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Approaching Big Data: advice for legal professionals

The role of Big Data and new technology are continuing to shake up the legal market. There is increasing pressure on law firms, in-house lawyers, and legal service providers to tackle a variety of complex issues, from regulatory compliance to cybersecurity.

Additionally, though, there is an existent pressure on legal teams to adopt new methodologies quickly to improve efficiencies and outcomes.

Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Services and Microsoft recently hosted a roundtable with in-house counsel from major global corporations, law firm partners, legal operations executives and data scientists, to explore the impact such developments are having on the legal market.

Most of the discussion focused on the challenges posed by data, analytics, and new technology – as well as the overall ‘people and process’ issues that impact how to deal with data and technology so solutions can be established.

Throughout the roundtable discussion, the legal experts identified several key points which could help lawyers’ experience with Big Data: collaboration; planning ahead; law firms should mirror the businesses they serve; and, it’s not just about the latest technology.

David Curran, Global Director, Risk and Compliance, at Thomson Reuters, who attended the roundtable, said that it was acknowledged during the discussion that lawyers are resistant to change, but as data-driven innovation is already happening, the conversation quickly shifts to overcoming resistance and figuring how the people and process components of change needed to be addressed.

In a blog post for the Legal Executive Institute, Curran added: “There was general agreement that even as lawyers are held back by ambivalence, a lack of technology experience, or an inability to see the value of these new assets, they can be brought along.

“Those in attendance who are charged with providing data to attorneys said that as data providers, they don’t always understand exactly what or, more importantly, why data is needed” – and many in attendance agreed a ‘mutual understanding of goals’ is critical. Though there was widespread agreement to one in-house counsel’s statement that “data is like crack. It is a gateway drug to innovate.” Yet there needs to be a proactive approach and planning is required to reap the benefits of Big Data.

Often we see technology as a panacea to all that ails, but the latest “shiny object” won’t always be a magic solution. The discussion’s biggest takeaway was the need to shift the conversation to ‘What is the problem we are solving for?’ and not just focusing on the latest technology.

To read the original article from the roundtable discussion, click here.

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