Janders Dean & Chicago-Kent College of Law Legal Horizons Conference Chicago 2016

In May I reported on the Janders Dean Horizons Conference in London, which focused on the legal knowledge, innovation and technology issues law firms and legal practitioners are facing in the UK market.

Over the past few years Janders Dean has become a leader in consultancy on legal knowledge, innovation, technology implementation, and project management, which are increasingly becoming make-or-break decisions for those operating in the legal services industry.

Janders Dean has also developed a global presence, and their conferences are now held on three continents: Europe, North America, and Australia. My report on the London Conference highlighted the main issues of concern in the UK legal market.

The inaugural North American conference in Chicago, hosted by the Chicago-Kent College of Law, was an exclusive invitation-only thought-leadership event, similar to the London conference.

As was the case with the London conference, the Chicago event was also significant from a gender balance perspective, with over 50% of those presenting at this latest Janders Dean event being female, in stark contrast to other conferences with a legal and technology focus.

Related stories:
Janders Dean Horizons Conference London 2016
Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Thought Leadership Forum, London 2015
7th Annual Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conference
6th Annual Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conference

The Chicago conference was held on Thursday, 14 July and I availed myself of being a #HashtagAttendee, courtesy of Twitter. Judging by the popularity of the ‘#JDHorizons‘ and ‘#JDCK16‘ hashtags, the Chicago conference was another great success for Janders Dean.

The Chicago event had a high-impact format, a somewhat extended PechaKucha-style, with most sessions allocated only 10 to 20 minutes, keeping presenters brief and on their toes, and the audience engaged and thrilled.

The themes of the Chicago conference indicate that the volatile nature of the global economy and universal technological advances are resulting in largely identical concerns for the legal industry across the globe.

The main themes in Chicago largely aligned with the issues identified at the London conference earlier this year, including:

  • the importance of ‘humanity’ in law;
  • a new generation of lawyers for whom technology is implied, and natural;
  • an ongoing focus on client experience and the scientific methods of building better user experiences; and
  • the evolving expectations of in-house teams and clients recognised as a driving force for change.

But there were also some differences, with the US showing a stronger focus on project management, data mining, customer experience design, and AI technology implementation, such as:

  • the future role of smart contracts, blockchain, and applied artificial intelligence in the development of legal services – the rise of the ‘legal engineer’;
  • the increasing focus on the importance of data analysis to improve client service and business success; and
  • the ‘liquid expectations’ of customers when it comes to service delivery.

My favourite new concept from the Chicago event is ‘liquid expectations,’ introduced by Martha Cotton of ‘gravity tank.’ The concept is essentially that customers will transfer their customer experience expectations across the various businesses and industries with which they interact – if they have experienced a high quality interaction from one business or industry, they will expect to have the same experience from other business and industries.

What this means for the legal services industry is that they can no longer operate in a vacuum, divorced from the realities of the world around them, and must learn, and take cues, from other industries in how they deliver their services and achieve customer satisfaction.

Martha Cotton’s presentation awakened an interest in me to explore ‘service design’ further in the coming months.

The importance of legal project management in providing a better client experience and controlling costs was also strongly emphasised by both Lisa Damon, Partner at Seyfarth Shaw, and Lucy Bassli, Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft – this is a trend that has also been noticeable in the last few years at Australian law firms.

One curious observations made at the conference by John Fernandez, Chief Innovation Officer and Partner at Dentons, related to resistance to change, innovation, and new technology implementation by law firm partners – a resistance which we were told is … increasing. The experience in the Australian legal market is unlikely to match this observation about the US legal industry, as illustrated by many recent innovative service offerings from a range of Australian law firms.

As usual, I curated below what I consider some of the best tweets of the Chicago conference. The tweets offer an insight into current themes and issues in legal knowledge, innovation, and technology in the US.

Were you at the Chicago Horizons Conference? Do you have first-hand insights from the day which you would like to share? Please leave your comment below!

As with all Janders Dean events, the Chicago conference kicked off with warm welcomes …

The first speaker of the day was Kate Johnson, Change and Transformation Lead at Google, talking about productivity transformation through technology lessons learned at Google for Work:

Next came Scott Curran, of Beyond Advisers, on lawyers as social innovators driving outcomes and achieving social missions:

Then it was Bill Painter’s turn, from Baker Donelson, discussing assembling contemporary legal services:

The fourth session dealt with digitising services and the mysterious ’18F’, presented by Gail Swanson and Porta Anithporta:

Next, legal start-up cultures were analysed by Neil Araujo of iManage:

Session six was a keynote session delivered by Jim Guszcza, of Deloitte. Guszcza, clearly a lover of data science, spoke about understanding critical context and perspective in data projects:

Joe Otterstetter, of 3M, canvassed the evolving corporate legal department:

One interesting revelation by Joe Otterstetter was that more than half of 3M’s legal department is not legally qualified. The rise of the ‘non-lawyer’ was also discussed last year at the Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Thought Leadership Forum in London. Law firms and legal departments employing non-lawyers, to offer a diversity of experience and skills, has become a high-profile talking-point in the discussions about the future of law. There is a growing recognition that even legal practitioners are increasingly expected to have multidisciplinary qualifications and skills.

Later in the day we learned that the composition of Microsoft’s legal team is the same when it comes to team members without legal qualifications.

Then came Dan Katz a home-team player, from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, to talk about machine learning and the future of legal analytics:

Chicago-Kent College of Law surprised the conference audience by launching The Law Lab, a premier interdisciplinary teaching and research center focused on legal innovation and technology, as part of Dan Katz’s presentation:

Alma Asay, of Allegory Law, spoke about redefining complex litigation:

Smart contracts had to come up eventually, it has been a hot topic lately around the world …

Nina Kilbride, from Eris Industries, discussed smart contracts, blockchain, and the future of transactions:

Next, Jeannette Eicks, of the Vermont Law School, talked about engaging powerful group ideation:

Lisa Colpoys, from Illinois Legal Aid Online, followed sharing her experience in delivering high impact legal content, and discussing the diminishing access to justice, and lack of funding and resources for legal aid – a presentation that could have been given in my home state in Australia:

Ryan McClead of HighQ took to the stage next to talk about the … future:

Betsy Braham, of Neota Logic, came next exploring new ventures, new possibilities, and the union of law firms and technology providers:

Novus Law’s Ray Bayley discussed emerging strategies set to revolutionise complex legal services:

Martha Cotton, of ‘gravitytank,’ talked about service design, and why the legal industry desperately needs more of it:

The next discussion centred around progressive ways of engaging clients by Lisa Damon from Seyfarth Shaw:

This is not the first time co-creation has been discussed at a Janders Dean conference. In September 2014, perhaps a little ahead of her time, at the 7th Annual Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conference in Sydney, Kristi Mansfield of the Fifth Quadrant spoke of co-creation in terms of being ‘the future of client interaction’.

The next presentation came from Lucy Bassli, of Microsoft, and Jay Hull, of DWT De Novo, on the exploration of the evolution of legal services:

Interestingly an article in Lawyers Weekly earlier this week noted the ongoing cost burdens and increased workloads which are forcing the in-house sector to change the way it operates.

Two thirds of general counsel had said their in-house teams are focusing on using technology more innovatively to support greater cost and time efficiencies, improve document management, and better record and report key metrics. 62% of General Counsel also reported that they are taking steps to improve the project management skills of their teams.

Nicole Shanahan, from ClearAccessIP, dealt with the subject of computational law, and how it can reduce transaction costs:

And, last but not least, John Fernandez, of Dentons, talked about Nextlaw Labs, a global collaborative platform project by Dentons focusing on developing, deploying, and investing in new technologies and processes to transform the practice of law, and large law innovation generally.

In the process he gave the room an interesting reality check about the source of resistance to change at law firms:

… and, as usual, Janders Dean found the time to have a little bit of fun too …

I look forward to attending the Sydney conference on 27 and 28 July. Justin North graciously invited me to attend the Sydney event, and I will be live-tweeting from the conference at @stephensander over two days, and will follow up with a detailed article here at The Vue Post.

My current hypothesis is that the themes and issues that will be discussed at the Sydney conference later this month will largely align with the themes and issues discussed in London and Chicago, indicating that the challenges faced by the legal services industry are global in nature.

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