Welcome to the last Orange Rag newsletter of the year, in which we have worked hard to canvas views from senior decision makers across the legal sector as to what the key milestones, opportunities and challenges of 2023 have been.
We are also publishing brand new legal industry generative AI guidance, following a meeting of around 30 senior IT, knowledge and law firm leaders in the UK. Organised and chaired by myself and DAC Beachcroft’s IT director David Aird, the ambition for the meeting was to share ideas and create some joined up industry thinking at a time when law firms are facing unprecedented challenges in how they adopt generative AI; the way they charge clients; and the way they train future staff and lawyers. There are more details on that in our Top Stories section.
It has been an extraordinary year, in which, at last, technology has become a strategic board level conversation within law firms. In this issue I speak with world renowned legal technology author and adviser, Professor Richard Susskind, about the changes he has witnessed over the past year, and what that means for law firms and for access to justice. “The new, stiffest competitor to a law firm is an AI-empowered client,” he says.
This issue features interviews with Joy Heath Rush, CEO of the International Legal Technology Association; Tony McKenna, director of information technology and change at UK top 100 law firm Howard Kennedy, who this year was elected as the first president of ILTA outside of North America; Andrew Powell, CIO of UK top 50 law firm Macfarlanes; Derek Southall, chairman of the UK Legal IT Innovators Group (LITIG); Shawn Curran, director of legal technology at UK top 50 law firm Travers Smith; Catie Sheret, general counsel and company secretary at Cambridge University Press & Assessment; Frances Anderson, CEO of legal technology events company Netlaw Media; and Judith Flournoy, CIO of Am Law 200 firm Kelley Drye & Warren. Each has a different take on the challenges and opportunities presented by the past year, and the urgency with which legal organisations need to act.
We also canvassed a handful of respected legal technology vendors on their key takeaways from 2023, and what 2024 has in store.
There are already signs that more work will be claimed back by in-house legal teams – a trend that has, as Heath Rush points out, been growing since the pandemic. Law firms have an opportunity to reinvent themselves and business partners have an opportunity to support them as they navigate unfamiliar terrain. But the lines between who is your competitor and who is your ally have never appeared greyer.
As legal organisations prepare to enter 2024, I hope this newsletter will provide an invaluable opportunity for reflection.