Panel discussion features finalists from the Canadian Law Awards' Best Use of Technology in a Law Firm category
An esteemed group of finalists from the Canadian Law Awards' "Best Use of Technology in a Law Firm Award" explore the rapidly changing role of technology in the legal space, including how to navigate potential challenges and new opportunities for future innovation. Moderated by Collin Smith, Director of Marketing at LexisNexis Canada Inc., the panel includes Al Hounsell, Solutions Development Team Manager at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Cynthia Mason, Founder and Managing Lawyer at Mason PC, Charles Gluckstein, President of Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers and Susan Wortzman, Partner at MT>3, a Division of McCarthy Tetrault.
The panel examine how they used technology pre-COVID, how the role of technology changed post-COVID, and how much COVID was a catalyst in driving that change. Panelists also examine the role technology has in a back-to-office setting and how the impact of technology varies based on their area of practice. They also look at where their interest in technology stems, whether it was an interest in technology itself or more in how it serves them. Finally, panelists examine challenges or roadblocks they face today, how they think technology could solve these problems, and where they see technology in the legal industry evolving in the next decades.
Collin: [00:00:35] Welcome to the Canadian Lawyers Roundtable. We're very happy you could join us. I'm Collin Smith. I'm the director of marketing for LexisNexis. And we have a very distinguished panel today. We'll be talking about the best use of technology in a law firm. Very insightful topic. But before we go into this, let's hear from our subject matter experts and we have a panel of experts that we will introduce. So let's start with Al please let's introduce yourself.
Al: [00:01:04] Hi. My name is Al Hounsell. I'm a senior innovation lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright, Canada, and I co-lead the innovation function at the firm.
Collin: [00:01:13] Excellent. Thanks. And let's move on to Cynthia.
Cynthia: [00:01:17] Hi. My name is Cynthia Mason. I am a lawyer and trademark agent. I'm the founding lawyer of Mason PC. We focus on helping businesses protect their brands. We do that direct with legal services. We also have created an online trademark application platform under the name remarkably excellent.
Collin: [00:01:39] Thank you, Cynthia. And we move on to Charles, please.
Charles: [00:01:43] Well, thanks, Collin, for having me on this panel. My name is Charles Gluckstein, and I'm the managing partner of Gluckstein Lawyers. We are a 60 person law firm, a boutique specialist specializing in civil litigation dealing with personal injury. And I bring a lot of technology innovations to to our firm that I'll talk about and bring you sort of the perspective from the the boutique practice.
Collin: [00:02:08] Excellent. Exciting to hear. And let's finish with Susan, please.
Susan: [00:02:12] Hi, Collin. I'm Susan Wortzman. I am a partner at McCarthy Tétrault and I'm also the lead of a MT>3, which is a division of McCarthy Tétrault. MT>3 focuses on e-discovery data governance, but I oversee a team of lawyers, project managers and technologists, developers, engineers, and we build client solutions for the firm as well. We also support the firm's clients on cybersecurity data breaches, privacy solutions. So really many things related to technology.
Collin: [00:02:50] Let's move right into the questions so you can tell this panel is very quick to answer where I'm taking this conversation, which is around the use of technology, as we said. So let's break the first question into two parts pre COVID and post COVID and I'll kick off with the first one is maybe, Charles, you can give us your perspective. How did you use technology and what was your use of technology in law pre COVID?
Charles: [00:03:16] Thanks, Collin. So as I mentioned, we're a personal injury law firm specializing in civil litigation and handling medical malpractice, personal injury matters. And I've always it's a multigenerational firm. So my father's the founding partner and he gave me free reins when I came in and I brought in a lot of innovations that I was interested in. We became paperless by 2000. We we brought in I was very involved with the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, and I was quick to get involved with some of the the tech startups that were doing office management and CRMs for your client retention. And I would talk about those technologies at conferences and then adopt them. And oftentimes I was the guinea pig to try out these technologies in my office, which my staff were not very thrilled about. From the client's perspective, I always thought that the client should have 24 access to their files and be able to sort of get in touch with some sort of operational side of the case to get key documents and see where their case is on the litigation timeline. So I developed my own client portal, which allowed clients to log in through bank security type of settings, and you could drag and drop documents into their folder and you could show them on the timeline where it was. So they could always sort of get information because client communication was always is always the biggest issue in litigation cases. And so that was one solution we brought in over time. We developed on top of the paperless office, we moved to SAS space programs, subscription as a service and cloud based programs. So it sort of started the trend of working remotely. We then had about four or five staff members that that basically worked out of regional areas that they didn't want to commute anymore and they were senior enough that we trusted them to work remotely. This is all pre COVID. And so we started using these services, allowed them to work in a hybrid environment. We actually brought in Zoom as a technology in January of 2020. So just months before the pandemic, we were using it as a voiceover Internet program. We still use it and and the staff were really sort of reluctant to embrace it. We move then to post COVID, if I can, and how things changed. So staff were quite happy that I was so tech forward because we adapted quite quickly. We were already ready. Everything was remote, ready because everything was in the cloud or SAS based and you could always log in from home whether you're on a mac or a PC and now your phone number follows you. So they were quite thrilled with that. In my area of practice and personal injury, a lot of the law firms were not ready. A lot of the small boutique practices did not invest in technology, did not have paperless offices, and they weren't able to adapt. So that created quite an opportunity for our office in being sort of a tech leader and innovating with them and sort of helping them partner with us to innovate. So in fact, our firm grew from 30 people before COVID to 60 people as we sit now, and they're basically for strategic partnerships that happened over that time where these leaders in their areas just couldn't deal with the technology challenges. And they just figured, you know, you're well known in this area of knowing how to manage offices and do these things. We'll just join you. So that became a huge benefit for us.
Collin: [00:06:53] Oh, that's pretty good. And you've been using Zoom for that long. I hope you bought stock in Zoom.
Charles: [00:06:58] Which fortunately I didn't, but I heard the stock is having trouble.
Collin: [00:07:04] Thanks a lot, Charles. Does anyone else want to jump in? How did COVID impact pre and was it a catalyst moving forward?
Susan: [00:07:11] I would just add to Charles's comments is that there were a few lawyers like Charles who use technology extensively. And then there's my team that used a lot of technology, but there were a lot of lawyers who didn't, and those they had to all come to the table. So that's that's been a huge change really all around because embracing technology, it's changed the practice. It also forced the courts to move forward. Hearings were done, conducted remotely. Trials are conducted remotely. So there's this huge change. And for those that really weren't on board on the technology piece, they had to jump on board really quickly. So we felt like we propelled about ten years ahead in in six months, frankly. So that's been a major change for the profession.
Collin: [00:08:00] Wow. Excellent. And I feel that maybe there's a similar vein to each one of you. But let's move to question number two is what role do you see technology having in a back to office setting? So now that we're all back to office, Al or Cynthia, anyone want to jump into this one?
Al: [00:08:21] Sure. Happy to. To jump in. I think the biggest thing that we found throughout the COVID phase where we're all working remotely is it really showed us what technology can do. Where we were using in-person meetings a lot for things that we've realized, you know what, we don't necessarily need to be in-person for 100% of these functions. And so I found it interesting because as someone who's leading a lot of different types of teams, on one hand we've got a team of developers. On the other hand, we've got contract review projects and reviewers. We've got data breach response projects that are happening. And then our client solution teams where we want to sit down with clients and try to innovate with them. We found that different teams kind of have responded differently to the digital reality of doing everything over Zoom and teams. And so the way I like to see it is that if you look at different pipelines of communication like an email chain, you can get a little bit of communication through. And it's good in some some settings. You look at a phone call, now you've got vocal intonation that's kind of getting through a video stream. You've now got facial expressions that are coming through and in person is this massive pipeline of data that's coming through in an in-person meeting. And we've realized we've really missed that in a couple of contexts. The first is with client collaboration. It is fantastic to be able to get everybody in the room in order to collaborate on new solutions. The other one is team building in order to really build those friendships and relationships within our team. And the third one is in internal innovation. We want we always want to be at the forefront of what's happening in innovation. And it is super hard. We've found any way to really blue sky and dream and innovate in terms of where we want to go. And so we've decided to be very strategic in the way we're using back to office, take the best of the digital communications and keep that moving forward where it's really well suited. But for these specific use cases, we want to bring people into the office for that specific purpose, in order to use that bigger pipeline of communication, in order to be able to do those kinds of things.
Collin: [00:10:40] Very good. Excellent. Excellent. Cynthia, any additional thoughts on that, please?
Cynthia: [00:10:46] Yeah, I would add. Our firm has always been remote. We're a small team. We're in Ontario, but throughout Ontario. And now after the pandemic, or as we're coming out of it and firms are looking to bring their their lawyers back in office, it has enabled us to grow our team and to continue to continue to add people who want to stay remote and to continue to work in those circumstances. And it really has just expanded the pool of lawyers who are looking for opportunities to practice in a niche area like ours and to do it under their own under their own terms.
Collin: [00:11:27] Well, again.
Charles: [00:11:27] I would just add another comment. I mean, I listened to what Al was saying, and I agree there's a lot missing when you're not in person, but there is a lot of data out there that the staff do not want the commute, especially to a Toronto office. And so we're still figuring it out. We don't have a big enough office anymore to support the 60 people that we've grown to be. So we have to be a hybrid model and we're sort of working through a team approach where we we specialize in four practice areas. So if the sexual abuse practice area is meeting, that's like Tuesday and Wednesday, medical malpractices, another day, class actions, another day. We're sort of playing around with that to see how that works and using offsite areas as well. I agree with what Al has to say, but I think that's more on the with the lawyers meeting and the team approach with the law clerks. But a lot of the support staff not that wouldn't necessarily be at those meetings, still prefer to stay at their homes, etc., come in maybe once a month for collaborative meetings. So we'll have to see what what it says as time goes on. And I think millennials are definitely pushing for more flexibility with their work schedules now that that's become part of the norm.
Collin: [00:12:47] Some interesting thing because you're compartmentalizing it in groups. So the challenges are not just broad scale, as you're saying, but even for us at Lexis, we do a hybrid as well. So we try to compartmentalize maybe marketing and sales being in office the same day. So it feels like it's the trend now going into hybrid. Very good. Thanks a lot, team. So let's look at the next question. Does the impact of technology vary based on your area of practice? This is always been an interesting question. We always curious, does it matter your area of practice on the technology?
Susan: [00:13:21] Sure. I mean, of course it does, because I mean, there's some baseline technologies that a firm, even a full service firm is going to decide. They're going to use they're going to use teams or they're going to whether they're going to use teams or Zoom. There's those sort of across the board types of technologies. But how it actually impacts your practice and your service delivery to clients, I think varies hugely, but important to all different areas of practice. So listening to Charles speak about the impact on personal injury and how he's able to use technology to communicate better with his clients and how Cynthia uses it in her practice. I started off really with my own firm supporting litigation, so I was doing e-discovery, and technology was tremendously important because the cost of e-discovery was getting to be so high because of the volume of data. So law firms and vendors started offering technology tools and services and processes to make that faster, more efficient, cheaper, more effective. So there's all kinds of e-discovery products out there to really solve that problem of how to make the cost of it manageable. And over the last ten, 15 years, those tools and technologies started to incorporate AI and machine learning. And so really litigation was at the forefront of a lot of the use of of technology and it impacted tremendously on large commercial matters that had a lot of data, class actions, so many cases. Then when I joined Fast Forward and I joined McCarthys and suddenly we're supporting now a business law group, real property group, labor and employment group, tax group, competition group. Then you start to see how this technology impacts all of those. So on the business law side, for example, the tools to help assist lawyers conduct due diligence in a transaction, also incorporating and using AI and machine learning the tools for our labor and employment group. We built a vaccine verification solution during COVID to respond to the needs of some of the clients of that group. Then thinking about real property groups, same thing. Like how do they do lease reviews? They're involved in a transaction. They've got to review hundreds of leases. How do we use leverage technology to make that more efficient, use that better? So you sort of I see it now touching across the board of many different practice areas. And even now as we're starting to see privacy legislation evolve and our clients are needing requiring need to be compliant with new privacy legislation, how do we bring on technology that's going to support that? So right now, I just I see it I don't know any area of the law right now where I can say the lawyers can still put their head in the sand and say, this really doesn't apply to my practice area. Because we used to I used to hear that a lot in the early e-discovery days, and a lot of lawyers would say. That's not me. That's not my cases. I don't work on the type of cases that have a lot of data. And I was like, Well, but, but they have to involve technology because people that's how people communicate, whether it's text or whether it's collaboration tools or whether it's email. You have to be able to look at that evidence, collect that evidence, and you're not going to need to use technology and tools to do that. So now I think it applies and impacts us all. And I I'm hard pressed to think of any lawyer that can say post COVID, that technology doesn't impact their practice.
Collin: [00:16:59] Thanks a lot.
Charles: [00:17:00] In fact, that Law Society has put some kind of competency requirement now in place. So they're talking about having some level of competency. And I would say, you know, there are some basic technologies in litigation cases. You obviously you need something for your back office accounting. You need something for your client manager, a CRM tool that allows you to keep track of limitation periods and documents and and and really to be to not have a paperless office manager system is is really going to be difficult to track over time. And I would suggest that that's a basic program that you need now. So I endorse a lot of what Susan said. I mean, you really do need to improve your competency in technology as a lawyer.
Collin: [00:17:48] And we can jump to the next question. But I thought about it, too, in terms of the impact of technology on your area of practice. I think one of you mentioned even the innovation technology brains where you can simulate like in criminal cases, you can simulate a crime scene and things like that. How do you guys see that impacting not just the use of technology but innovation going forward?
Susan: [00:18:10] I think our clients are demanding innovation in a lot of in a lot of areas and solutions. So our clients, for example, our commercial clients that have that manage hundreds of contracts in their business, they want to see a good contract management solution. And so that's that's innovative. Developing that type of a solution. So being able to have developers on my team and being able to have engineers and developers who can build those solutions and really meet with clients and hear what clients are looking for and what they want. I think that that's a big value add to that service.
Al: [00:18:52] Yes. Similarly, that same kind of story, there's this massive interest in contract lifecycle management now and how we can go in and help build those solutions. I think furthermore, there's so many places that innovation is going to go based on these advances in technology that it's super important to start thinking about, like, where is the puck going to be and what are going to be the request and demands of clients when we get to that point, like the advances of AI. I think in a lot of ways was hyped up so much that we're now still kind of in that that backlash to that initial hype. But the reality is it is going to get to places where things that require manual work right now just are not going to require that manual work like low, low level cognitive reviews of things are things that AI is going to deal with. And so, you know, it's about thinking about where that is going to be. And then how can we kind of build out those capacities in order to meet what what client needs will be? I think that's really how we're trying to think through what innovation is going to be affected by with these advances with with tech.
Charles: [00:20:07] And one of the bigger barriers on litigation, on the litigation side is, of course, the courts. And although they've advanced probably ten years, like many of you have suggested, with the use of hybrid and virtual hearings, they still are terrible with respect to scheduling. And we need an AI in assistant to help plugging in dates and perhaps moving cases along because clients want to know, especially in litigation cases, how much is the case worth and when am I going to when is it going to finish? And that's the question of when it's going to finish is always up in the air. In fact, now we're looking at two year delays because of COVID. And although we have technology to get them a lot of the materials in and get the experts move the cases more efficiently, we still can't get that trial date and can't get that finality without a big leap on the court system. They have to do even more advances. And I don't know if A.I. is going to be a solution for them. I mean, they've tried it in in Estonia with with with positive results. I agree with all that. We're using AI to sort of summarize medical records. We're using it to obtain medical records. We're using it to summarize legal research to a point where we can put factors together a lot faster. There are lots of outsourced AI companies already selling that technology, which gets us to handle more complex matters more efficiently. But we still can't move the cases through the courts because the courts is the road. That's the the roadblock we face.
Collin: [00:21:39] Very good. Interesting perspective. And some I never even thought of. But it does have a broad appeal based on what we're seeing. So let's move over maybe to Cynthia. Does technology itself interest you or is it more how it serves you? So we talk about machine learning. Are your clients more interested in the technology itself? Or, as we say, we don't care what's under the hood. We just want to know how it serves our clients.
Cynthia: [00:22:07] For US technology and adopting it and creating innovating in this field has always been about efficiencies, creating efficiencies for our clients, doing more with fewer people and faster to achieve a very consistent result. And you know, from a business perspective, it's a benefit. And for our client, from our clients perspectives, it's also a benefit because you can offer legal services at a lower cost. It makes some of what we do more accessible for more people in the trademark field. One of the things that we have consistently seen over and over again is that new small business owners, they don't protect their names, their logos and their taglines. They don't do it because it's it's perceived as expensive, it's intimidating. And so when you can create a system that makes it really easy and really affordable, and then you kind of present it in a way that shows the value of protecting these properties. It's a lot more appealing to a lot more people. And it's a positive result for for clients. It's a it's a positive result for us as well.
Collin: [00:23:18] That's good. Anyone else has a perspective on that? I mean, does it really love the technology itself or the science of it, or is it basically how it serves you?
Susan: [00:23:27] I think that when you first asked it, it was do do do we does the technology interest us or is it how it serves us? For me, it's how it serves me. That's a confession I have to make. Like I'm I'm less the in there techie person and I'm always the one who's thinking about what's our next move and how are we going to use leverage technology to support our clients better? And what new fun tool can we develop and devise and innovate? And I mean, I'm lucky because I am at a larger firm. So I've got a team now of the analysts, developers, engineers that are actually the ones who love the technology. And they're they're in there and they're behind the hood. They know what's under the hood, but they can explain it to me in a way that I understand it, so that I can explain it to my clients in a way that my clients can understand it. And I think that's important as well in some cases, because you've got to be able to explain to your client, Well, I'm using we're developing this tool and we're going to use machine learning and this is what the results are going to be, but this is how we're going to validate the results, and this is why it's going to be defensible and how we would be able to defend that in front of a tribunal or in front of a in front of a court or the use of technology. So I think, like, for me, it's very much trying to always think ahead to how am I going to be able to use technology. So just one example right now is we're working on a project and we've got hundreds of thousands of records that we need to get through. And what the key thing, of course, is to identify what's privileged so that we can withhold it from production. And what we've done in that case is built a privilege model using using AI. But we've actually taken a set of privileged records, a set of not privileged records and built them and built a model and then started our case with that model so that it will predict which records are likely to be privileged and which aren't. So we still need lawyers and we still have to look at the records and we still have to validate that the model works. But if the model as as we can, as we validate it and see how this model is working, we now have a tool to help us identify privileged records so that we don't have to have as much. We still have to have eyes on some of it, but there's a lot that we won't have to have eyes on on anymore because we know that they're privileged. So those kinds of things are save a huge amount of money for clients when they're in a large project and they're suddenly they send over a drive with four terabytes of data and millions of records. And it's like, you've got to find what find the responsive, relevant records in there, and you have to figure out what's privileged and not produce that. Those are the kinds of things where I'm thinking, how how's technology going to serve us in this case and serve our clients? What can we do to get to that next, next level forward?
Collin: [00:26:22] Thank you and thanks for those specific examples as well, because sometimes we talk in such broad terms, but the practical application, I think, makes sense exactly what you're saying. And anyone else want to jump in on this?
Charles: [00:26:34] I think also in the litigation context, I see tons of opportunity with technology. I mean, I, you know, just going paperless was was a big step forward to sign up a client digitally with the retainer, signing all that. Meeting them through virtual ways and then getting their case delegated through tasks in a CRM program and having all that happen without really any paper moving around or any, I can see that enhanced with AI. So the labor that's involved in obtaining the records or starting the claim, proceeding to serve the claim and then hire the expert and sending the records to the expert, all the things that happen in the stage of the case could be really done quite easily through AI. And a lot of it is is repetition with precedent. Of course, you have to put some quality control in there, but a lot of this can be enhanced and sped up. And there's no reason why you couldn't be on the doorstep of a trial in six months after your incident arises. And instead we're looking at three, 3 to 5 years. So I'm always thinking of how do we shrink that piece down? And I think technology is a big part of that answer.
Susan: [00:27:56] Just to follow up on that, Charles, like exactly that point during COVID, we had a matter where we had a number of of clients that we had to onboard. So it was multiple plaintiffs and our team built a solution. So it started with they'd submit their name, we do a conflict search and then a retainer would go out to them and DocuSign. And as soon as they and then once they signed the retainer, they would get a link to a questionnaire and they would fill out the questionnaire and they would answer all the questions about their claim of the the KYC questions, but also about their claim, their damages, their losses. And as soon as they hit the button, submit on the form, they would get a link where they could upload their documents. And we had a phone line that people could help them if they had trouble, but they uploaded their documents. And then we actually had the retainers, the questionnaires and the and the documents all in one database. So we could then and then then we started to apply the technology because then we could look at it and we could analyze the damages, we could analyze the claims, we could we could see who all the parties were because we created dashboards of what the lawyers were interested in learning about. So that's partly bringing in machine learning, but it's actually bringing in a lot of process to move it forward.
Al: [00:29:12] I would totally agree with that. I think to this question, like, are we interested more in the tech or how it actually serves us? I come from a bit of a different background as a tech entrepreneur before going into law, and so I myself am super interested in the actual technology. But what I found is that, you know, when it comes to showing the tech, everybody's interested. It's sort of what I would call innovation theater. It's, oh, look at this, look at this. And everybody's all excited. But when it comes to actually implementing something for somebody to use, then it quickly becomes the question, how does this actually serve me? So we we've built a loan automation portal, for example, for a client that helps them to generate a big package of loans that manages the workflow. And sort of at the start of this project, it's all exciting about what could this look like? And we're prototyping and everybody's excited about the innovation. When it becomes live and people are using it, then there's very specific questions How is this going to fit with my workflow? Is it going to help this person? What about this esoteric use case? And and it becomes much more pointed questions about how it actually serves us. And so I think depending on the practice area, there's more or less room for innovation theater, like on a data breach response project, there's zero room. How can you get me what I need to know? How can we notify affected parties and how can we do it as quick as possible? And so it's an interesting dynamic that that I've discovered in in sort of this legal field.
Collin: [00:30:47] Is there. Excellent responses. And some things, as I say, add to the conversation is they really want to know why should I care or does it fit me is what I'm gathering, as opposed to just the shiny object of what the technology is, which is excellent? Let's move to the next question. What challenges are roadblocks that you face today that you think technology would solve and maybe 10 to 20 years? And I know that's a long stretch, but just to think it through, what do you face now that you think technology may be able to be your silver bullet?
Charles: [00:31:22] I just leaning off from what Al said about being the tech person and then going into law. I'm the law person that wants to be in tech. So kind of coming back full circle. But, you know, I'm a huge science fiction fan and I love the A.I. and my Tesla model three that self drives and AI. And I'm always looking forward to these innovations. I don't think of it as a pessimistic view, but there are things to be afraid of as we hear about AI and all the fears of what it's going to do and replace us all there there is sort of how far do we want to push these solutions, because the end could be some kind of subscription service that Amazon offers that basically makes the law commoditized and we don't have jobs anymore. So these are there's existential questions as well. But if we break it down, the first problem I think we have is with these virtual meetings and we've identified a few of them that there there needs to be a technology to take all that data that Al was talking about that you get from an in-person meeting. And I don't know if that's a metaverse. I don't know if that's the way you're going to bridge that gap. We're all going to put on headsets from home and we'll be in court meeting or will be and wherever we have to be to have that in-person three dimensional kind of contact and whether that experience improves. But that's that the virtual meeting has its limitations because there's no collegiality. You're just there for the meeting. You're not there for the the watercooler talk or going down the hall and seeing who's in their office. And you don't get that team feeling the same way because you're all in your own cameras. So I think that that's one of the issues. I think from the client, there's still huge financial barriers in most areas of the law. In personal injury, it's all contingency fees. So they don't have those issues with us. But I can see that there'll be kind of attacks on our billing systems in the future. I know in Europe they have before the event insurance which covers you, you may buy it with your homeowner's insurance policy and then no matter what your legal needs are, it'll be covered by this $100 a month subscription and they'll get you your wills drafted, etc.. I don't know how it works in Europe. I don't know if that's been a positive thing and if it's widely adopted. I know there was an attempt to do it with personal injury. There was a publicly traded law firm that was trying to engulf most of the firms. And and the Law Society said nobody can invest in law firms other than lawyers. So that put a stop to it in Ontario. So there's those kinds of innovations that are coming. I think the roadblock, as I mentioned before, is the innovations with the courts. How far are they willing to go to be tech savvy, to allow us to access the courts a lot easier instead of waiting for, you know, judges to be appointed and more courtrooms to open up? Are there more innovative ways we can get disputes resolved? Should lawyers be involved at A to help the court out to move the backlog? There's been discussions about that. Do we want to experiment with what Estonia did with AI courtrooms, if we can prove it's unbiased and it works well? So those are some of the some of the issues I see in the next 10 to 20 years. I guess if we zoom in, I think I will obviously be more and more of a useful tool to getting us through the data in the meantime.
Collin: [00:34:58] Good. It's always good to look ahead. Any other thoughts, Cynthia or Susan?
Susan: [00:35:02] I think one of the challenges that we're facing now are all the new tools and the collaboration tools and trying to collect that data. So, I mean, we're just we're just swimming in information right now. And so how are we going to manage all that information? And being able as lawyers, we have to be in a position to help advise our clients on how best to manage their information, how long, how long do they need to retain things? What's the risk associated with retaining information? How long do how how should they what tool should they allow their employees to use all of those all of those things? And I think I think it's volume of information because we are creating so much information every every second that. At some point in time, we're going to have to deal with all of it. And I think a lot of people think on me, well, we've got 100,000 boxes over at Iron Mountain and that's a problem. But nobody really cares about that anymore. But now you've got terabytes of data that you've collected and there's a lot of risk associated with that. So I think that that's a real challenge going forward and getting our clients up to speed on how to manage that in better.
Collin: [00:36:12] Those are great points. I mean, I've heard in the past that in the future data will be even more valuable than gold in terms of how we mined it. So it's an interesting one. Let's go to our last question. And this is a nice segway from the question we're at. This is, is there any challenges you think technology can solve? And it brings into mind the whole ethical thing around technology is more driven by predictive if then type thinking as opposed to a law, you have to make judgments and there's ethical matters. What's your thoughts on that?
Al: [00:36:46] I think it's an interesting question. If you look at other industries of how technology has changed, the industries you look at in banking banks are basically tech companies. Now you look at consulting, they're very much moving in that direction. And then legal is kind of behind everyone. And so there's on one hand, this big push for technology to eat up everything. On the other hand, legal, unlike these other industries, have have these ethical components to it. There's this this thinking about legal reasoning. And, you know, is this really amenable to technology, especially as as AI develops more? And I think this question is going to become much more relevant as the years go by. And we'll see exactly how much technology is even able to eat up the legal industry because of its unique properties in that regard.
Collin: [00:37:39] Good point. Any other thoughts on that?
Cynthia: [00:37:42] I would add, I mean, from having a legal practice that works a lot with individuals, it's very part of what we do requires listening and having empathy and really being the voice of our clients as they go through some somewhat of an intimidating process. And I think there's going to be a real challenge with being able to replace that function of being a lawyer with technology. The end of the day, when you when you're in a field that you are working for individuals and they they are looking for your expertise, but they're also looking for that element of empathy that that lets them know that you understand where they're coming from and that you're going to work on their behalf in order to get them to a better place.
Collin: [00:38:29] Good. Let's hear some more on that. Some interesting topic about rational decision making versus the role of ethics and judgment in a lot.
Susan: [00:38:38] Yeah. I also wonder if technology as it advances in the net over time, I don't see it being being as creative as we can be as individuals. So it's that it's that thinking, it's that thought process. Like, I don't think machines and A.I. and technology are ever going to replace lawyers because we need that. And I thought Cynthia's point was great about we need the empathy from our lawyers and the support from our lawyers, but we also need their their ability to think creatively. And I just don't know that I can't really see a computer getting to that point in that stage.
Charles: [00:39:17] I can see sort of two streams, right? There will be the commoditized legal market where there will be some sort of process in place where you can do things very cheaply. But there will be quality representation for those people that are willing to step out of that subscription model. And they'll always be a role for us for that reason. For those reasons you've all stated.
Collin: [00:39:38] Excellent. Like a two tier or three tier type commodity. Thank you.
Al: [00:39:44] Yeah, I think I totally agree with that. That's really the distinction that's going to become much clearer as I advances more is is what is the stuff that can be fully automated? What is the stuff that is never going to be automated? And, you know, law firms really we want to be at the forefront of figuring out what that distinction is in order to be able to offer the automatable stuff as cheaply as possible and as user in a user friendly fashion to our clients as quickly as we can.
Collin: [00:40:16] Very good. I'm sure we could spend an hour on this topic alone just because of the polarization that it would deliver in terms of how it works. But I really enjoyed this discussion. I mean, we've really looked at technology in a broad context, and I've seen practical applications of how we use it. So I really want to thank everyone on the panel. And of course, the discussion for me would continue because this is just to stimulate the thought, but I'm sure we'll be having similar discussions going forward. So I really want to thank Al, want to thank Cynthia, Charles and Susan, really good discussion and thanks for your time. And we also want to thank Canadian lawyer for putting this all together. Of course, the Canadian lawyer roundtable is one that we were facilitating. So thanks for putting this all together. And of course, we'll be talking soon.
Charles: [00:41:05] Thanks for having me.
Cynthia: [00:41:07] Thanks.
Susan: [00:41:07] Thanks for having us.