Opening Remarks for Alternative Legal IT Conference

Allvision’s Andrew Haslam was the chair on the first day of the Lexis Nexis Alternative Legal IT conference and gave the following opening remarks.

We have an exciting programme for you, but before we go through that, I just wanted to reflect on last year’s conference (which is a big reason why I am here this year).
Last year, I was convinced that a number of factors were combining to produce something of a perfect storm to force change upon law firms and how they use IT, and I’d like to share those with you and put them in context with the programme. I’m going to look at three main areas.
First, was the way in which information is used, or to put it another way, the rise of these things, the tablet, with IDC predicting global sales of 62.5M tablets and iPads having 68% of that. Within a week of the last year’s conference Hogan Lovells had capitulated and was supporting iPads, at Christmas I got one, in the 2011 Legal Tech they dominated the forthcoming announcements. In the past month, HP has announced they are getting out of the hardware business and Microsoft have unveiled Windows 8 with a very definite focus on mobile computing. Now, I don’t agree with the “death of the PC” brigade, but I do think that the way in which law firm users consume and use information is changing and if the lawyers are finally embracing technology, don’t we have to go with the flow? There are several sessions that will be exploring the sub-themes within this topic, expect to be challenged and have your thinking expanded. I personally think that we are on the cusp of a change in how technology works, as big as the move from MS-DOS to Windows, or the explosive growth of the World Wide Web, and that the technology landscape over the next few years will evolve in dramatic ways that we are just beginning to see, so let us give you some pointers as to where it might end up.
Second, and we will be getting into this in a big way this morning, were the deep challenges to the very way law firms operate, with the (at that point 15 month) lead in to the Legal Services Act. Now it might have been put back by few months, but it is coming and it will lead to significant changes in the legal landscape. Richard Susskind has been talking about “The death of lawyers” for some time, but he is now putting a 5 year time frame on the period over which they will either evolve or see their business model be forced to change. In a minute we will be looking at how new firms are already out there and how they are operating, then explore how strategic firms can meet those challenges, and in tomorrow morning’s session we will try to look into the future and see what tools there might be to help us along the way.
Finally, there were lots of ways in which the people who make up firms were changing, both in their willingness to embrace new technologies and how they might use them. From Generation X, Y and Z and their differences, through to the use of social media, and the infiltration of techniques from games and interactive media into learning and day to day work, all of these were explored a year ago and are re-visited again this year. If Internet years are 7 times a chronological one, we have 7 years of new experience to pass on to you.
So, over the next two days, we are going to look at the way in which law firms operate, how the technology that supports them is changing and the very people that make up the business organism are evolving. One heck of a programme and time to get on with it.



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