Karen Schuler: Managing Director, BDO USA


Who are you and what is your role?

My name is Karen Schuler, and I lead BDO’s Data & Information Governance practice, which focuses on helping our clients to identify, manage, protect, and remediate sensitive data sources. I bring to the role 25 years of experience in risk management, governance, legal issues and technology.

What do you think will be the single most defining technical or operational feature of the next 1-5 years in law? And then, same question – but over the next decade?

Over the next five years, we can expect to see a big “mindset” shift in the way law firms and organizations view and use their data, moving from a cost center model to a revenue center model. Many legal teams today understand the need to preserve and collect information to respond to a discovery request. In the future, however, they will also become responsible for leveraging data to improve efficiencies in their organization. These responsibilities may range from remediating sources to reduce storage costs to helping design information governance for their organization.

Over the next decade, we will see a trend of legal teams hiring more technical personnel to facilitate greater collaboration between IT and legal in investigations or litigation. Much of this will stem from the trend of companies using more sophisticated technology in the discovery process—and the new challenges technology brings, particularly from a cybersecurity perspective. The legal team will also play a greater role in an organization’s supply chain management, as the use of data in the supply chain relates to the organization’s overall data management.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is touted as a game-changer for law. What do you think?

Artificial intelligence has been used for many purposes for many years now–and we can expect its role in business processes and operations to increase as the technology evolves. Tools built today without some type of AI functionality will be obsolete within the next five years, as innovators will bypass traditional tools for those with more robust AI capabilities. Legal companies, especially, depend on AI to process and analyze huge amounts of data. For example, to analyze communications for an investigation, legal teams often rely on AI tools to provide faster and smarter results. AI is becoming a critical part of the industry now, and can only be expected to become more prevalent as adoption grows.

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