With so many legal tech services available, how do attorneys find the One?

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When it comes to the ever-growing list of options available to lawyers for litigation support and technology services, attorney Seth Wilson said he tries to keep his analysis simple.

Seth Wilson

Wilson, a business and estate planning attorney at Adler Attorneys in Noblesville, said it comes down to figuring out what lawyers are actually going to use. Law firms can invest in the latest and greatest technology services, but if no one understands how to use it, that’s wasted money.

In general, Wilson said the tools that are easiest to use will get the most traction — and bonus points if they’re also fun.

A 2022 report from U.S. Legal Support found 19% of survey respondents expected to spend more on outside vendors for litigation support in the next year, and 13% expected to use more vendors. Almost half of the respondents listed data management and e-discovery as their top priorities going forward.

As attorneys anticipate litigation services — especially in the technology sphere — to continue evolving, one issue they’ll have to settle is how to vet an increasing number of options, determining what will be the most beneficial and cost-effective.

“There’s so much stuff out there,” Wilson said of the expanding service options.

‘Software can become overwhelming’

Deanna Marquez

Deanna Marquez, litigation support partner at Modern Information Solutions, said the market for litigation support and technology services has “changed drastically” from when the company started in 2009.

MIS has clients across the country for litigation support, Marquez said, with a focus on mass tort litigation.

A big difference from the early days of MIS to now, she said, is that the majority of software is now cloud-based, meaning law firms that previously had only a few options to choose from now have a seemingly unlimited number of options.

People can be overwhelmed by those options, Marquez said, noting there’s some uncertainty that also extends to pricing, because the flat-rate fee structure is giving way to monthly fees that can fluctuate depending on different service packages available.

“Software can become overwhelming,” she said.

Enrique Flores

Enrique Flores can attest to that.

Flores, a solo personal injury attorney in Indianapolis, said when it comes to any kind of technology service for lawyers — whether it’s for litigation or something else — the bottom line is that you eventually just have to pick one and see if it works.

Flores, who chairs the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Litigation Section, said he doesn’t use a litigation support service because he doesn’t think his caseload is large enough to justify the cost. But he said he’s sat through some presentations from litigation support companies and considers there to be an overload of technology resources, in general.

From a larger firm perspective, Frost Brown Todd said “the evaluation of a potential review platform can take months or years to fully vet,” according to Chassidy King and Joe Isom of the firm’s Litigation Support Team.

They added, “In the meantime, technology and pricing structures are evolving. We are seeing 40-plus spam emails from e-discovery vendors per week, and only recognize one-third of them.”

Building trust

Ryan Short

Other than the general increase in service options, Ryan Short, vice president of revenue at Proteus Discovery Group in Indianapolis, said another way the market has changed recently is that there are fewer truly local options to choose from as those companies get absorbed into larger entities.

The reality, Short said, is that there has been a boom in technology resources not just in the legal field, but in professional services more broadly.

“We can have a massive budget to go to every trade show and have all the banner ads,” he said, “… but at the end of the day, it comes down to, ‘Who do we know and who trusts us?’”

For people having to make decisions about what to use and pay for, Short said his advice is similar: Ask people you trust.

That’s the approach at FBT, with King and Isom saying the firm considered “several metrics” when looking for a review platform, and consulted with other law firms and professional groups.

From law to tech

Rob Scott

Rob Scott, a technology lawyer at Texas-based Scott & Scott LLP, doesn’t need to be sold on the benefits of technology integration. He represents corporations in technology matters including cloud-based transactions, managed services contracts, data privacy and cybersecurity risk management.

Scott’s firm recently launched a separate entity, Monjur, a platform designed to help technology firms transition from the traditional structure of hourly or project fees to long-term, recurring revenue contracts. The platform starts with a contract template that is then customized for individual clients.

The best approach to legal technology, Scott said, is to put the most powerful tech tools into the hands of the most experienced attorneys.

Getting attorneys on board with innovations in technology can be difficult, he said, because there will always be concerns about ethical implications with things such as confidentiality — which, he added, is a legitimate thing to be worried about.

When it comes to the intersection of litigation support and artificial intelligence — an area where attorneys are especially wary — Scott said he’s seen the most success with e-discovery and legal research.

Still, he said whenever lawyers are considering implementing a new piece of technology, caution is warranted.

And not everything is as flashy as artificial intelligence. Wilson referenced something as simple as doing metadata entry for e-discovery information.

“That can be very mundane,” Wilson said, “yet super important.”•

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