With ILTACON fast approaching, legal technology is on the mind of many. We all know that technology is vital to legal services. Are there technologies that can replace or obviate lawyers’ work? Augment their skills? Improve productivity? Reduce errors and risk? Absolutely. Yet we need not fear that robot lawyers driven by AI, at least not any time soon. As Andrew Ng, one of the leading AI scientists write recently in Harvard Business Review, “If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it now or in the near future.” Rather few legal tasks can be done with less than “one second of thought.”
At a recent Ark Conference on Knowledge Management for the Legal Profession, I was honored to have the keynote task of framing a theme for the 14 topics ahead on the agenda. KM in law is an ever more malleable concept and force, so my talk covered a wide ground. The Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute published the talk as a white paper titled “Practice Engineering for 21st Century Legal Services.”
Part I concerns the (now) essential law-degree-not-required professional roles in legal services—knowledge, pricing, process & projects, practice support, legal ops—and sets the business and operational context. Part II examines what legal services organizations deliver, and how they do it. And Part III considers technology and recommends a new, unifying role—the practice engineer.
For law firms, the evolution of knowledge management, pricing, project management, practice support, and other professional specialties surrounding the practice of law is, and must be, toward systems thinking. For corporate legal departments, legal operations professionals have kick-started that evolution. Now, we all need to study systems engineering.
And when we do become Practice Engineers, in New York State at least, we can have special license plates.
You can download the white paper in its entirety here.
See Michael Mills speak at ILTACON2017 11am-12:30pm on Wednesday, August 16th in the session “Data? Science. Now!” (#ILTAG100)