger organizations shifting from outsourcing legal projects to utilizing in-house counsel. This shift signifies a changing approach toward increasing efficiency and reducing costs in legal departments. As both in-house legal teams and law firms continue to search for technology that will streamline legal processes, the desire for maximized efficiency continues to drive the evaluation of available products.

Legal Week Opening Keynote

In the opening keynote, 80th Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, joined 83rd Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a discussion on “Leadership in the Profession of Law and How it is Changing.” Although their tenures as Attorney Generals were just ten years apart, the difference in their experiences was captivating. AG Gonzales laughed as he explained that a major concern during his time in office from 2005-2007 was whether or not the President should use email, showing how much technology has evolved in just a short period of time. AG Lynch provided captivating stories on how social media has affected the Presidency and the legal profession as a whole from 2015-2017. The different perspectives presented at this year’s opening keynote set the tone for the rest of the conference and demonstrated just how varied the adoption of technology in the legal field can be.

AI is now inseparable from Legal Tech

Throughout the week, the topic of AI worked its way into a large portion of the agenda. Both law firms and in-house counsel are actively seeking ways to automate processes, but questions surrounding the ethical implications of using AI to manage sensitive data were a hot topic throughout the discussions. The overarching opinion seemed to be that AI is most useful for “non-critical” services that are easier to automate, while “critical” services will take some time before seeing AI truly revolutionize their space. For example, a critical service might be a defense team working on a major lawsuit, whereas a non-critical service would be more administrative aspects of a law firm’s daily operation.

The Cloud and Blockchain are here to stay

Cloud-based solutions were also a major topic this year. As brands and law firms expand, and as remote work continues to grow in popularity, reliable cloud-based solutions are vital to an effective practice. Like LinkSquares, platforms that offer cloud-based integrations continue to move to the front of the line during product evaluation processes. Legal professionals want simple solutions that increase efficiency without hefty installation processes, but security is still the top priority.

Finally, we learned more about the expectations of blockchain technology in the future of the legal tech field. Many believe that it will become the new standard in chain of custody, but a large portion of the industry is still working to understand the full capabilities of blockchain technology. Adoption will likely be slow, but legal tech futurists are optimistic that blockchain will revolutionize legal security.

It’s clear that the legal industry is not immune to the boom in revolutionary technologies such as AI and Blockchain. The shifts in technological adoption over the past year have been astounding and have taken place rapidly in many job functions in the legal space. We can’t wait to see how legal tech develops over the next year and to be part of this conversation again at LegalWeek 2020.



Topics: blockchain Industry Events legal legal industry