In our quest to share innovative ideas, here’s an org and an event that legaltech professionals definitely should consider. SKILLS Law – the org – is a 20-year-old *private* gathering of Knowledge Management and Innovation leaders. Here's how they describe themselves:
For years, knowledge management and innovation leaders of the largest global, US, UK, and Canadian law firms have gathered annually in a privately organized meeting to compare notes on current developments in KM, innovation and business of law, also known as the Strategic Knowledge & Innovation Legal Leaders’ Summit, or SKILLS.
This was my first time attending SKILLS – the event itself – and oh, was it good! Sessions are short and sweet, so extremely focused (6 min presentation + 3 min Q+A) with no time to get bored. Even if a topic is not your thing, you only need to wait a few minutes until the next one.
The participants are some of the largest, most innovative, and tech-forward law firms. Of the 12 topics presented by law firms (often with their vendors), seven focused on data, analytics, or AI. That's nearly 2/3 of them! Just a few years ago, you'd be lucky to find one presentation focusing on these topics (emphasis is mine):
State of the Market | Innovation Benchmarking
Zero to Sixty | Starting a Law Firm Data Team
Modern Data Architecture | Surfacing Data for Operations and Analytics
Turning Data into Insights | Solving Goodwin’s Growing Data Needs
Improve Your Performance | Give Your AI Tools a Makeover
Custom KM Platforms | Inside McKinsey's "Legal Playbook"
Training for Different Preferences | DLA Piper Customizes User Experience
Matter Metrics and GO! Team Data Literacy
AI in Practice Management | Machine Learning at Ballard Spahr
Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast | Lessons Learned at CMS
Getting to Grips | Data Integrations and APIs
Amplifying Your Brand | The Key to Adoption and Promotion
Among those presenting were Goodwin, DLA Piper, White & Case, Gunderson Dettmer, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Paul Hastings, Ballard Spahr, Frost Brown Todd, and Freeths. Select vendors were in attendance, many of whom presented together with their law firm clients. See the full agenda here.
Takeaways that we hope to socialize amongst our customers, partners, and friends:
Data standards are long overdue. If you’ve attended any legaltech conferences in the past year or so, odds are you have attended a session related to SALI. Not only is an industry-wide taxonomy within reach, but it can also make us all more effective in our work. Cloud Court is happily integrating the SALI tags into its products.
Large Language Models for Legal. Bespoke Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT 3 are popping up in the legal industry. In one of the break-out sessions I moderated, we discussed creating a common open source LLM for Legal trained on collective data in legal (like SALI but for LLMs).
Naming matters. The language we use impacts how people react to the thing we're trying to do. For example, calling a presentation a “workshop” instead of a “CLE” gets more people actively involved, instead of just passively listening. Using the word Demo instead of Training gets more attorneys attending the sessions. Clever use of pop culture references also helps (e.g., speed dating-style sessions worked great with attorneys).
Bonus: many parallel conversations in chat. During the entire day, people were offering additional comments and often content via chat. I collected a healthy dose of useful references:
To summarize, SKILLS is an organization that I recommend legaltech innovators stay involved with. Follow them on LinkedIn to stay in the loop.