Understanding the Assignment: Technology Alignment with Legal Strategy

Written by Brian Stempel

“Generative AI is no different than other new disruptive legal technology innovations over the years, (OCR, Threading, TAR). The buyers at law firms don’t want to buy technology. They want to sell their legal services. So, it’s not up to them to care about, nor sell our technology. It is our job to show them how our technology, innovations, better workflows and services will help them differentiate in the market and sell their legal services.” 

– Bret Libigs quoting Brian Stempel  

 

Often when I’m speaking or presenting, my mind is so focused on the details of the presentation that it’s hard to know how my message is being received.  It was wonderful to hear from Bret Libigs, Director of Enterprise Sales at Relativity, how much my words resonated during a partner panel presentation at Relativity. If I’m honest, I didn’t think my words were particularly inspiring or insightful.  

Having worked in law firms for 27 years, my focus has always been on legal strategy and legal deliverables. While technology is an increasingly important element in legal practices, the final deliverable is never technological.  The alignment of technology, and the services surrounding it, to the ultimate legal goal or strategy is paramount to a successful growing practice.  A singular focus on legal outcomes is the only way for software creators and service providers to grow and evolve their value in the industry.    

Misaligned technology can significantly increase the risk of costly inefficiencies, missing key insights, and potentially compromising the integrity of legal proceedings. Conversely, a strategic collaboration between legal teams and technology solutions and service can profoundly influence the outcome of litigation or an investigation. This alignment ensures that legal professionals have the tools they need to navigate the complexities of modern data and develop a defensible plan that supports their legal goals.

The importance of this strategic legal-tech alliance is underscored by the advancements within the eDiscovery industry, particularly concerning the challenges inherent in managing today’s electronically stored information (ESI). The continual evolution of data types, from traditional documents to more complex data sources like chat logs and encrypted files, necessitates new or modified solutions to collect, process, review, and present evidence and facts effectively. 

Creating Alignment and Success 

So, how do legal software creators and service providers ensure their solutions are in harmony with their clients’ legal strategies and goals? Communication is key — a deep, nuanced understanding of the client’s strategic goals is essential. In addition, bringing consultative subject matter expertise to the discussion is critical. When Legal teams make their legal goals clear, these goals must be translated into technological requirements or service initiatives in line with the legal strategy.  

For example, in a litigation or investigation, attorneys will be rightly focused on the legal requirements of responding to the pleading, subpoena or regulator inquiry.  Technology-savvy attorneys will be aware of their legal and ethical obligations to understand enough about technology to properly represent their client.  However, discovery data volumes and types have changed so fast (e.g. chat & collaboration data, images, enterprise database systems), attorneys need a consultative advocate — a legal technology champion — to align their data discovery plan to their legal strategy needs.  

Advancements in conventional keyword search, continued evolution of machine learning modeling, and more cutting edge GenAI & LLM tools require radical alignment of all parties involved in a legal representation.  This comes with the obligation to be flexible and consultative as well and the requirement to stand behind the technology and services as legally defensible and financially cost-effective.  

Too often, software creators and service providers fall in love with their solutions and bring a one-size fits-all philosophy to legal problems. It is far too easy to talk about the latest bells-and-whistles, or worse, stagnated by technology solutions that serve profitability models more than innovation and legal outcomes. True technology and solution alignment comes through the continuous feedback loop of zealous advocacy to clients and the detailed service and support it requires.  

Regular touchpoints and adjustments to solutions toward legal strategy must be an ongoing case team priority to ensure that technology solutions remain aligned with strategic objectives. In addition, post-mortems detailing lessons learned and what knowledge can be retained or re-used for future engagements creates trust, speeds to future engagements, and generates more granular and substantive feedback loops. (for more about retaining and reusing discovery data, read Equipping eDiscovery for Data Disruption). 

A Harmonized Path Forward 

In the high stakes world of litigation and government investigations, constructive collaboration between legal strategies and technology solutions is crucial. Misalignment is a peril that legal service providers and their clients cannot afford to overlook. Through diligent communication, solution providers will be able to best align the appropriate resources to legal teams and their desired outcomes. Through this alignment there is enlightenment. 

 

 

About the Author

Brian Stempel is a law practice technology executive and thought leader with over 30 years of experience in delivering innovative solutions and services to the legal industry. He is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Client Solutions at Lineal where he helps clients solve legal challenges with Lineal’s award-winning Amplify platform. Before Lineal, Brian ran eDiscovery operations at Kirkland & Ellis, Paul Hastings, and Debevoise & Plimpton. A life-long learner he also holds executive education certificates from Cornell University, MIT Sloan School of Management, Columbia Business School, and Harvard Business School in various fields related to artificial intelligence, innovation, DEI, and leadership. 

About Lineal  

Lineal is an innovative eDiscovery and legal technology solutions company that empowers law firms and corporations with modern data management and review strategies. Established in 2009, Lineal specializes in comprehensive eDiscovery services, leveraging its proprietary technology suite, Amplify, to enhance efficiency and accuracy in handling large volumes of electronic data. With a global presence and a team of experienced professionals, Lineal is dedicated to delivering custom-tailored solutions that drive optimal legal outcomes for its clients. For more information, visit lineal.com