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The Bloomberg Forum discussed technology changing law firms and general counsel including artificial intelligence, machine learning and e-discovery.

I recently attended Bloomberg Law’s In-House Forum West in San Francisco. This event brought legal industry leaders together to discuss key challenges facing corporate counsel today. Panel discussions included the role of general counsel in company culture, building a litigation team, fostering relationships with internal leadership, preventing cybersecurity threats, safeguarding intellectual property and others.

The panel about innovations in the legal industry featured moderator Gillian Thackray, Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Chief IP Counsel, The Clorox Company and panelists Conor French, General Counsel, U.S., Funding Circle; Mary Jummati, Director of Legal Business Solutions, UnitedLex; and Sheryl Savage, General Counsel, NEXTracker Inc. The discussions regarding how technology is changing the legal industry are very similar to what is happening in the accounting profession through the use of artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning, data analytics, in-house e-discovery and more. The panel discussed how this technology can be an equalizer for small law firms to compete with large law firms. E-discovery technology is a good example of this. Instead of a large team of people spending many hours going through files, e-discovery can drastically decrease the amount of resources and time needed to complete the task.  Automation and machine learning are other key areas that will change the way law firms practice. The more that processes and tasks can be automated, the more time lawyers will have to focus on analysis and other value-add tasks.  The panel also discussed how people processing technology can drive efficiency. In order to do this, law firms, like all organizations, should focus on the opportunities that stem from training their professionals on the practical application of technology. Furthermore, firms could benefit from making their technology groups more of a mix of lawyers and IT professionals.

Stephen Valentine is a Senior Tax Manager with 10 years of public accounting experience. He serves high net worth individuals and closely held entities across a wide range of industries including tax compliance, planning and research.

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