LegalTech New York Update 2013

19th Aug 2013

Emerging Trends at LegalTech 2013, New York

Earlier this year I was in the US and had the opportunity of attending LegalTech in New York. LegalTech is the largest legal technology show in the world. Vendors use the show to launch new products and set the agenda for the year ahead. It provides a glimpse of what the legal software vendors want you to buy! The hot topics I picked up were eDiscovery and Secure Collaboration.


Discovery and eDiscovery are really nothing new. But the volume of data and the technologies available make everything new and different. As parties have started exchanging data in discovery processes they have discovered that the volumes of data are enormous. So we need tools to help us zero in on the important documents.

The broad term for any software that helps with eDiscovery is called Technology Assisted Review (TAR). Using some form of technology to analyse and divide our data into sets – responsive and non-responsive data sets. In its simplest form this may be building a text index and allowing keyword searches. Keyword review can be relatively fast and accurate but we need to remember that it relies on the lawyer knowing which words to search. It can be hit or miss.

Predictive Coding is a type of machine-learning technology that enables a computer to help predict how documents should be classified based on limited human input. A lawyer trains the software and samples the output to ensure quality. The hope is that the lawyer spends less time wading through non-responsive documents.

It is a rapidly changing area of technology and law as the courts and vendors struggle to handle cases involving millions of documents. And remember that if eDiscovery is like any other emerging technology trend there will be a sifting out of vendors.

Secure Collaboration

At many levels and in many situations, firms are interacting with other parties – clients, barristers, courts, other firms. Over the past 10 years we have seen the rise of email and attachments to email as almost the defacto standard for document exchange.

I am still surprised at how many users exchange Microsoft Word documents complete with all editing changes hidden in them. We need to be aware that all Word documents contain metadata around who wrote the file, when was it created and when was it modified. In fact, any user with a bit of knowledge can reveal recent edits to the document. So I would encourage you to convert Word documents to PDF for emailing.

Exchanging documents by email is perfectly adequate with small amounts of data but how do you exchange and collaborate on large amounts of data?

Client Portals – These give your clients secure access to your data. There are a number of advantages. Not sending data outside the company firewall. Access is only available to third parties that have the password. Helps clients feel special – access 24 X 7 to their data. These systems will usually have an audit trail on access. They will also be able to control the types of access granted. For instance you may only allow read access – not copy or print.

Deal Rooms & File sharing portalsYou may be using some form of cloud file sharing service. There are a whole range of vendors that have seen an opportunity for providing similar services to the business community that are secure and private. Some vendors simply provide a secure environment – you do the rest. Other vendors will interact with your document management system. Most of these vendors are holding static document content and allowing multiple parties to access the data. They will provide audit information on who has accessed and when. Some vendors provide a collaboration environment that allows multi party online editing.

So next time you are told that someone is trying to email 50 Mb of files you will be able to consider using other forms of secure online exchange.

A final thought. I love technology. Good technology implemented well can help a firm become more productive. But bad technology can be a disaster. Don’t let technology vendors dazzle you with jargon.

This post was originally published at the ALPMA Blog – A Survival Guide For Legal Practice Managers –