Risk Update

OCGs, Clouds & LegalTech — Law Firm Outside Counsel Guidelines Software, Trends, Practices & Perspectives + Cloud Adoption

Not quite yet back attending ILTACON (I hope to attend next year and connect live with many of you), I’ve been following updates from the event virtually, with interest. This article caught my eye: “Firm Turns To Tech To Manage Outside Counsel Guidelines” —

  • “As law firms grapple with complicated outside counsel guidelines, some are turning to technology to manage the protocols with increased accuracy and transparency, according to experts.””The 2022 International Legal Technology Association Conference, or ILTACON, hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday featuring law firm leaders and technology providers discussing the struggles with and solutions for effectively managing client outside counsel guidelines, or OCGs.”
  • “Mark J. Agin, the senior manager of global new business intake and information management at Shearman & Sterling LLP, described his law firm’s management of OCGs as a ‘journey in progress.'”
  • “He said during the panel session that the firm previously did not do a great job of monitoring OCGs, resulting in confusion in the conflict resolution process. Agin said the firm’s conflict attorneys were ‘resolving conflicts one way while not knowing that we have outside counsel guidelines in place’ that may stipulate other obligations that the attorneys were not aware of.”
  • “Seeing the problems associated with collecting and understanding client commitments, Agin said the firm recently implemented the risk and compliance platform Terms from the software company Intapp. By using technology, Shearman & Sterling hopes to create a workflow for managing outside client guidelines.”
  • “Shearman & Sterling will also use the tool to track updated versions of guidelines, access data on agreements and integrate with other systems such as billing and conflicts. Agin added that the firm will leverage machine learning to review the exact clauses in guidelines. He said that it would be impossible to manage these guidelines without the use of technology.”
  • “Scott Springer, a vice president at HBR Consulting, said that the rise of e-billing and specific outside counsel requirements for areas such as diversity, equity and inclusion are making it more difficult to manage these relationships. He added that even though most law firms have a formal process to review and summarize OCGs, many lack the tools to automate the process.”

Stinson’s Murdock: Tech use, cybersecurity permeate firms’ work (and budgets)” —

  • “For an easy gauge of how vital technology has become for law firms, simply look at their spending.”
    “‘The budget for technology certainly has increased over the years to where it’s now one of the top costs that a law firm sees,’ said Allison Murdock, managing partner of Kansas City-based Stinson LLP.”
  • “Clients drive some of that expense. Their outside counsel guidelines, engagement letters and requests for proposals set out requirements regarding privacy and security for the technology Stinson uses, Murdock said.”
  • “‘So there are a lot of requirements we follow, whether it’s related to the secure transfer and storage of information and only giving privileges to those people who it is necessary to complete the task,’ she said. ‘Those types of requirements from clients really drive our technology budget, as well as having all the resources necessary to efficiently handle matters for our clients, whether that’s matter management, document review, due diligence capabilities or whatever.'”
  • “Now that its prevalence shows no signs of diminishing, technology spending is shifting a bit more toward ensuring security and privacy. Law firms must navigate myriad cyber threats, with the danger elevated considering they typically control a lot of sensitive client information.”
  • “‘We’ve established a fortified risk assurance program that focuses on mitigation of risk to the business and their clients,’ Murdock said. ‘That includes incident response plans, training to address real-world scenarios and to teach people to identify cyber threats, know who to notify and how to document an incident. We do a lot of cyber awareness training, including random tests such as phishing emails to people in the firm to ensure they’re identifying the threat correctly and reporting it. So in addition to embracing the use of technology, we’re really training and educating people to ensure we’re meeting our firm’s standards and our clients’ standards for risk that come with using so much technology.'”

Finally, looks like ILTA’s tech survey is out. For those like me, who aren’t members of participating law firms (and have to pony up for a copy, alas), this writeup from the Orange Rag included a stat on law firm cloud conflicts adoption that caught my eye:

(This update also highlights the value in participating in these types of industry surveys in order to get the full report…)