Predictions 2008 – Second Guesses

December 5, 2007

From Anna Cook, Partner, Wedlake Bell:

I think that the suppliers of outsourced services are gaining confidence and they are being less flexible in the provision of services.   Also, services are becoming more commoditised.   In turn, this is giving rise to simpler contracts.  Customers are also seeking to negotiate shorter term contracts and more flexible exit provisions so that, if they do not like the service, they can go elsewhere.  For litigators, this is likely to mean that, in the coming year, there is more work arising out of contract terminations.

There will be changes to the law on data protection and privacy, particularly insofar as the data relates to children. Not only is there a growing anxiety about the proliferation of databases created by government (and its apparent inability to safeguard this data), but there is also concern that children are compromising their own privacy by participating in social networking sites.

Following on from the Gowers Review, the impact of recent decisions in Europe and Australia and the recent agreement between French ISPs and the local music and film industry, we may see more activity on the part of ISPs to take action to prevent online piracy.   A failure by ISPs to take action to prevent online piracy is likely to result in the introduction of the legislation suggested in the Gowers Review.

From Maureen Daly, Partner and Head of Technology and Intellectual Property at Beauchamps Solicitors, Ireland:

I predict that many of the following issues (which have held our attention in 2007) will continue to do so in 2008:
1. The ability of a claimant to discover the identity of the authors of anonymous materials posted on the Internet will remain a topical issue for bulletin board owners and their legal advisors.
2. With the popularity of Second Life, real life companies are moving quickly to establish a presence in order to exploit new advertising opportunities. However, lawyers wait to see how actions for infringement of intellectual property rights will be played out in such an environment.
3. The legal skirmishes involving social networking sites such as YouTube will continue to enthral lawyers worldwide.
4. While the (eternal) war against counterfeiters will continue in 2008, operators such as eBay will come under increasing pressure form brand owners to halt the sale of counterfeit products on their sites.
5. Data security will be an important issue in 2008. In light of recent high profile data protection breaches in both the UK and Ireland, the rivate and public sectors will come under increased pressure to ensure that they are data protection compliant. Consumer protection will also be an important area for companies to monitor, particularly in light of EU proposals to increase the protection afforded to customers who buy digital material online.

From Andy Harbison, Senior Manager IT Forensics & Litigation Support, Deloitte Touche, Dublin:

IT Forensics and Cyber Crime

Unfortunately cyber criminals will become a good deal more sophisticated in the next year. Legal professionals advising Banks and other financial service companies should look out for three new trends in phishing frauds
• ‘Fast Flux Phishing’ is a new way of carrying out mass phishing frauds. I won’t go into the technology, but it is something that makes the fake Web sites associated with such scams much very much more difficult to locate and shut down.
• ‘Trojan’ Phishing is another nasty new trend likely to become more common in 2008. Instead of using a fake Web site to con their victims, the criminals plant a Trojan horse program on the victim’s computer that takes over when the victim accesses their e-banking account – sending their credentials, passwords etc. to the criminals. It is much more difficult to detect these scams, and (from the liability perspective) much more difficult to place the blame for falling for them on the customer.
• ‘Spear Phishing’ is likely to cause the most legal friction. Instead of targeting a large number of e-mail accounts with a generic phishing e-mail, spear phishing e-mails are more carefully researched, using information gathered from the Internet and other sources. This allows the e-mails to be far more convincing. Spear phishing attacks are disproportionately targeted at ‘high net worth’ individuals, hence the possibility of legal action.


The biggest concern in e-discovery is that in the next year we are likely to see the consequences of a surge in computer hard drive sizes that occurred a couple of years ago. This will result in yet larger and more costly review and discovery processes. It might interest you to know that the scientists responsible for the breakthrough that permitted this sudden growth in hard drive sizes (it’s call Giant Magnetoresistance or GMR) won the Nobel Prize for Physics this year. This is because lawyers don’t vote for the Nobel Prize.
If past experience in the USA is any guide, you may also see increasing requests for law firms to provide ‘Litigation Preparedness ‘ services – ie making sure companies’ archives are correctly managed for rapid review and discovery. Companies with any exposure to US litigation should be doing this already.

From Maitland Kalton, English solicitor and New York attorney, who founded niche technology firm Kaltons.

Technology that does not stand out, that sooner melts into the background and yet powerfully facilitates business and human interaction is what I see for the coming year and beyond; an expansion of the connectivity seen in the explosion of social network sites; technology that mimics how humans like to work with each other even when we do so online.  In essence, technology that facilitates effective interpersonal relationships, that allows a business to demonstrate its understanding of its customers through truly considerate technology that serves the customer, that shows the business is interested in them and is not simply there to keep them at bay.

From David McNamara, Sales & Marketing Director, Solicitors Own Software (SOS):

SOS predicts that during 2008, SME law firms are increasingly likely to follow the lead of the large firms in a number of areas:

Remote hosting

Both for economic reasons (remote hosting costs are falling) and increased security of sensitive client data held on firms’ internal servers, remote hosting will be considered by more and more firms, particularly when the time comes for a major spend on new hardware or IT infrastructure.

Outsourcing of Practice Functions

We are likely to see an increase in acceptance of outsourcing in relation to practice functions such as IT admin, cashiering, secretarial, payroll and phone services as these become common offerings as fixed price commodities, more efficiently and better handled by companies with the relevant expertise.

Fee Earner Productivity Tools

Expect a wider adoption of fee earner productivity tools using matter or case management systems designed for low volume applications and operated by the fee earner rather than support staff. Effective e-mail management will be an increasingly important component.

Business Process and Risk Management built-in

Increasingly, firms will be looking to incorporate both Business Process and Risk Management procedures into their standard matter management workflows.

Flexible Working

The growing availability of faster and cheaper broadband and wifi connections increases the options to firms for acceptable remote and mobile working for their fee earners, which will increase the awareness and relevance of .net based applications to the profession.

More generally, the honeymoon period for the consolidated software suppliers will be over in 2008 and both existing and potential customers will be looking to see if the promises are really being delivered.
Many firms will give up Legal Aid work after the nightmare of the recent LSC changes (a pity in some ways as suppliers including SOS have actually done a remarkable job of interpreting the new requirements and enhancing their software under ridiculous timescales dictated by the LSC – so can actually offer modified systems that will help make the work viable!)
There will be an increasing adoption of new software licensing models offering ‘pay as you go’ or monthly user charges rather than outright purchase – all part of a longer term move towards a general acceptance (by suppliers as well as law firms) of the Software as a Service (SAAS) concept.

From James Tuke, Director of Intendance, the Web site systems and research company:

What law firms do online is, as always, our primary focus and I expect 2008 to witness firms’ growing awareness of the social media revolution. Both as a platform for presenting and, where possible, managing the firm’s profile, sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn will become increasingly important to firms. The more adventurous may follow Field Fisher Waterhouse’s lead into the virtual world of Second Life, although many questions remain unanswered around the practicality of doing more than PR in such environments. As observers of the activities of firms online for the last six years, we have long held the view that Web site content – and content delivery – offers firms the greatest scope to differentiate online and do not expect to change this point of view for the foreseeable future.

From Linda Webster, Director of IT and Facilities, Wedlake Bell:

I predict:
• An increase in the use of webcasting as a method of disseminating information
• More use of multimedia on Web sites and micro sites
• The systems now in place to support a more flexible approach to working – lawyers working from home and abroad, utilising citrix, web meetings and video conferencing from PC screens – will be seen as of increasing importance and will assist in firms retaining top quality staff.
• More focussed use of portals delivering specific information to individuals using Web 2.0/3.0 technology.
• The use of wikis and blogs within law firms will continue to expand
• Microsoft Vista and Office 2007 will start to be rolled out by law firms.  There has been hesitation up until now, but it is inevitable that this will happen.
• More focus in communicating with clients using new technology – extranets, mirco sites, multi media communications.


For the first set of a dozen predictions, click here. For the third set, click here.  For the fourth set, click here.