Ask the Experts – January 2023

Event write up by Joanne Humber, committee member.

Well, what a great session that was!  The first in-person combined with Zoom event happened at Milbank’s very smart new offices at 100 Liverpool Street.  It was so good to see some familiar faces both sitting around the conference table and on the screen.  Maybe life is returning to something like normal?

David Giles from Kofax, the event sponsor, also acted as an excellent moderator, keeping the speakers on track and getting the audience participation which always marks a good event.  Some great questions had been submitted in advance and there was lively discussion about each of them, as well as a few that went “off piste”! Unfortunately there wasn’t time to answer all the questions but we hope to cover them in other ways or at future events.

Naturally hybrid working came up a lot, particularly in relation to the delivery of training and the challenges of ensuring engagement.  There was consensus that we need to offer training in a range of different formats to allow for different learning styles.  Remote training seems to be here to stay, especially useful when delivering to several offices at once, everyone agreed that cameras must be on for true participation and engagement.

There was a lot of talk about the lack of control we have over the constant updates and changes that users have to deal with now, the message was clear that people need to learn how to be flexible and adaptable.  Can we teach lawyers to spend a little time learning new tech when they are under such a lot of pressure to bill?  Self-directed learning would be great!  We all want law schools to include many more real-life basic tech skills in their curriculums.  The LTC4 Learning Plans are designed to provide a structure for workflow-based training on the majority of day-to-day tasks and they are actively encouraging law schools to embrace them but with limited success so far.

Of course we talked about documents and templates and our experts made some excellent suggestions about Word features which can be hugely valuable:

  • Show/Hide – VERY useful
  • Styles (make sure users understand them!)
  • Use the Styles Panel (the firm’s styles listed in order)
  • Building Blocks

There was a reminder that the website has lots of useful information about setting up templates and using styles.  Of course using DEG Standard Styles is the very best way to work – every firm should be using them!  We are all still looking for a magical style conversion application.

We discussed the challenges of switching DMS – three of which are security on documents, document numbering and document types – which can trip you up.  Several people commented that not enough is done about involving the whole firm in the project so that they understand what’s coming. Setting up steering groups for each team/practise area/group sounds like a good idea!

Finally the panel was asked what they are looking forward to/planning in 2023 and that included Office 365; introducing DocXtools; more in-person meetings; working back in the office; understanding more about AI in legal, and accessibility – this last item being a hot topic to be discussed at a future DEG meeting.

Joanne Humber
Legal Technology Skills Consultant
Humber Associates