Steph Corey is Co-Founder & General Partner of UpLevel Ops, LLC, and a Co-Founder of CLOC. She is also a highly-valued member of the HPC Advisory Board

Who are you and what is your role?

Stephanie Corey, General Partner and co-founder of UpLevel Ops, LLC, a multi-service Legal Operations consulting firm, and co-founder of CLOC, Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.

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

I would say legal technology advancements in general, but specifically, artificial intelligence. It’s already available in eDiscovery, and now being built in eBilling and contracting systems, and will completely change how systems are used, much like how SaaS changed how systems are implemented. Next is blockchain technology. I do think we’ll see this change contracting significantly.

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

I agree. For instance, in eBilling, I think AI will eventually allow us to eliminate UTBMS codes, which are overly complicated and often used inaccurately, and allow for serious data analytics that were mostly done by hand in the past. I think we’ll also see it used more and more in contracting and ethics and compliance programs to predict risky behavior before it occurs.

Cybersecurity is often quoted as being both the next greatest risk and also the greatest revenue opportunity for legal services providers. What are your thoughts?

I agree with both of those statements. In fact, it’s a service we’re currently exploring offering here at UpLevel.   Companies ask their law firms to comply with their security standards, but rarely verify compliance. I do think it’s a gap.

Is Automation a “silver bullet” for law – or is law more complicated than other sectors?

I wouldn’t call it a silver bullet. I would say that constant process improvement is the real silver bullet. Automation often fits nicely on top of this, but I wouldn’t automate until your process is clean and simple. Technology loves simplicity.

There is much more data available for both lawyers and their clients? Is more better – or just more?

It depends on how you use the data. If it’s just being stored for an eternity, it’s definitely just more. But if you’re using the data to drive efficiency and make better decisions, then it’s better.

We see a push for greater “value” and “innovation” in both legal products and price levels, structures? Is there more to value than the price tag these days?

Value is just what it’s worth to you. I’ve implemented some systems for a small fortune that have added far less value than other systems costing a fraction of the price. But certainly in the past few years, we’ve seen prices come down, and the level of sophistication at the buyer level increase, so the demand for value has increased as well.

There’s a growing trend toward litigation funding and other forms of legal financing. What are your thoughts on that?

There is no question it is a growing trend, and it is probably here to stay.  Any in-house legal department should consider this option for a potentially big litigation, especially one where the company would be the plaintiff on a matter that is not core to the ongoing business model, such as a recovery for an antitrust matter or many patent claims.  I find the trend somewhat disturbing because it will undoubtedly lead to even more litigation in an overly litigious society, and the course of litigation will be dictated purely by financial analysis rather than business reasons or justice.

We see more pricing data and a push for greater transparency in legal procurement. What do you see as the implications of this?

Of course I’m a big advocate on transparency and the availability of more data. The better we get at understanding what we currently pay and what value we receive from well-managed cases, the better we get at developing alternative fee arrangements with firms, which is how things are going. Then rather than focusing on how many attorneys were on a call or whether or not they charged us for photocopies, we can focus on outcomes and quality.

What’s the one shift or change you think will catch the industry un-prepared in the next decade – whether good, bad or downright ugly?

Value-based pricing. The model of the hourly billing is just not sustainable at an increase of 3-5% every year. Companies are sick of scrubbing invoices and wondering why they’re paying $800 an hour for attorneys. Law firms are going to have to accept alternative fee arrangements and be willing to negotiate them with clients, or get dropped for firms who are more innovative and have mastered the skill of pricing and project management. I’m seeing it with clients in Silicon Valley, and I’m betting it’s only going to get bigger.

A veteran in the Legal Operations field, Stephanie Corey began her career at Hewlett Packard Company as Chief of Staff and head of Legal Operations. Stephanie has held similar positions at VMWare and Flex International. She is the co-founder of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), a leading Legal Operations association, and co-founder and General Partner of UpLevel Ops, LLC, a legal strategy and operations consulting firm. Stephanie holds a BA in Economics and an MBA from Lehigh University, and is a serial entrepreneur in her spare time.