This afternoon, I attended a session at ILTA titled “Here, Now & Beyond Law 2020,” presented by Jeffrey Brandt (PinHawk), David Stanton and Marty Metz (both with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman).

They discussed factors effecting significant change for law firms today. The panel seemed to agree on the importance of information governance and how it will be central to law firms going forward. There are regulatory, ethical, financial and technical pressures to move into a document management system, as well as client demand and expectations, according to Stanton. “We need to make sure all of our attorneys at all of our firms have bought into this,” he said. “Taking a broader view of what’s good for the firm is really important.”

On the topic of cyber security, there are emerging risks and other pressures coming into play. For example, if you’re not doing encryption or two-factor authentication, those should be high on your list of to-dos, according to the panel. Stanton added that the risk of not implementing two-factor authentication far outweighs the extra time it takes to put it into place. It’s hard not to get caught up on the idea that security is not only about technology, concluded Metz.

The panel also addressed process mapping and project management. In terms of this discussion, process mapping is what a firm does at the strategic level and project management deals with the tactical aspect of the work. Both are about how a firm can increase profitability and reduce cost, according to the panelists.

Centralization was also discussed. Moving administrative staff to a central location will reduce costs and result in a more cohesive workflow, according to Metz.  Production centers, geographic choices, integration challenges and costs should all be considered.

When it comes to commoditization and the changing workforce, there are a lot of people in organizations that aren’t law firms offering legal services, according to Stanton. He called this an “unauthorized practice of law space.” He also mentioned that we are seeing new layers of legal professionals within firms, like eDiscovery specialists, and that trend will just continue to grow.

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