Because my current practice is focused on technology contracting and my current challenge is to figure out how to make my company's contract processes much more efficient, I pretty much ignored the approximately 70% of LegalTech vendors who were pitching their e-discovery products. There are a lot of interesting things going on in that industry, but it doesn't have much application to what I do. Judging by the number of vendors, there are a lot of people who see a lot of money to be made in e-discovery (of course, it's mostly coming out of our employer's, and hence our, pockets), but I have a hard time believing there's a need for that many vendors. It will be interesting to see how the industry shakes out over the next few years. Corporations are going to be spending their dollars and energy on getting their records in order and reducing the volume of saved records so there could be much less of a need for all the e-discovery vendors as we get our acts together in that area.
Leaving out all the e-discovery technology, my vote for the most potentially useful technology that I saw goes to Litéra® Corp. I spent some time talking with founder Deepak Massand today, and I immediately saw how Litéra's Intelligent Document System (IDS) could solve a number of problems for my company, as well as any document-intensive practice.
First some background: At a couple of the LegalTech programs a speaker from Baker Robbins mentioned that some lawyers in private practice are getting 500-800 emails per day. My suggestion that nobody could possibly deal with that many emails and that something needed to be done to fix the underlying processes that create so many emails was met with something like "lawyers like email and that's just the way it has to be. They all have Blackberries so they can handle all the email."
Well, something is wrong here. No one can possibly deal with anywhere near that many emails and get any real work done. I say we need to reengineer our processes to reduce the number of emails people get. Lawyers don't seem to get that -- yet. It may not apply to all practices, but certainly in a transactional practice, we can get creative and figure out better ways to do things that don't require massive amounts of email. One way is to get rid of all those Blackberries in favor of smartphones that can allow lawyers who are out of the office to interact with systems that, in the future will be designed specifically for mobile access.
So, back to Litéra. Litera creates a place to manage document collaboration in a way that could significantly reduce the need for the back-and-forth email exchanges. It looks like it could put an end to the problem of having to sort out revisions from multiple document reviewers, some of whom may have been working on different versions. Rather than sending a Word document to multiple reviewers, you send a link to the Litéra system, where people make their edits and comments in one place. All edits and comments are stored in the system, so you can easily view the history of the document. Much more efficient than sorting through a string of emails to find out what happened.
Litéra seems to be aimed at some of the same problems that Workshare Professional is, but Workshare is based on email, so it does nothing to reduce the volume of email.
Litéra also provides workflow capabilities, which is another thing we need to improve productivity and potentially reduce the volume of email. I'm excited about the productivity possibilities Litéra offers and I'll try to provide more information as I learn more about it.