I just got back from Legal Tech West Coast where I attended the Keynote by Casey Flaherty, Counsel for Kia Motors. Mr. Flaherty was a fantastic speaker that got his points across clearly and kept the standing-room-only crowd engaged. Aside from the fact that he was entertaining, the premise of his presentation addressed the importance of understanding and using technology to its fullest capacity and continually training ourselves to ensure it is being used effectively and efficiently.
I laughed when Flaherty talked about how his wife claims their two year old is a genius because he knows how to use their family iPad and play YouTube videos. He joked that his son isn’t necessarily a genius, Apple is a genius for making a product that is so simple to use that even a two year old can do it! Good user experience is a key goal for any modern technology company, and many strides have been made in the last decade. Even so, he believes that “technological incompetence is endemic to the legal profession; and the quantity of resources wasted on busy work is shameful.”
Mr. Flaherty is a huge advocate for investing the time to create better training programs for outside counsel and to hold them accountable for the appropriate use of technology. He has developed an audit program that measures the technological proficiency of outside counsel. Not only does Flaherty use the auditing program to decide who comes out on top but it is also being used to set rates and performance goals. Kia deducts 5% off every bill until outside counsel passes the audit. So what is his test? Any firm bidding for Kia’s business provides a top Associate for a live test of their skills in basic tools like MS Word, Excel, etc., for common tasks. Perhaps not surprisingly, all nine of the firms he tested failed.
Flaherty noted that his audit highlights the fact that, like most people, firms are using a very small percentage of available tools because no one is taking the time to learn how to use them properly. This point was driven home when he discussed PDFs as part of many Federal court filing requirements. To comply with requirements, most people don’t use a basic print-to-PDF function but instead print and then scan the document. This method takes far longer and therefore costs the corporation more money for a basic task. This really resonated with me because it is a point I make daily when discussing the benefits of Liquid Lit Manager’s™ BinderBuilder™ feature. Why take extra steps when you can do something in one click?
Flaherty’s point was clear: technology exists to make the legal industry more efficient and effective. He urged attendees to get on board, stating it was their responsibility to use the tools that are at their disposal and stop wasting money on outdated and inefficient methods.
Follow Cara Powers on Twitter at @legallycara