Can innovation take legal technology into the future?
The past decade has seen extraordinary change in how legal services are delivered and consumed. From my early experience as national technical editor of the first Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) to my more recent experience in the emerging legal operations profession, I’ve had a front row seat. I’ve recently taken on the role of chief innovation officer at Epiq. With approximately $1 billion in revenue last year from more than 40 countries across our various businesses, supported by 7,000 employees, we have a unique perspective from which we can evaluate opportunities for innovation in the legal industry.
The legal industry is not immune to change. While some technologies are adopted in the legal market more cautiously than in other industries, the rate of change is quickening. Indeed, we are in an age of legal innovation. At Epiq, we’re “all in” with respect to innovation. With an innovation team more than 200 strong, we’re investing in the future of our industry. But we can’t innovate productively in isolation. We rely on our clients’ insights, experiences and requirements as we hone our focus on value. We’ll also learn from colleagues, information technologists, academics and policy makers. I’m excited to be part of such a vibrant ecosystem, and to have the opportunity to share some of our innovation themes broadly.
Innovation theme 1: Legal technology innovation is more than product development
Product development is a core delivery vehicle for our innovation. After all, Epiq is a technology-enabled legal services provider. Software and enterprise architecture that powers the legal industry relies on a combination of proprietary intellectual property and third-party solutions. We are advancing the ball in identification, preservation, collection processing, hosting, review and production of electronically stored information (ESI). But that’s not enough.
Legal process innovation
Innovation requires not only product development, but also business model innovation and process innovation. We’re working with our clients to capture value in all of their business processes relating to legal requirements. We are working not only in discovery services, but in every niche in the legal field: administrative support for law firms, class action services, bankruptcy and corporate restructuring services, and court reporting and videography solutions - all under one commercial umbrella globally. This breadth of experience across our industry gives us perspective that helps us see where enterprise efficiencies and cost savings can be gained, but also where there are opportunities to innovate.
Innovation theme 2: Data products will deliver insight and value
Since we have so many touch points with thousands of clients across hundreds of thousands of matters in jurisdictions across the globe, we have rich opportunities to aggregate data that will illuminate patterns. My experience in legal operations at scale has taught me that it is important to define data before we draw conclusions from it, so we are investing in creating a data and analytics framework that will enable us to answer questions that are most valuable to our market. To support that, we are exploring how we can glean insight from data across the spectrum of legal services delivery. At a minimum, such insight will improve the efficient resolution of legal matters. Optimistically, it may even help avoid legal conflicts in the first place.
Innovation theme 3: Accelerating the rate of change in legal
Legal solutions lag the broader market pace of technology adoption. For example, while the tools “under the hood” of predictive coding and continuous active learning have been standard in commercial applications for years (everything from music selection on Pandora to medical diagnostic support), for some reason the legal industry is still (regularly) debating the merits of what we often call artificial intelligence. This must change. It is simply too expensive not to.
We will be weighting our investment in innovation in areas that make it easier to apply powerful analytics in all of the services we offer. Of course, the details matter. And innovation requires deep collaboration with all of the participants in our market. I anticipate many exciting conversations as I embark on that collaboration in my current role.
Cliff Dutton joined Epiq as chief innovation officer in June 2017. Previously, he was senior vice president and head of eDiscovery and legal strategy in AIG’s global legal operations center.