Sean Lynch, Manager, Legal Solutions at Commonwealth Legal, shares his insights on the hugely successful Small Law Forum, Evening the Playing Field, at Technology in Practice.
The panel from left to right: James LeBer, Managing Partner, Advocates LLP, Matthew Gottlieb, Partner, Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, Lisa Evenson, Paralegal/eDiscovery Specialist, Harper Grey LLP, Ewan Christie, Associate, Levitt LLP and Sean Lynch.
I had the pleasure of moderating the Small Firm Forum at Technology in Practice 2017 in Toronto (covered here by Canadian Lawyer Magazine) with industry thought-leaders Matthew Gottlieb, Ewan Christie, and Lisa Evenson.
I wanted a session at the conference dedicated specifically to small to mid-sized firms because I believe that they are poised to become the drivers in the use of advanced analytics and technology-assisted document review. While large law firms might have been the first to "dip their toe into the analytics waters", it is the agility of small firms to adapt to their clients’ changing needs that will help push them to forefront of technology-driven solutions.
- The reduced bureaucracy at a small law firm allows associates and partners to adapt more rapidly to the specific needs of their clients and their cases.
- Some large firms have aligned themselves to only one external vendor, technology, or process, which can limit their flexiblity to changing demands.
- “Adaptability” was discussed as being at the core of a small firm’s competitive advantage.
- Smaller firms are facing greater challenges when dealing with, for example, a $1 million litigation that 3 years ago may have had a collection of 5,000-25,000 documents and now has a collection of 100,000-250,000 documents.
I am passionate about increasing access to justice through the use of technology, and was excited by how well-attended this Small Firm Forum was, and by how engaged the audience was with the panel. The interaction between the audience and the panel showed a significant change in the “conversation” around the use of technology to tackle these large document sets. No longer are the considerations hypothetical: it’s not, “what if I have a collection of 1,000,000 documents?” it’s “I have 1,000,000 documents right now in a collection and I need to learn how to deal with them.”
As exemplified by the participants in the Small Firm Forum, necessity is now not only the soul of invention, but the soul of innovation.
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By combining the human understanding of an issue, with objective, advanced analytical software, it is possible for even smaller teams to analyze and categorize large collections of electronically stored information in an efficient and cost-effective way.