Legal technology is often misunderstood. To some, it is regarded as the new computing algorithm, as a simple enhancement in process or everything in between.

David Curle, director of Market Intelligence for Thomson Reuters Legal, spoke on this topic last week at ABA TECHSHOW 2017 in Chicago. He began with a review of seven ways to consider legal technology:

  • data-driven decision-making
  • process thinking
  • operations thinking
  • supply chain thinking
  • design thinking
  • R&D thinking
  • change management

Data-driven decision-making, a common management approach to business governance that values decisions that can be supported by data, may seem overwhelming, certainly if there is a lack of clear focus. Relying on metrics or analytics to gain insight into multiple areas of the decision-making process can help improve efficiencies and measure effectiveness. But managing the amount of data required may be overwhelming, so starting small can help gain a deeper understanding and narrow ones focus.

It’s important to note that there are improved tools that can be used to access data leverage its power, and as Curle noted, this is often where you hear “artificial intelligence” – which  is built completely on data – enter the discussion.

He noted that “before you can do data analysis, you need data, and before you can have data, you need measurable processes.” This is where process analysis provides key data to help improve and become more efficient, providing a better understanding of process, ability to improve cost management, more efficient response for RFPs, and more.

Law firms and legal departments are increasingly treating their operations as a business would, but many firms are either new to, or have not explored, operations thinking. It’s worth noting, Curle adds, that corporate legal departments have taken a significant lead in this area, but many firms are implementing this through operations personnel and process.

One area legal professionals often do not view themselves as part of – the supply chain. Clients are interested in finding the best overall provider for a particular service, and more often than not, that may not be a traditional firm. This is where third-party alternative legal services providers emerge. They may not always be a lower-cost option, but their sweet spot may be expertise. By tapping into third party providers, legal professionals can position themselves to better respond to market demands to be more competitive in cost and expertise, while meeting client needs.

With design thinking, a consumer’s expectations are likely formed before any interaction, taking into account different aspects like accessibility, customer experiences and more. Likewise, R&D thinking has led to the development of a large startup scene, with numerous communities and professional organizations being formed. Finally, change management will require legal professionals to adjust and adapt to the pace of change. And the industry will need to likely accept and absorb professionals that are not lawyers.

To stay current on technology advancements in legal, check out Curle’s further suggestions on where to get the best insights here.