As firms build and grow it can be hard to accurately gauge how your business stacks up against similarly sized competitors. Furthermore, with the rapid pace of technological advancements it can be challenging to stay on top of current marketplace trends for even the largest firms. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing and ABA LTRC Tech surveys, what they say about current tech trends, and how law firms can use this information to gain an advantage in the marketplace.
In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom discuss Blockchain technology, smart contracting, and how this technology can help law firms build trust and increase security. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Leveraging Blockchain and Legal Tech Surveys
Intro: Web 2.0, Innovation, Trend, Collaboration, Software… Got the world turning as fast as it can, hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’, here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to Episode 175 of ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’. I am Dennis Kennedy in St. Louis.
Tom Mighell: And I am Tom Mighell in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode we pointed out some technologies that we wish would arrive very soon. It’s time again for our annual look at the results of the two major legal tech surveys that come out at this time of year. It’s a bit of a tradition at the podcast. Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis you are right. In this edition of ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’, we will be looking into the results of the two major legal tech surveys of the year; the ILTA (InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey) and the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center Tech Survey.
In our second segment, we are going to take a quick look at Blockchain and Smart Contracting, and Dennis is going to try to make me understand what that actually is. And as usual, we will finish up with our partying shots that one tip website or observation that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over.
Well, first it’s time for a topic that I know I do, or think you do really enjoy talking about every year, around this time of year, both the ILTA, and InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey and the ABA’s LTRC, the Legal Technology Resource Center Survey come out right around the same time. I think these are the best indicators during the year about not only how lawyers are using technology, but how law firms are helping to provide that technology and what priorities they’re looking at for their lawyers.
But I’m guessing that not everybody listening to this podcast knows about these surveys, so I guess, Dennis maybe, it makes sense to start out describing them and what they are about.
Dennis Kennedy: Okay. So these are the two big surveys to come out this summer. I think that a little bit later in the fall you will see a survey from American Lawyer Media that looks at some of the — like the Am Law 200 Tech Survey which gives you information that just comes out at different time of year. So, these two tend to come out right at the same time. So it makes sense for us to talk about them and it has been a tradition for us.
So the ILTA (InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey) has done a connection with ILTA, the International Legal Technology Association’s Conference which is held in August of every year. And our friends JoAnna Forshee and Jobst Elster at InsideLegal work with ILTA to do this survey and publish the results. And so it’s focused on ILTA member firms, tends to look more at larger firms, is sort of the way I think about it. The information comes generally from the IT departments and it focuses on where is the money going?
So what are people buying and then looks at the trends and then JoAnna and Jobst do a nice job every year of extending the range of the questions and trying to identify some new areas to talk about things. So that gives you sort of a bigger firm, IT-focused, and then definitely focused on the spending side of things. So I think that gives you some really interesting information.
The ABA Survey, Tech Survey is sort of broader in range, definitely more solo and small firm, you get more lawyers responding to it, gives you a cross-section and gives you a sense in a whole variety of areas, what’s going on with lawyers.
At the time we usually give caveats on these surveys that I think that there is not a lot of information out there so these are great sources, but we have to remember that it’s self-reporting for one thing, it’s self-selecting depending on who answers these. And sometimes you will see in the results that especially in the ABA Survey, people are answering questions in ways that shows that they don’t understand the thing. So I think you — I think it’s difficult to draw conclusions that this is exact in a translation to what’s going on exactly in the legal community. But I think it’s really used for trends and to also show the rise and fall of different technologies and kind of show as sort of the accumulation and the confirmation year-to-year between these surveys. It’s really useful at giving us a picture of what’s going on in technology and law firms, which is why I really enjoy looking at these surveys every year and thinking about them.
Tom Mighell: I want to dive a little bit more into the demographics, when we compare the two, I like to look at actually what size firms are answering the survey and the differences this year are really actually quite interesting.
So if you look at the ILTA Survey, firms of 1-100 made up 62% of the survey respondents and then when you increase that to firms of 200 or less, they made up 80%. So that went all the way up to firms of 200; that’s 80% of the people that answered the ILTA Survey.
In contrast, the ABA Survey, I think it’s almost the exact same number. Lawyers from firms of 1-9 lawyers made up 62% of the response and then if you add firms up to 50 lawyers; that made 80% of the survey. So there’s a stark difference there, we’re talking about, starting to be really big firms answering the ILTA Survey and really a small firm or to kind of almost getting to be ready to be medium-sized firm answering the ABA Survey, and the results are quite different, as a result, I mean, I think you’re right; more lawyers, if not, almost all lawyers answer the ABA Survey.
I would guess that even though it’s self-reporting, I would guess that with a lot of the lawyers in the ABA Survey you might get a lot more “I don’t know answers” than you get in the ILTA Survey.
On the other hand, the ILTA Survey like you said is more focused on purchasing and what’s important to IT. So when they asked the question about — for example, they asked the question about what are the compelling reasons to embrace the cloud, none of the reasons that they talked about, there was zero focus on the end user. They didn’t say collaboration or some other benefit to the user on the list, it’s all about cost savings and flexibility and technical expertise required by IT staff.
And so, I think that they both have great value to show and that’s why I like them so much is that they show the issue from two different sides of the coin. I think that if they were asking the same questions and had the same audiences, they would be much less interesting.
Dennis Kennedy: Right, and I think that the other thing is that to build on that, and I agree with you that there is a notion of saying, in the ABA Survey you kind of get a sense of how lawyers are using technology and it does give you a feeling of both the IT lens and there may be management lens in a big firm sense.
So I think the economic numbers become really the interesting piece of the ILTA Survey. In ABA Survey, you get a sense — I think you get a better feel of how lawyers are actually using technology, and both are good. So I think it’s sort of two sides of the coin or it sort of completes the picture. So I think the two read together are really what gets me thinking.
So I don’t know, Tom, with that as background what kind of jumped out at you this year, what got you interested in the results from this year?
Tom Mighell: So let’s may be start with ILTA first and talk about what jumped out at us from the ILTA Survey. There were a couple of things that I thought, and I think that it was striking that to see that legal technology budgets continue to go up. I think there’s a clear trend, it may not be going up a lot, but I think that budgets tend to be going up.
A lot of things stay the same. For the third year in a row, most technology purchases tend to be hardware, your desktops and laptops and that’s really all about upgrades and continuing to upgrade software that they have, and so that’s really surprising.
What I did find was interesting is that, there was a huge focus on security now and I imagine a lot of that is due to the increasing number of data breaches on the ransomware issues that are attacking lots of firms and just the fact that security seems to be top of mind for everybody these days, but I think that there is a much heightened focus on security awareness, on security monitoring services, those types of things.
Artificial Intelligence made its first show in the survey. Clearly, a big firm item right now, smaller firms are not really dealing with those. And then I like to see, I would say that Microsoft seems to be back in play. There is a demand for Office 365, it’s not a huge number and I would expect it to be a little bit bigger because I am seeing lots and lots of companies outside of the legal industry move to Office 365 but still, that’s encouraging.
Lot of companies are upgrading — lot of firms upgrading to Windows 10, so I think that Microsoft is certainly not being hurt in this new environment. There are couple other issues that I want to talk about in a minute but those are kind of the things that stuck out to me as big issues, what stuck out for you Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I want to comment on the security, the increased priority and security because I notice that as well, and my reaction was, hey! It’s about time and I think the security stuff for law firms is driven a lot by clients who are certainly put demands and there may be requirements certainly in the financial, with financial and healthcare clients to cause some of that increase. But I don’t think the legal profession has really been a shining star in security as it is, so it’s nice to see some upward movement in that. But I guess my overall reaction and when you looked at list of top five technology purchases, desktop hardware, laptops, network upgrades, printers —
Tom Mighell: Printers?
Dennis Kennedy: — antivirus, and I am going like, oh my God, this is so boring. Tom, this is so boring to me again this year, and I was sort of like, you know what really interests me, and I sort of go through the stages of this as you know Tom every year, I go like, oh my God, we have to be in the most boring profession there could be when it comes to technology. And I go, this just shows how interested I am in the edge, getting to the leading edge of technology and who’s doing that I can’t even tell. And then I listen to you and you kind of talk me down and then I go, okay, but once I start to study this, it shows me ways that I don’t — people aren’t necessarily going to go from where they are to the leading edge every year but —
Tom Mighell: You don’t get to the leading edge without an infrastructure.
Dennis Kennedy: Right. Well, what I come to as I say, I look at this and I see what the other people are doing and I definitely say that if I study this and I am in a firm, I am looking at technology, I can get — I can see ways to get one or two steps ahead of my competition in certain areas. And if I do that every year based on the survey, then in five years I can be pretty far ahead, and so — and I can get closer to the stuff that interests me and I would go like — well, I’d like to be at — personally I would like to be at these firms that are doing AI and other things like that. But I think you’re right, there is a focus really on the infrastructure, getting stability in that infrastructure which is really important, so that reflects in ILTA Survey that the influence of the IT Department which is all about stability, which is all about backup and managing things, but you got to look really hard in these surveys to see where innovation is and how you get out to the edge.
So this is our usual conversation, Tom, right, I am going like, where is the edge and then you are going to say, there are other things just as important, Dennis.
Tom Mighell: Well, I think there are things that are important and when I look at — if we still talk about ILTA and we are going to — we need to pivot in a second to ABA, but I look at what I would consider to be the most exciting trend. So if we look at what could be innovation in the ILTA Survey, certainly Artificial Intelligence, but the problem is, is that right now only 2% are using it and 11% of the survey respondents are even evaluating it. I’m not surprised, but — well, I guess what surprises me more about that is that of the firms that are evaluating AI, only 50% are large firms, which means that there are small firms that are out there looking at. So it’s really not limited to these larger firms, I think that there are small firms that are innovating, that are starting to do this more often. I would have expected that number to be higher for large firms. I have thought it was interesting that cloud computing is an exciting trend that we are seeing. I mean, for someone who would like to be at the leading edge, I would expect that cloud computing would have been something a couple of years ago to be excited about. And then security and governance, I wouldn’t really call an exciting trend, but I guess it’s exciting that law firms are maybe paying attention to it.
They always have and one of the my favorite parts of the survey is always asking what the biggest issues or biggest concerns are for IT, and clearly security is at the top of the list as terms of that, what I was absolutely surprised at were some of the others that fell below security. I was incredibly pleased and gratified to see that user adoption and lack of training is the number two concern. I don’t know if this has anything to do — I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that many Bar Associations are requiring a duty of technological competence, but I’d like to believe that was what was driving this concern. My day job of information governance is now number four.
Lawyers are finally recognizing that they have to actually manage the records that they are creating, which again, Dennis is yawning as I say this, because it’s boring. It’s stuff that firms really should have been dealing with a long time ago and something that’s really not bleeding edge, but it’s something that has to be done. And I think the most interesting thing to me was that e-mail management has fallen to fifth on the list where it’s been at the top of the list for years, suddenly it’s not a big deal anymore.
I would argue the opposite; I’d argue that it’s even a bigger problem. See information governance above for the reason for that, but those were the things that really, I think the rest of the part that stuck out to me, Dennis, any comments or thoughts or issues on that?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. You’ll be interested, I just recorded a webinar earlier today where I said the words that I thought information governance was the key idea, the key notion, or the key thing to look at in the new world of new technologies and data and that good information governance and understanding of information governance gives you the keys to the kingdom I think in terms of data and evidence.
Tom Mighell: You would be correct.
Dennis Kennedy: So I am coming around to your point of view and so that was one comment. So I think information governance, I expect that as a trend that’s going to go up. I am certainly interested in two things I want to mention before we do the pivot. So one is, when they talked about how AI would influence legal, people talked about e-discovery. I think that’s a fair point. Document automation in contract automation, I don’t know — I mean that’s been around for 30 years, I don’t really see AI having a big impact on that. So we are kind of curious how people are doing that. Legal research, potentially, but there are couple of things here that were on the list but sort of down the list that I think are interesting.
So contract analysis is an area I think that AI has some potential impact over time. And then something that is actually quite interesting is using AI for case outcome and predictions, and so, I think that is a promising area. So those were my reactions there. And then, Tom, as no ILTA Survey is complete without our annual discussion of how between the two surveys, but especially the ILTA Survey, my blog always gets mentioned as a source that people learn from. So it’s a small source, let’s be fair, so what I see in there that’s interesting is how valuable ILTA is to the people.
Tom Mighell: Oh, amazingly. Oh yeah.
Dennis Kennedy: And the numbers just call that out. And then, so you see my blog there and then in the ABA Survey when they talk about what people learn from things, like, one of the big sources of the ABA Journal were I’ve written a tech column for years, and so, I unfairly like to add those numbers together and look at what a large percentage of people are learning about legal technology for me, and then Tom, of course corrects my analysis of those numbers.
Tom Mighell: I am going to correct it. All I am going to say is, your excellent column aside in the ABA Journal, I don’t think anybody would mistake the rest of the ABA Journal as being an authoritative source on technology. And I think that that kind of shows the difference between the ILTA and the ABA Surveys and to me what I am going to talk about for the next two or three minutes is going to validate our day jobs, it’s going to validate what we do for the ABA and what we’ve done at Tech Show is the fact that lawyers still don’t get technology. They still don’t do what they’re supposed to do and the numbers aren’t increasing in the way that I would expect them to increase. So let me throw out some things that I thought were interesting.
Like what you said, ABA Journal, 48% of the people who responded get their technology information from the ABA Journal, which I am going to be honest is kind of flabbergasting to me. I mean it has some interesting stories in it but it’s just journalism; it’s not really the kind of high quality stuff that ILTA puts out for its members.
Dennis Kennedy: Can you take that back, Tom?
Tom Mighell: I said your column aside, Dennis’ column always provides good practical information. I am going to save cloud computing for you because I know you want to talk about that. I am amazed that in the courtroom 45% of the lawyers who are in the courtroom don’t use a laptop, 63% don’t use a tablet, 65% of lawyers don’t use anything in the courtroom for evidence presentation, 58% use zero tools for any display or output, they are not showing exhibits, they are not showing other documents, maybe we got a lot of appellate lawyers who are just sitting there and making arguments. I don’t know, but even appellate lawyers like to show their stuff too. Still only 45% of the lawyers who entered the survey have dealt with e-discovery. I would think 10 years after their original rules came into effect we would have more than 45% of the lawyers dealing with e-discovery.
Only 15% are using predictive coding and I think that’s a real — there is a real statement that we can have a broader discussion about predictive coding and about e-discovery that it’s really for certain types of cases, it’s really for bigger firms, it’s not something that has broad appeal outside of the bigger firms. Let’s see, 69% of lawyers don’t have blogs, actually there’s probably little more of individual lawyers, 69% of firms don’t have blogs.
I learned that so many lawyers are filing e-mail in bad or wrong places, including 57% of the lawyers who at least sometimes send work e-mails to personal e-mail and that just drives me absolutely crazy. My particular area of interest there is always mobile, I was gratified to see that the number of people using no security when accessing public Wi-Fi is down from 29% to 19% this year, but still 38% of solo lawyers use no security when they access Wi-Fi. I did like the difference between the use of BlackBerry among lawyers, in the ABA Survey, right, in the ILTA Survey which I would think reflects the larger firms still purchasing BlackBerrys, 18% of respondents are using BlackBerrys where in the ABA Survey many more solos who get their own phones, it’s down to a mere 3%, very sad, I think for BlackBerry.
And again, in the mobile world, most lawyers have never downloaded either a legal app or a business-related app to their phones and that’s in the 60% to 70% range. So again, to me it’s more the same, it’s that lawyers are just kind of hanging steady with their relative lack of knowledge of technology, and I’m sorry for those of you who are listening, I am talking to you, because you’re listening to this podcast. I think you’re part of the difference but I’m a little negative on the ABA results because it’s just kind of more the same.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, and Tom, I just for our listeners just to make sure they understand that that last set of statute came over from the ABA Survey, so we have shifted over to ABA.
Tom Mighell: Yes, that’s all ABA, that’s all lawyers on the ABA and except for the 18% of law firms using BlackBerry that’s from the ILTA Survey, everything else is ABA.
Dennis Kennedy: So part of what we do with the Legal Technology Resource Center was, we write little summaries of each of the different sections of the overall survey. So this year I wrote on and last year, actually last few years I have written a part on cloud computing. So I just want to take a little bit of time to highlight what I saw there. And so, over the last couple of years we are seeing a steady increase in the use of cloud applications. So 37% usage, I would just like to point out that even though there’s a 37% number when you ask how many of the lawyers use Dropbox, which is around 60%, you start to wonder if people actually understand what cloud is, but you do see a consistent usage of the popular consumer cloud services, Dropbox, Google Apps, iCloud and Evernote.
Same set of concerns that we see confidentiality, security, all those things, people are very concerned about it, but when it comes to actually doing something about it, again, a very, very small percentage of lawyers actually take the standards precautionary measures that they’re asked about.
So there is a disconnect there, people like — in the same way in the ILTA Survey I think that you do see, people likely, the anytime, anywhere access, low cost of entry and the predictability of cloud services, and so that’s interesting. And then the other thing I’ll just close with, because I get a sense of this in both surveys, is that you start to say, well, where is the client impact? And so, I think when on the cloud side ABA Survey where I focused, you don’t see much sense that the client needs are top of mind for why people might use cloud computing. Whereas, I think a lot of the benefits of cloud computing for lawyers, it will definitely benefit clients. So I think that’s a bit of a disconnect, but I think we’re seeing continuing cloud adoption, focus on the economics of it, and an interesting uptake in the level of comfort with cloud computing.
So Tom, if you read this stuff, what should people do about it?
Tom Mighell: We have said this before, but I think that the biggest advantage that someone who reads these surveys can take from this is really an understanding of being able to understand what you’re doing right now and what some other firms and what other lawyers are doing or what they know about, and realizing that if you just do a little bit more in your practice, if you just increase your security or do more on social media or work a little bit more with — check out new AI or innovative software, you might be able to gain a competitive advantage through your use of technology.
And I think that so this serves as a way to discover where can I make some inroads, or where can I learn to do better so that my practice is more technologically sound. To me that’s the biggest advantage from these. Dennis, what about you?
Dennis Kennedy: So it’s two things, so one is this sense of baselining. So I can say this gives me a sense of what averages are, what other firms are doing in my category or what the other lawyers are doing, and it gives me the way to make arguments to move in the directions I want with technology at my firm. And so, I think that’s what the trending is, that’s where there’s sort of how — the percentage spends, the average spends become useful and how things are being spend.
And then I also think you can — the easiest thing to deal with these and that I would suggest is you try to figure out what your strategy with technology is for, and your plans for 2017, as you take these surveys, you kind of pull things out of there and see what other people are doing and three, four, five, six things that interest you and you have a pretty decent technology plan. The start of one that you can discuss at your firm or with yourself as you look forward to what you’re doing next year as a solo. And I think it gives you the start of that plan and you can have the discussions and I think it gives you a big — a good head start on people who are just doing business as usual or just letting their IT people, IT consultant tell them what to do.
Tom Mighell: Yeah, and I think, well, let’s wrap it up by saying thank you very much again to the folks at InsideLegal, the staff at the Legal Technology Resource Center at the ABA, as usual, they always do a fantastic job putting these surveys together. They give us lots of food for thought, lots of things to talk about, and a good topic for one of our podcasts.
So before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsor.
Advertiser: Looking for a process server you can trust, ServeNow.com is a nationwide network of local prescreened process servers. ServeNow works with the most professional process servers in the industry, connecting your firm with process servers who embrace technology, have experience with high volume serves and understand the litigation process and rules of properly effectuating service. Find a prescreened process server today, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.servenow.com/”www.servenow.com.
Dennis Kennedy: And now, let’s get back to ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’. I am Dennis Kennedy.
Tom Mighell: And I am Tom Mighell. We often use a segment to do a quick intro to a new technology that’s on the horizon and something that lawyers should start to pay attention to now and get ahead of the curve. Today it’s the Blockchain and Smart Contracting.
As usual, Dennis gets to introduce these topics because I know just about as much about Blockchain as most of you out there. In fact in the ABA’s LTRC Survey the question was, what do you know about Blockchain? 78% say they’ve never heard of the term before, which I actually thought was a little bit low considering that I’ve tried to understand it and I still don’t. So Dennis, why don’t you give us a start, what is this Blockchain of which you speak?
Dennis Kennedy: So I think that, Tom, this will be like the first of — a number of passes we’ll make over the next few years about Blockchain as it develops. And so I was going to find a great definition and read it, but I thought maybe it’s better to wing it, because I think you have to look at this in a number of different ways and do your own research. So I kind of want to talk about it in a way where people will understand the interest in it and the possible implications for lawyers.
Okay, so many lawyers if heard of Bitcoin, which is a very popular cryptocurrency, so it’s a digital currency, and lawyers have heard of that because the law firms have been infected with ransomware are asked to pay the ransom in Bitcoins to unencrypt their hard drives, once the ransomware has infected them. So they become aware of — so lawyers who know about Bitcoins tend to know of it in that context.
So we have this cryptocurrency called Bitcoin and it runs on a platform, so you just think of the software that makes it happen and the systems that make it happen, that’s called the Blockchain. And so, in a sense the best way to describe Blockchain is, it’s a distributed ledger system. And so, by distributed that means decentralized. It’s not one central server — if there’s a bunch of computers all over the world that kind of connect in a way to make this platform happen, and they create a ledger showing all the steps in a transaction, so you can trace it and you can have trust and confidence, that in a Bitcoin example, the Bitcoin that you get is an actual Bitcoin and the person who gave it to you has the right to give that to you.
So ledger system, decentralized and it offers a way that I think is useful to understand that it gives you a technological way to communicate trust. Okay, so if I am handing you a dollar bill, then I may check to see if it’s counterfeit, but once it has, I cannot authenticate it, then I trust that it’s the actual dollar that I can spend.
And so, it’s that — those aspects of being non-counterfeit that create trust of that dollar bill. So in the Blockchain we are doing it in a different way and the trust interestingly comes, and I don’t think you have to understand this very well, by computers solving very sophisticated math problems in connection with these transactions. This is going to be the complicated part, but all you really care about is the results and when enough of those calculations get confirmed then that transaction gets confirmed and we create this ledger that can be conceived of in the form of blocks that show this is valid, this is valid, and so on.
So you got that confirmation and the trust of what you have is authentic, and that happens in connection with Bitcoin, but people see it happen in a number of different ways.
So that’s one aspect. So there is this cryptocurrency aspect of Blockchain, when people looked at Blockchain they said, this decentralized ledger system, so I can go back and publicly look at anything that happened on the ledger, even though the details of that transaction are encrypted, it has potential benefits in a lot of areas.
So for an example, I might be able to trace chain of title, authenticity of diamonds from ground to when they go into jewelry, shipping cargo containers, when something has arrived and how authentic it is, artwork, trademark goods, that sort of thing. So people thought of a lot of different uses for this.
Then you also talk about applications running on top of it, which I call Smart Contracting. And so, for lawyers, Smart Contracting — there is a lot of hype on this, they will take the place of lawyers and regular contracts, I think it can protect of escrow type arrangements.
So Smart Contracting would say, we proved up this transaction, we’ve done a transaction on the Blockchain, it’s all validated and then it sits in escrow until something happens, the same way other escrow works. And then that outside event that triggers the release of that can get validated over the Blockchain in the same way and then money gets automatically transferred.
So it could be expiration of time, an outside event that can be proved up, and that’s Smart Contracting in its simplest form, and so people are looking at ways they can build on that.
So there is a lot of interest in this. You get people saying this can be the second Internet, but the idea is that you can validate, you can authenticate, and you can track things in a public way to see what something is in the path it took to get to you is correct and proven up, and we can go back and look at anything on that ledger, and have confidence about it.
So that’s the full version of that and then what I say Tom is, I think about it, where it can have the impact on lawyers is that if you’re involved in something where there is an exchange of Bitcoin, you may need to understand how Blockchain works. So that could be starting to come in the future. I think you can see how the Blockchain notion and a Blockchain process could help in proving chain of title, could help in proving chain of custody of evidence in future years, authentication, identity, other things like that.
So I look at it as a system where you can have confidence and proof that what has happened, happened in validation and it happens by way of technology. And that’s why I say, I think we are going to have to revisit this as it develops, but the interest in it is so strong right now and the potential is really great that I think that lawyers just need to be aware that is around the corner and it potentially has impact on their clients. I think over a longer period of time, say 5 to 10 years, maybe on the way that we practice law and how we prove up evidence.
Tom Mighell: Well, that’s as good an explanation as I have ever heard, so I am not going to add to it with my liberal arts education anymore than I have to, except to say that Dennis pointed me to a podcast to listen to saying that if you can listen to this podcast you will be in great shape for us recording and I have to disagree that the podcast he sent me to actually confused me even more, but I will say that the overall podcast and it’s called ‘Unchained’, it’s from Forbes Magazine and they have guests on to talk about both Bitcoin and Blockchain.
I have listened to other podcasts in the series, and so if you’re interested in learning more I highly recommend to go and listen to a couple of episodes of ‘Unchained’ on Forbes. We’ll put a link too in the show notes, it’s another way to get some additional knowledge about the Blockchain.
Dennis Kennedy: And this I think is a topic, and there are other ones like this, I mean, AI is like this and some of the machine learning, Internet of Things, other things that we talked about. I think it’s something where you want to get an overview, you want to come back to it. You want to learn some examples and say, this is something that if I — each time I look at it, and I think you have a good example at this time, and it’s sort of like each time you hear it, described, you say, okay, I understand it a little better, I understand the impact, its potential impact a little better, and I can see some examples myself. I think it’s a topic to revisit from time-to-time as it develops. It’s just worth knowing how much interest is in it right now, and you are going to hear it in the context of people talking about Smart Contracting as replacing lawyers.
I think you will response as say, for things like escrow and simple contracting you can see that, but as you get more complex to the extent that it can happen, it’s definitely over the longer timeframe.
But Tom, it’s time for our parting shots at one tip website or observation you can use the second this podcast ends. Take it away.
Tom Mighell: So I am going to mention another podcast as my parting shot. We’ve talked about the podcast from FiveThirtyEight the big data people who were doing such a fantastic job analyzing the election and all that, but they have a podcast called ‘What’s the Point’. In each week they take a look at a particular issue and apply data to it to kind of understand it better. They took a little bit of a break in a recent podcast, but it’s called ‘Your Browser’s Fingerprint’, and it’s a really eye-opening discussion into all the ways that your browser is tracking you now, and the ways that the different companies work together to get information. It’s really fairly eye-opening.
If you thought that you understood how you do a search on Google for something and then you go over on to Facebook and see an ad for what you’re just searching for, if you want to kind of understand how that happens and what causes that to occur, it’s a great podcast to listen to ‘What’s The Point’ podcast.
Dennis Kennedy: I want to do two quick things really quick, Tom. So, where I first learn about Blockchain in a way to help me really understand it is a book by — I would pronounce as Paul Vigna and Michael Casey. And it says V-I-G-N-A, so I probably mispronounced that. So it’s called ‘The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order’, and there are newer books in this, but this one I really like because that gave me the understanding of the Blockchain that really got me interested in.
And so, it gives you a little history of Bitcoin in the context. It’s a little older so there have been other developments, but I think it’s a nice plain language approach because as Tom’s reaction to podcast that I thought was great, demonstrates — I think you really have to come at it several times to reach a level where you go like, oh wow! That specific podcast I recommended really started to make sense.
And the other thing is, in honor of ILTA; ILTA has a podcast, or a number of podcasts, but one recently I was listening to is on something called ISO 27001 or 27001, and so this talks about a certification process that mainly larger firms are using to show that they have sufficient security procedures to the extent they can be certified as ISO-certified, and this podcast is really great because they talk through the procedure of how that gets done, and sort of the subtext of it is, even if you decide not to do the certification, the process that they described of how you look at your security and how you do things and the processes you have in place and how you test them, I think it’s just is extraordinarily well done and really useful, and I think anybody in a law firm who thinks about security would really benefit from, I think about a 35 or 40-minute podcast that goes over this. So there are two parts, so one goes into what ISO 27001 is.
The second part kind of goes into the certification process and I listened to it without listening to the first one and I think that part 2 as a standalone will really serve you well.
Tom Mighell: So that wraps it up for this edition of ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. You can hear show notes for this episode at HYPERLINK “http://www.tkmreport.com” tkmreport.com.
If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or on the Legal Talk Network site, where you can find archives of all of our previous podcasts.
If you would like to get in touch with us, please email us at HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected] or send us a tweet. I am @tommighell and Dennis is @denniskennedy. So until the next podcast, I am Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I am Dennis Kennedy, and you have been listening to ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’, a podcast on legal technology with an Internet focus. Help us out by telling a couple of your friends and colleagues about the podcast.
Outro: Thanks for listening to ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon, and join us every other week for another edition of ‘The Kennedy-Mighell Report’, only on the Legal Talk Network.