A recent survey by Wolters Kluwer revealed that law firms classified as technology leaders continue to outperform others. When used strategically, technology can expedite workflows, accelerate growth, increase the value of services delivered to clients, and free teams from mundane tasks and enable them to apply their expertise to more interesting, higher-value work. As a result, law firms and legal departments become more efficient, innovative, competitive, and profitable.
We know that change is inevitable, so what’s on the horizon in legal tech for 2022 and beyond? Our new whitepaper covers 10 legal tech trends and reveals how your own team can mobilize to benefit from them. Here’s a brief summary of the trends and comments from thought leaders covered in the whitepaper.
Law firms and in-house legal teams are increasingly concerned about how managing administrative tasks is impacting their ability to practice law and deliver on the demand to do more with less. A powerful tool for eliminating many rote tasks is hyperautomation.
Hyperautomation takes basic automation further, involving the use of multiple technologies to accelerate automation across the organization. Increasingly, teams are identifying repetitive, manual processes and applying automation to improve their workflows so they can spend more time on high-value work.
"Well-functioning systems have the capacity to streamline workflows initially thought to be too complex for automation — and, at scale, to revolutionize how decision makers use and apply their firm’s (and their client’s) data."
— Mike Lucas, Chief Information Officer at Wilson Sonsini
Platformization creates a secure single system of record with governed access that acts as an authoritative repository of information — a hub for all content, documents, emails, and other information that is managed by the firm, both internally and externally. Platformization isn’t new, but more organizations are realizing the efficiency gains they can achieve with it, so it is attracting increased attention. Platformization, as it applies to content management, refers to a single core technology platform serving as the backbone of the management system, with built-in tools for your end users’ major day-to-day workflows. Apps and integrations can certainly extend the capabilities of the platform, but relying on this central platform as a foundation creates a seamless user experience and ensures teams can find and do what they need in the moment of need.
"For law firms and corporate legal operations, evaluating platformization — or anything that causes us to rethink and reimagine the status quo and how we work — is a good thing."
— Judi Flournoy, Chief Information Officer at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
While many organizations will continue to use a hybrid-cloud system, those who want to position themselves ideally for the future are seeking cloud-native solutions. Cloud-native solutions take optimal advantage of the cloud’s elasticity and scalability and reduce dependency on infrastructure while providing work from anywhere capabilities. The cloud efficiently supports platformization and hyperautomation at scale and supplies the computing resources necessary for workflow automation and machine learning. In fact, many of the trends explored in this report rely heavily on the cloud.
"Cloud-native solutions are winning the race to meet the immediate demands of consumers, including true scalability, seamless integration opportunities, compliance with data sovereignty laws and other local regulations, and the ability to bring solutions to market quickly."
— Durgesh Sharma, Chief Information Officer at Littler Mendelson P.C.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have promised more than they have been able to deliver to date. But this is changing as use cases and technical capabilities evolve. Mature AI and ML are driving data analytics via predictive modeling, entity extraction, and natural language processing to spot anomalies, predict future outcomes, and identify potential solutions. AI is now routinely used to identify privileged documents in massive document volumes and provide analyses to inform litigation strategies. Organizations are also using AI and ML to automate and accelerate the workflows that are at the heart of their business processes — project management, communication, knowledge management, and collaboration.
"Legal professionals also need to move past the fear of machines replacing their valuable services because the secret component to successful AI and ML is that people need to intervene to improve the machine’s results and outputs."
— Thom Wisinski, Chief Knowledge Officer at Haynes and Boone, LLP
Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, modern privacy laws will cover the personal information of 75% of the world’s population. We expect that more state legislatures will enact privacy laws akin to The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Eventually, we’re likely to see a federal privacy law similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But even without regulations around privacy, consumers will require their data privacy from the businesses with which they engage.
"In the US, state governments are taking on that work, with about 20 states that have stringent data privacy legislation that’s either currently active or created and legislated, but not yet enacted."
— David Clark, IT Director at Utah State Bar
Thanks to privacy-preserving technologies, organizations can now effectively share encrypted data while maintaining compliance. This capability allows firms to securely share data both within their organization and with stakeholders, such as clients, expert witnesses, courts, etc. Secure data sharing will continue to gain importance as privacy regulations expand.
"In the current landscape, there is an increased awareness of the reputational risks associated with data privacy and protection practices. General Counsel and Managing Partners are acutely aware of these issues, and there is a compelling driver to avoid the exposure, inadvertently or otherwise, of sensitive client information."
— David Craig, Managing Director at HBR Consulting
Today’s organizations are using a variety of technologies in both public and private clouds, and remote workers are expanding the traditional security perimeter. As a result, organizations need an ever-evolving security framework to account for the new world of remote work. Cybersecurity mesh is one approach. Other approaches include extending multifactor authentication to include internal accounts, document level encryption, and setting IP address restrictions.
“In the office, we have policies against Alexa and Google devices because they could be turned into microphones. Do we take similar precautions for those working at home?”
— Jeffrey Brandt, Chief Information Officer at Jackson Kelly PLLC
Beyond malicious attacks such as ransomware and malware, employees may inadvertently expose data to parties who shouldn’t have access to it. As data increasingly becomes central to an organization’s operations and competitive advantage, cybersecurity and the ability to recover from attacks becomes even more important. Law firms must be prepared to recover mission-critical operations after an attack. Today’s leaders must be able to anticipate future threats, withstand attacks, and recover from them, as well as adapt to whatever challenges lie ahead.
"Creating data loss prevention classifications/policies that control not only access but also actions is now seen as fundamental, especially when policies can span platforms."
— Andrew Payne, Director at Verlata Consulting
People with disabilities make up 15% of the global population, yet a 2021 report by the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State revealed that 98.1% of website homepages had detectable Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) failures. This discrepancy represents an opportunity for leaders who are willing to be first movers in making their organizations more inclusive.
"This sudden new way of working brought to light the need to consider how individuals with disabilities access technologies and perform work."
— Paul Unger, Partner at Affinity Consulting Group
Workers are leaving their jobs in record numbers. While there are complex reasons for this dramatic migration, what’s obvious is that many people aren’t happy with their existing employment. As a result, organizations are prioritizing employee satisfaction, with a primary factor being the option of flexible work. Technology will be harnessed to enable better user experiences and drive employee satisfaction.
"To attract and retain top talent, we must make the employee experience better, make it easier to do work, provide professional development and mentorship opportunities, and otherwise differentiate our business from others — all of which can be enabled by technology."
— Joy Heath Rush, Chief Executive Officer at International Legal Technology Association
Today’s technology has the potential to make law firms more competitive, profitable, and secure while also improving the satisfaction of their teams who are driven to apply their expertise in meaningful ways. As we watch these trends become more prevalent in 2022 and beyond, we look forward to the emergence of more effective organizations and happier, more efficient teams.
This overview just scratches the surface of what thought leaders are predicting. Get even more great information in our 10 Legal Tech Trends for 2022 and Beyond for Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments!
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