By Karen Lee

This is a fact – the practice of law is being revolutionised. Why? The reason is straightforward – information and communications technologies are now easily available and at very competitive prices. This in turn is reducing cost of services and enabling new prices, fee structures and service models. Law firms need to respond to the revolution and look for new solutions that will enable them to adapt quickly.

This week at the Online Legal Services Conference in Sydney, I presented on visualisation as a legal solution and explained how it is helping lawyers adapt and respond to change.

Put simply, visualisation is a way of communicating complex data and information by way of visually engaging images. When we talk about visualisation in law, we often think of visuals in legislation (using visualisation to explain or apply legislation), or using process diagrams or organisation charts to help draft legal documents such as contracts.

But what about visualising information used to prepare advice or make decisions? For example commercial information discovered through searches? You know, the laborious process of searching the ASIC, PPS and other registers, then trawling through piles of results, and interpreting the commercial information to draft an advice? There must be a better way….

Visualisation technology is the solution. In terms of commercial information management, 3 key things that a legal practice can use visualisation technology for are to:

1. Get lean, and stay lean
2. Collaborate across borders, departments and professions
3. Achieve better ROI

1. Get lean and stay lean

Law firms with this legal technology can embrace “lean” practices with ease. Lean implies getting the most out of a process with the least amount of time and effort spent, eliminating waste of any kind. Visualisation technology helps lawyers move away from the traditionally laborious and error prone ways of approaching legal tasks, and move towards gaining operational efficiencies and minimising risks. We can now enter into a new world, where we can say no to information overload, and yes to creating differentiation and enhancing competitive strength.

2. Collaborate across borders, departments and professions

Regular cross-border and cross-departmental communication, whether it is with clients or team members, is essential to the success and reputation of a law firm. By building a picture of the critical information involved in a matter, lawyers of all levels and from different practice areas can collaborate and communicate more effectively. In fact, this goes beyond just lawyers speaking to lawyers. We are talking about lawyers, bankers, accountants, insolvency practitioners, company directors and many more, all communicating in a similar way. Language, distance or technical legal knowledge are all barriers that can be minimised through the use of visualisation, not to mention the ability to share information quickly in a universal language.

3. Achieve better ROI – Return on Information

The ROI we are talking about here is return on information. Or in other words, the return on our investment in information, or more specifically, our investment in commercial information management.

In terms of this investment, what the benefits are, how to measure them and how to maximise the benefits are all key elements in the emerging discipline of commercial information management. It is not possible to explain them all in detail in this blog, but the key message is this – lawyers can leverage the power of visualisation to make better decisions, give better advice, reduce risks and deliver greater client value. Further, lawyers can leverage information as an asset to their own business, and differentiate through better knowledge management.

Imagine this – on our computer sits an interactive solution, designed for professional audiences who need to gather commercial information in order to give advice, and this unique solution can tease out connections and turn complex data into simple pictures. The revolution is here and so are the solutions that can help you respond. As I asked the #SOLSC14 conference audience today – how is your firm using datavis?

Karen Lee is a specialist lawyer with senior management experience who has practised banking and financial services law for 17 years and offers a valuable combination of legal, drafting and managerial expertise. As a member of the Encompass Industry Advisor Panel, Karen is one of a number of industry experts who advise Encompass on current and relevant industry insights, which inform the software’s development and marketing. More about Karen

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Lawyers, accountants, corporate advisors and lenders must review and cross reference official documents from a range of sources, to verify facts at the beginning of every matter.

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