At the recent LawTech Futures conference, two clients (Nils Briendstein of Invensys and Kevin Green of IBM UK Limited) discussed with two leading legal service providers (John Young of Hogan Lovells and Abby Ewen of Simmons & Simmons) the role of technology in future lawyer-client relationships.

The following key points emerged:

  • Connectivity – the ease of doing business is important
  • Expertise and experience come first – rather than IT products
  • Integration – must be seamless
  • Control – clients don’t want to use firms’ systems, they want their own
  • Content – always comes from the client, so why do some firms provide “empty portals”
  • CRM – why are relationship partners former lawyers when they should be people with IT/technology backgrounds?
  • IT to IT – whilst lawyer to lawyer relationships are the norm, there needed to be IT-to-IT relationships in order for collaboration to take place – particularly as most lawyers are unfamiliar with the significant technology advances that are already available at their firms
  • General Counsel – GC can sometimes act as a barrier to the technology people communicating with their counterparts, possibly because of the fear of the costs of collaboration, which prevents real value being added this way
  • Innovation – is a “nice to have”
  • Reinventing the wheel – Too often lawyers say “Never heard of that – we need to develop it from scratch” whilst clients want the answer to “What are you doing with other clients – and how might we take advantage?”