Usually this time of the year finds me in some conference center catching up with legal technology vendors from around the world at the annual ILTACON show. This year, the nearly 2,000 vendors, legal technologists, IT professionals, legal department managers, firm management representatives, and journalists were all going to descend on Nashville like the world’s nerdiest bachelorette party.
COVID-19 and common sense kept everyone out of Tennessee this year, but in a year that saw a traditionally tech-phobic profession successfully move online, the 2020 now-online installment of ILTACON is more relevant than ever. The last tech doubters in the legal community are gone, converted by the coronavirus crucible. But now that everyone is on board with using the cloud to work from home — something the tech savvy knew about roughly eight years ago — this is a pretty good time to find out what else is out there. In other words, “If you like Zoom, wait until you see contract analytics.”
The first day of the online show, kicked off with a keynote from Stephen Carver of The Cranfield School of Management on “Leadership Under Stress” focusing on NASA mission failures. Because when you think of a major law firm, the stakes are exactly like strapping human beings on top of several tons of barely controlled explosives.
The first day also brought the expected torrent of new product announcements. Kira Systems, the contract tool that recently made headlines for lending a hand to Campaign Zero, launched a new feature called Answers & Insights coming out next month that will build on the existing 1,000+ built-in smart fields “where users will be able to train Kira to ask their most pressing questions or pick from a selection of built-in questions and get answers in the form of yes/no or multiple-choice options across their contracts and documents.”
While “does this renew automatically” is a reasonably common question, the promise of Answers & Insights is the freedom to craft specific questions that really open up the product for those niche inquiries. One can imagine contracts in some specific industry having standard clauses that the rest of us don’t employ so this provides some good flexibility.
“Answers & Insights represents the next level of our no-code AI technology,” said Dr. Alexander Hudek, Kira Systems CTO & Co-Founder. “It allows you to go beyond simply identifying relevant text by additionally assigning fine grained meaning to extractions. We achieve this without hard-coded rules, custom code, or human intervention, letting you truly scale your knowledge work.”
Meanwhile, relationship management provider Intapp announced a new data integration service to advance the interoperability of firm software with a native-cloud platform that lets you plug any other product or data source into it.
Intapp Integration Service is supported by the first-ever Intapp Open API and a set of prebuilt integration processes to foster overall interoperability. Initially, Intapp plans to deliver purpose–built integrations for four major technology suites — Vuture, Thomson Reuters Elite 3E, iManage, and Dun & Bradstreet — that will take advantage of the Intapp Open API to enable key processes and data sharing; Intapp will announce several additional integration partners in the coming months.
Since the “Int” in “Intapp” is for integration, I guess this could also be styled as Int2App Service?
One of the biggest events of any ILTA conference is the sneak peek at the technology survey providing some insight into emerging trends. This year’s survey was put together before COVID really hit the country and then sent out to gather responses during the pandemic (with a few added queries), creating a bit of an anachronistic result in places because it’s hard to see trends when the world radically changes. On the other hand, the fact that the survey showed a major swing in the past year to the cloud — only about 11 percent are still “uncomfortable” with the cloud — we’re probably going to see huge numbers in cloud adoption in 2021 when the COVID impact is added in.
The biggest challenges facing the industry largely tracked prior years with “user behavior” tagged as a top 3 issue by 46 percent of respondents, up from 39 percent last year underscoring the old adage that the biggest error in computing exists between the keyboard and the chair. Phishing also continued its upward trend having jumped from 19 percent in 2017 to 30 percent this year, proving that the lawyers — ever fonts of human generosity — are still ready to help Nigerian princes.
One of the most striking findings was the extent of documented firm disaster recovery programs. Three-quarters of respondents say they do have a plan and 22 percent said they are currently working on one. I wonder what happened to spur that? All kidding aside, this does reflect a consistent trend with the prevalence of these plans up from around 56 percent in 2014.
What are firms planning to do as work-from-home rules loosen up? The overwhelmingly most popular answer was more working from home with 45 percent choosing that option. That said, upwards of 60 percent of firms are refusing to reimburse for hardware. How this plays out as firms adjust to the reality of more remote work will be interesting.
The full survey results will be available to ILTA members in September and there’s a lot more to dig into based just on this executive summary.
And the day is only about half done. We’ll have continuing coverage throughout the week.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.