Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Erez Bustan, the CEO of American LegalNet, a leading cloud and mobile litigation platform.
Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and the genesis of American LegalNet.
Erez Bustan: I have been involved in legal technology for over 25 years. Prior to American LegalNet, I owned and operated an attorney services company that offered service of process and court filing support. While managing that business, I identified a range of manual processes that could benefit from automation to help law firms, and then in 1996, I founded American LegalNet to pursue that vision.
Ari Kaplan: How did the pandemic affect the way American LegalNet delivers value?
Erez Bustan: The pandemic accelerated with adoption of tools that help lawyers and legal professionals screen their workflow, particularly when working remotely from home.
Ari Kaplan: What was your objective in launching ALN Cloud, and how does that align with the company’s mission?
Erez Bustan: Over the years, we have developed a number of products that help the law firms, from calculating and calendaring deadlines to offering the largest collection of forms and supporting electronic filing. We have now combined our entire suite of services and made it available in the cloud to give law firms a streamlined workflow that strengthens some of their weaker processes. We have also combined the ability for legal professionals to leverage mobile applications in the cloud, with support from artificial and business intelligence capabilities that enhance the experience.
Ari Kaplan: ALN just released a new report—on which I was privileged to collaborate—The Future of Litigation Workflow: Reimagining Technology and Process in the Next Decade. Why did you focus on law firm leaders for this research?
Erez Bustan: We were working on new initiatives using artificial intelligence and the cloud, so we wanted to ensure that we understood the needs of those who were making decisions in litigation about using the cloud and mobile devices, as well as how they view the future of litigation in general. Since Ari Kaplan Advisors conducted this research during a once-in-a-lifetime event, we were able to learn a lot about the future of litigation and how law firms were surviving and thriving, including lessons that they were learning in real time.
Ari Kaplan: What were the key findings?
Erez Bustan: The results were very interesting. We found that 30% of the participants, all of whom were large law firm partners responsible for litigation, highlighted that the disruption from the pandemic had increased the risk of administrative errors, such as calendaring issues, and 33% noted that it is more challenging to manage deadlines. Fifty-five percent are moving more of their litigation management to the cloud, and 67% of those moving to the cloud are doing so as a result of the pandemic. Seventy-nine percent of law firms leaders interviewed for this research agreed that the pandemic transformed the way litigators approach their work, and 91% reported benefits from remote litigation. The report identifies a number of trends in the market, including its direction, and hopefully helps readers understand the needs of law firms moving forward.
Ari Kaplan: Did anything about the research surprise you?
Erez Bustan: Law firms are realizing that automated workflows can really help law firms grow and become more profitable. We were particularly pleased to see how they embraced technology to maintain their operations, and I think everyone was surprised at how quickly and relatively seamlessly they made the shift to remote work. Also, with the endless changes that the courts were making to key deadlines, the research highlights an increased awareness of the value of docketing software by litigators and a greater appreciation for its importance to their work. Until the spring of 2020, many had this technology available to them but were not using it as extensively as they are now. And as courts continue to reschedule matters and move dates automatically, there has been a heightened focus on accurate calendaring and a growing need for redundancy in alerts.
Ari Kaplan: As the legal community returns to its prior activities, how do you think litigation will change?
Erez Bustan: On many levels, litigation is still in a holding pattern. Courts remain backlogged, and many are still trying to find solutions to their case management challenges. We think the shift back to the office will be slow, since professionals have gotten used to working from home, so there will be a continued emphasis on using technology to support them. I don’t think the general work schedule will ever return to a pre-pandemic posture, especially since organizations have realized how much more efficient they can be with a greater use of technology. After all, not everything has to be done in person. The pandemic accelerated an array of changes with technology, and the situation lasted long enough to build a sufficient level of trust in the tools that they use to better manage their work-life balance. We also know that early-adopter law firms perform better in the long run. Some firms succeeded because they were able to build more flexibility into their practices and schedules. The courts are also likely to adopt more technology to drive efficiency. We are only at the beginning of a very long journey towards a more tech-enabled, cloud-based, fully-mobile and more secure digital transformation for litigators, law firms and courts.