The success of their responses to the almost overnight transition to remote work has brought IT teams a lot of added goodwill and capital within their firms, which gets at my second observed theme of Digital Acceleration. In ILTACON Wednesday’s keynote, Justin Hectus, Chief Information Officer, Keesal, Young & Logan, called it “the golden moment for digital transformation.”
It became obvious very quickly that firms and companies that had previously made moves to the cloud had a much easier time of things as COVID hit and their physical offices began closing. The experiences early on were vastly different, depending on the organization’s technology stack. As Dan said, "Companies in the cloud before COVID could pivot faster, better, and safer than their counterpoints." This gets at part of the increased legal innovation conversations that were in the keynote and have been common this week, but there has also been another shift within law firms.
In the last few years, innovation has become cool, if not a bit of a buzzword, in the legal industry. Forward-thinking firms have fully embraced innovation and Big Law has established entire Innovation teams with C-Suite leadership like the folks that spoke during the keynote. Technology initiatives used to have to pass the “Has a client requested that?” and “What are other firms doing?” tests first. Now, with two people in the C-Suite focused on innovation and technology and organizations seeing the value of technological innovation to provide competitive advantages and greater value to clients, these conversations are no longer the first ones.
As Matthew Coatney, Chief Information Officer of Thompson Hine LLP, said during the keynote, "Digital transformation has been a slow, steady drumbeat." We kept waiting for an event. We thought the financial downturn of 2008 was it, but that just caused firms to tighten their belts and lockdown spending on innovation and technology even tighter in the aftermath. The pandemic has ripped off the belt and snapped open all those locks on spending. As Matt further explained, the nice to have has now become the must-have. Michele Gossmeyer, Global Director, Information Governance, Risk & Compliance at Dentons, confirmed in chat, “COVID expedited our vision of 2030 to 2021.” Truer words were never spoken.