Over the last eight weeks I have traveled around the world to meet our customers, with enough miles technically to have traversed the earth one and a half times or over 37,000 miles.
I had the good fortune to visit customers and present in London, Grand Cayman, New York, Dubai, Washington DC, Auckland, and Sydney. The discussions have been intimate gatherings of global law firm leaders, head’s of startups, medium sized regional firms, and leaders in the US and UAE government sector. I had the opportunity to present to the local offices of Thomson Reuters in Dubai and take the “Orange Chair” Q&A for the Sydney office (video coming soon). I completed a Thomson Reuters ‘Corporates’ session for the Insurance and Financial Industry webinar on Cybersecurity, and performed several live talks demoing to several hundreds the legal implications of the Dark Web. In London the wildly successful and innovative Generate Conference were presentations on the future of blockchain with TR Incubator Kleros, and another talk on cybersecurity to hundreds. Over the last week, I spoke and moderated panels at both a large law and another medium law firm leader dinners, and at forums in Dubai, Auckland, and Sydney. This experience has been amazing! Having that as some background here are some thoughts on legal technology today across the globe.
Brief Customer Observances:
First, I am incredibly impressed with how quickly the legal industry is pivoting and how many now care about legal technology. For the last decade I have traditionally met with law firm and some corporate CIOs, CTOs, Technology Directors and Librarians of all sizes. Now the door has blown open to everyone else. Various practice areas, partners, associates, internal support group, and the executive committees are asking for these meetings and leaning into the conversation around how technology is impacting the legal industry for both the practice and business of law. Reasons are several fold; their clients are asking them, and quite frankly, people are worried about their own jobs.
UK: My experiences have led me to believe that the UK legal market is on average ahead of the curve when it comes to the use and implementation of legal technology. Medium sized firms are rapidly testing and using many of the latest AI infused application to seek efficiency. Partnerships with universities and joining consortia is an increasingly popular option. Having met with the University College London recently, they echoed these same sentiments of active participation from law firms and corporations.
US: The US market is rather bifurcated. There are firms pushing the envelope along the same lines as what the progressives are doing in the UK, but still many law firms seem to keep to the plan that they have had for the last few decades with incremental change.
UAE: The firms are also pushing what they can do with all currently available technology tools in the market. Their courts, especially the International courts might be leading the world. In fact, in the UAE, it is the government which seems to be pushing the private sector. Along with the use of digitalization of workflow and automation of the courts, they are also implementing solutions around blockchain and AI which are bleeding edge.
New Zealand: Besides the top eight firms, many are working on building out their portfolio of technology tools to assist their practitioners in order to be more efficient. There is slow acceptance of AFAs by firms as they await the results of early adopters. There are also several firms going it alone in building workflows and homemade solutions for documentation automation which require multiple developers both onsite and in India.
Australia: After spending time with numerous managing partners and innovation officers, it seems that Australian firms have the potential to lead the way into newer technologies. That said they seem to be on the same page as what we see in New Zealand. Fixed fee arrangements have been around for years, but are not used frequently yet. Australian firms have leaders that can make bold decisions, but for now are testing the waters with newer forms of legal technology in their marketplace.
Appreciation: Internal Partners at Thomson Reuters:
I am extraordinarily fortunate to have made wonderful connections colleagues all over Thomson Reuters. To a one, these individuals clearly have our customers best interest in mind at all times. They epitomize the quality of being there for others as they diligently work through large and small issues in an effort to make our customers happy. There are far too many examples to highlight, but I would like to recognize the following people for their help as I traveled these last eight weeks.
UK: For the Generate Conference, customer meetings and internal strategy meetings, I wish to thank; Kaley Botting, Leila Lobo, Andy Wishart, Lucie Allen, Simon Smith, Ann Lundin, Joe Davis, Joel Black, Vassil Vassilev, Christopher Jeffery, Babar Hayat, Kathryn Davies, Rob Martin, Jennie Bygrave, Brian Carroll, Bruce Frampton, and the rest of the client management, technical, and marketing teams in the UK.
US: For the panel on cryptocurrencies and blockchain for the Federal Government team; Gina Scialabba, Kate Friedrich, Robert Buergenthal, David Wilkins For the Corporates partnership with the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals and Financial Industry on Cybersecurity: Melissa Berry, Matthew Ashley, J., Lauren Wilkins, Daisy Rowan, Dorian Buckethal and the rest of the marketing teams on the Federal Government, Corporates, and Refinitiv. The Demoing the Dark Web talks with Wendy Maines and Blythe McCoy
UAE: For the Managing Partner Dinner, customer meetings, and internal presentations and meetings, I wish to thank; Haley O’Brien, Danny Crouch, Ibrahim Abdel Rehim, Suhayl Hendricks, Nicholas Cronjager, Eslam Mahmoud, Mark Freeman, M., Yasincan Gabriel Altiparmak, and the rest of the client management team in Dubai.