Last week, we sponsored the ACC Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, and we must say, the event was a tremendous success. Not only were there many repeat Annual Meeting attendees, there were just as many first-timers eager to attend sessions and exchange best practices. Plus, we had an awesome time meeting attendees and handing out ACC/DC shirts at the SimpleLegal booth!
Monday opened with a plenary on blockchain from best-selling author, Don Tapscott. He shared that “blockchain technology is on pace to revolutionize the legal industry” and explained the importance of blockchain in creating a highly secure, real-time digital record for legal information. Dan listed the following as the top areas where blockchain would provide corporate counsel with the most benefit:
- Creating smart (digital) contracts
- Harnessing IPOs
- Protecting corporate IP
- Patenting opportunities
Advice Gleaned from ACC Sessions
In the coming weeks, we’ll be following-up our blog post on the Top ACC Sessions for In-House Counsel with a deeper dive into our favorite presentations. Until then, here’s some practical advice from the sessions we attended.
- Don’t set a legal operations plan and walk away. New innovations are coming all the time. In-house legal teams need to continually revisit their strategic plan and not shy away from making adaptations when necessary. Being proactive and staying involved ensures a strong legal operations program that consistently and continuously delivers value.
- Legal operations and corporate legal need to focus on what their goals are and what they’re trying to measure. The first step is working toward data centralization; having an efficient system to capture necessary data and report on it. For many organizations, this starts with adopting an e-Billing and legal spend management software.
- The most successful in-house legal teams have close partnerships with other internal departments. They “bust silos and build bridges” with finance, HR, and IT (to name a few) to improve cooperation and coordination within the business. This streamlines operations, and also positions legal as strategic leaders.
- When evaluating legal technology, never start the process with a feature wish list. Instead, identify the problems you are facing and determine which problems hold the greatest value to your business. It sounds simple, but exposing mission-critical priorities ensures technology aligns with departmental and company-wide initiatives.
Adopting New Technologies in Legal
The ACC curriculum track included nearly 25 sessions related to technology, so it’s not surprising this was a popular conference topic. We saw speakers discuss the value of data for corporate legal departments, general counsel’s role in cybersecurity preparedness, and how to determine which technologies to implement.
Regardless of the legal tech session, a few underlying themes were present:
- CLOs and GCs see technology as a way to tell the business what the legal group is doing and what value they provide
- Real-time data is key for making smarter, more strategic legal decisions
- AI is one possible “tool in the toolkit” but not a single fix for all reporting needs
- Forward-thinking counsel are looking to eliminate disparate systems through integrations
- Preferred solutions provide a single repository for all documents and legal information
Oh, and don't forget to check out the best swag from the event, courtesy of Above the Law!