Monday, February 8, 2010

Knowledge and people will meet at the corner of workflow and data

Check out this terrific interview of David Curle by Paul Lippe in the Huffington Post ("Will Knowledge & People Converge?") .  David is one of the top analysts at Outsell, a firm that covers the legal and professional information services industry.  Paul is the founder of Legal OnRamp.

This interview is a great example of why David is one of the most respected analysts in this space. Whether or not he is prescient, he certainly has his finger on the pulse of the current state.
In particular, I agree with David's first prediction. He says, "One macro trend worth watching is that in the business world, legal decision-making is moving upstream. By that I mean that corporate counsel are thinking twice about turning so much work over to the firms; they are using technology and collaboration to manage more legal work in-house. Companies are also using technology to embed more legal knowledge into the business workflow, so that legal decision points are resolved on the spot."

I couldn't agree with this more. In fact, the first trend that I noted in my recent piece, "Key Legal Industry Trends for 2010" is "The Rise of the Corporate Law Department." In it, I note that the "The down economy has shifted the balance of power from large law firms to corporate legal departments. In 2010, corporate law departments will assert more control over [their operations]. There will be a heightened demand for "tools of empowerment" that provide them with the knowledge, transparency and real-time technology to take control."
Interestingly, I believe that the embedding of "legal knowledge" (read: content) into lawyer's workflows is just part of the story. In addition to traditional "lawyer as knowledge worker" paradigm, I believe that that we, as an industry, are on the cusp of a brand new legal service delivery model: the data-driven lawyer. Having processed tens of billions of legal invoices over the last decade (each of which contains specific task and activity codes), I believe that the corporate lawyer's workflows will be informed by the empirical data derived from the these invoices and other objective data sources. These data will enable smarter decisions around case management, budgets, vendor sourcing, staffing profiles, time lines, and matter strategies. This approach, which is old hat to many other areas of the corporation, will improve stakeholder ROI and build better, more authentic partnerships between corporations and their law firms. Moreover, since the SaaS model has now been fully accepted by the legal profession, it is easy to imagine a platform that embeds this intelligence across the entire legal service delivery chain.

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