John Kennedy (@MrJohnFKennedy) of Ireland’s Silicon Republic shares an interview with Accenture’s Innovation CTO, Gavin Michael (@gavinmichael), about the rise in context-based shopping experiences because of the increasing penetration of social media and smartphone technology. Some of the thoughts Michael shares in the video interview get me thinking about how context based shopping will apply to the selecting of legal counsel – not just by consumers, but by executives and general counsel. Before serving at Accenture Michael was IT director for Lloyds’ Banking Group where he directed technology rollout for its retail banking base. He’s now responsible for directing Accenture’s technology vision and embracing trends that impact on the business landscape. So he’s not talking about context buying for lego’s while at a toy store or Disney World.

He said that the retail business worldwide needs to be ready to leverage the rise of context-based services, an emerging technology trend where real world digital data is aggregated to understand “who you are, where you are and what you are doing” to give consumers a rich experience. This technology trend he says is being driven by soaring Smartphone usage, the expansion of cloud computing and the explosion of social media participation. This will require tools for aggregating and analyzing multiple forms of data and acting in real-time to serve the customer who is either online or on-premises.

As to the law?

  • What if on researching statutory, regulatory, or case law, the text you received was annotated with blog posts from leading lawyers who had offered insight and commentary on the subject you were researching?
  • The blog posts would be filtered tech wise and people wise to make sure the content was coming from influential and trusted sources. LXBN is already starting to do this.
  • What if all cases, codes, and regulations cited in a blog linked to the primary sources in legal research from a company like Fastcase, founded by Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal. And Fastcase’s research was annotated with blogs and later with names of legal authorities identified via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn? Research from Fastcase is now accesible by over 500,000 lawyers (large and small firms)?
  • Maybe annotate primary authorities with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in some capacity so to empower lawyers to grow their network of relationships with the best and brightest legal minds in the country?

Crazy? Not if you look around and see the speed of change. The world is not moving at the speed of the legal profession. Innovators in the legal industry, unlike LexisNexis, WoltersKluwer, and Thomson Reuters, are not building solutions that lawyers are looking for, we are building the future. What about privacy issues? Are we disclosing too much of what we are doing and where we are going in research and in relationships (collaboration, networking)? I’m with Accenture’s Michael.

I think that tension between what we share and how it is used is one we need to manage in a very positive way. Relevance is key here, people are happy to share information. If what I get back is a relevant experience I’m prepared to let people know where I will be travelling to if that means I can get a better insight into the hotels that are there when I get there and this is what Reach.ly does, for example. This is a service that tries to understand from Twitter and provide a very profitable sharing environment arond where I am going to be and match the two together. The challenge is going to be people don’t want to be bombarded with offers that are irrelevant. I think that’s really going to be the tension we need to manage and what brands need to manage.

Connect the dots from sharing context (what’s around you on the net, discovery of new insight and the brightest minds, collaboration) to selecting the best counsel for you. I don’t think it’s a loose connection. It’s going to happen. Context shopping for legal counsel.