Linda Sarti Cardwell, North American Sales Director for Enterprise Legal Management at Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, spends a lot of her time talking to legal professionals about their needs and goals. Throughout the year, she attends conferences where she hears directly from legal operations leaders, as well as presenters and panelists, about their top concerns. In this post, Linda discusses why she’s looking forward to the upcoming Consero Corporate Legal Operations Forum in February.
You’ve been to Consero conferences before, haven’t you? Who is the audience and what format do they use?
They are generally small enough to allow for very useful interactions with attendees. The previous conference in October was for a relatively small group of about 80 legal operations professionals. It’s focused on the right people for ELM Solutions to be in touch with because their responsibilities are exactly the kinds of tasks we can help with.
Vendors and attendees are matched up for conversations that work very much like “speed dating”. We are able to have much more targeted, productive conversations than we would at the typical booth-style trade show.
What topics were on the minds of the conference attendees you spoke with in October?
There were a few themes that emerged as common interests, most notably artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and cybersecurity. These topics aren’t new to legal professionals, but they do have more urgency and interest associated with them now than they have in the past. We had several good conversations on these subjects.
Can you tell us more about those conversations? Let’s start with analytics.
Sure. Where analytics are concerned, dashboards are a major area of interest. Legal operations professionals know that dashboards are an excellent way to communicate to senior executives about legal department performance and results. And most companies now truly understand the value of the data they collect, along with external benchmarks that help them contextualize their results. For example, the UTBMS codes captured by eBilling can help companies understand when in-house or outside counsel are more effective and identify any firms that may need to impose more discipline.
Some of the folks I spoke to in 2017 have lower-end eBilling tools without sophisticated analytics features and so they had taken that on themselves. These companies are starting to build homegrown reports and analytics so they can make sure that their data is working for them.
And how would you characterize the interest in AI?
AI has had major buzz for the last couple of years, but many of the people I spoke to at the conference were ready to get more in-depth on the practical applications. I’m sure that attendees in February will want to learn more about how it can help them improve operations and meet their goals. This is an area where our clients and others want to understand the technology and its benefits before they make any commitments to implement it.
I’m eager to share information about our LegalVIEW® BillAnalyzer service offering, which was of great interest at the last conference. BillAnalyzer leverages AI in combination with expert bill reviewers to increase compliance with billing guidelines and make invoice review much more efficient. The confluence of a large amount of data and human expertise is where AI is poised to make the biggest contribution. Take a look at this blog for more on how AI is bringing unprecedented value to legal operations.
You mentioned an interest in cybersecurity, as well.
Yes, and many of the people I talked with last year were surprised that a spend and matter management provider can help with cybersecurity management. ELM Solutions offers a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment application because legal management tools are a critical point of collaboration between legal departments and their outside counsel.
Companies routinely share very sensitive information that resides outside of their firewalls on law firm systems. Diligent outside counsel management requires clear communication of data security requirements to firms, along with efficient tracking of firm self-assessments and action plans. Some expressed nervousness at “opening Pandora’s box” and wondered what they will do if vulnerabilities are uncovered, but they know they need to move forward.
There is much more to explore with legal departments on all of these themes and many others. In 2018, we will continue to stay in constant touch with our clients and the wider market, and will remain engaged in helping legal departments achieve success.
I look forward to seeing you at the Consero Corporate Legal Operations Forum next month. Or, if you're heading to Legaltech18, I'd love the opportunity to meet you there. Stop by booth 200 or hear more on these topics in a number of thought leadership sessions with ELM Solutions clients and experts.