Legal Tender: The Human Touch We Need in this Techy, Wacky World
In the same week, I experienced these three conversations around law and technology:
Our company was asked to sponsor a panel for an upcoming legal conference. I studied the past three years of panel topics, and both eDiscovery and legal technology were noticeably missing. When I suggested several ideas around the benefits of applying technology in eDiscovery, the attorney in charge decided to make the panel about proportionality, saying that he did not want to “force technology, albeit state-of-the-art technology, on parties and their lawyers.”
At a dinner the other night, I sat by the GC of a large corporation and asked her about their use of continuous active learning tools in their eDiscovery workflows. She told me that her CEO does not consider technology spend in the legal department a wise use of their funds, even though the company carries a heavy load of litigation. They don’t have a matter management system or any form of communication tools except email, much less any advanced data analytics or data reuse technology. How does she keep up? “No sleep, hundreds of spreadsheets, and cheap manual labor.” By the way, this company makes their billions by mining data.
At CLOC in Las Vegas, I explored an eDiscovery tech tool that we might use for certain employment disputes and investigations. I asked the sales rep how they had managed to gain widespread adoption by one of the world’s largest corporations. He said that the client was the easy part. The most resistance came from the corporation’s numerous outside counsel. After much back and forth, the client finally had to mandate to their hundreds of attorneys that if they did not adopt this platform, they were out the door. The 800-pound gorilla tactic worked. All of the outside counsel are now on board.
After these conversations, I was disheartened at the reality of how law is practiced versus how it could be. How technology is feared in the real world but revered in case studies. The gap is enormous.
I’ve never been a fan of forcing anyone to comply with anything, as these efforts are short lived and no real change occurs. It takes a tender touch – and much more time, empathy, and patience to help someone learn to make their own good decision than to go ahead and make it for them. (If you are a parent, you know exactly what I am talking about.)
The same applies here. If we want to shape the system, we have to first understand the humans who act inside it.
Leigh Vickery serves as the director of strategy and innovation for Level 2 Legal Solutions. A graduate of Baylor University in English and psychology, Leigh sees problems as playgrounds. She finds delight in finding answers. Leigh's insatiable curiosity and internal drive to figure things out - along with her ability to connect dots others never see - make her an invaluable resource across the whole company.