Predictions 3

December 11, 2007

From Alex Dunstan-Lee, a Legal Specialist in KPMG’s Forensic Technology Services group:

Thinking in data: Lawyers will start to understand the power of thinking in data, not in paper. They will start to realise that word documents, e-mails etc are not pieces of paper inserted into a computer screen. They are large bodies of data, some of which you can see, some of which you cannot. This opens up a world of possibilities for the manipulation of that data, providing risks and opportunities alike. At the moment lawyers (and many other business people) are like intermediate French speakers who can get by speaking the language but cannot think in it. This will change (though it is a road that stretches well beyond 2008).

Lessons for lawyers: Lawyers will start taking more extensive lessons in technology. They will realise that they cannot delegate all the thinking on IT. Whether it is to understand the e-disclosure world and be conversant with judges (who are already starting to receive training), or to be able to discuss with clients records management issues which will be a big issue for many of their clients in the coming years, or simply to help manage their own business, they will need education. They understood paper, files and filing cabinets. Now they need to understand the modern-day equivalents.

Legal Technology Consultants: UK firms will move towards having some form of senior consultant who is genuinely able to bridge the gap between lawyers and technologists. This will not be a mainstream Chief Information Officer (whose knowledge and remit is too general) nor will it encompass traditional IT support staff. For example, this will be someone who can converse with senior lawyers about what is ‘reasonable and proportionate’ in the context of an electronic disclosure exercise and help them understand the technology available and the nature of the evidence’s originating media. They are likely to have a legal background – indeed, it may be a technically minded fee-earner who is appointed in this role. This is a trend that is already apparent in the US.

Mining structured data: For the first time, lawyers will start to understand the power of structured data (ie sales ledgers, electronic accounts, complex databases) as opposed to ‘unstructured data’ (ie e-mails, word docs, etc). They will start to explore the way in which this data can be manipulated using technology to help support a case.

In-house lawyers on top: In-house legal teams will take more control of their data and documents. They will educate themselves more effectively as to the technology in their business and how records are managed. They will expect their lawyers to be conversant in these areas. They will want to dictate to the lawyers the review technology that lawyers use, and the methodologies used to get to the interesting material, and they will not stand for lawyers spending a lot of time reviewing irrelevant material or handling data inefficiently.

Regulatory bodies in control: Regulatory bodies (such as the FSA, SFO, OFT and the Competition Commission) will become more effective at handling data, and more knowledgeable about the review methodologies available. They will enter into discussion with the parties about the use of technology in their investigations. Lawyers and in-house legal teams will better understand the likely cost of requests for information and the quantity of electronic data involved and should be in a position to leverage this knowledge in their favour when discussing the information gathering procedures with them.

Andy Lucas, partner in the Technology Law Group at Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP:

Even before the HMRC and the missing CD ROMS, information security has been creeping up the agenda of corporates and consumers alike. The laws and regulations do not seem to be acting as a deterrent to either the hackers to stop them attacking or those that hold data for their failure to keep it securely. Technology will become the universal panacea, with technology companies flooding the market with their hardware and software security solutions – not all of which will be effective. Boards will be urged by their shareholders to do something quick. Lawyers with real knowledge of the sector will therefore be at a premium. The safe prediction is that 2008 will not be without further major informational security lapses.

From Mathew Philips, Media, Communications and Technology Partner at Olswang:

It is inevitable that Youtube and other user generated content services will remain popular, but we will start to see more and more TV programmes and movies being provided online on a commercial basis. As choice increases, so will take-up, but consumers will continue to prefer free programming (even if ad-supported) over paid-for programming. Mass adoption of any online TV services (free or pay) – and true ‘in-home’ convergence – will be constrained by consumer concerns around DRM and (notwithstanding the increasing number of media streaming devices on the market) by the perception of online TV as a ‘lean forward’ experience.

From Pearse Ryan, Partner at Arthur Cox, Dublin:

From the perspective of an Irish law firm, my predictions for 2008 are:

1. Public sector consumers of IT to (hopefully) finally come out of their shell and start to release those projects which have been on hold for some time now. We have had difficulty with some of the larger public sector IT projects in recent years (many of which your author has had the pleasure of dealing with), causing public sector procurers to retreat into their shell. This cannot continue indefinitely.
2. A continuation of the trend we have seen in IT and BP outsourcing over the last number of years, namely a slowish development of the market, typically marked by one substantial deal per year. To date, the public sector has not jumped into the outsourcing pool and has just about dipped its toe into the water, which has had a constraining effect on the market generally. If the multi-national multi-jurisdictional outsourcings are taken out of the equation, the Irish outsourcing market has seen fairly modest growth over the last few years.
3. An increased emphasis on data protection issues, with the Data Protection Commissioner flexing his muscles and ever increasing media and public awareness of the importance of the security and integrity of personal data. We also foresee continued increases in instances of the DP legislation being used as a means of pre-litigation discovery.
4. A continuation of the slow but steady inroads made by open source software into the medium to large application development and service provision spheres. The public sector, in particular, has been slow to embrace open source.
5. An increase in the importance of computer forensics and, in particular, in the area of litigation. See the predictions made by Andy Harbison of Deloitte Ireland.
6. Generally, we get the impression that 2008 will be a year of steady-as-she-goes, as opposed to significant growth. With the slowdown in the economy generally and, in particular, a tightening of the supply of cheap money, the amount of M&A in the domestic IT sector is likely to be muted. To compensate for this, however, one area of growth for the IP/IT lawyer is the involvement of the third-level educational sector in R&D and collaboration with the private sector. It also has the benefit of being interesting work.

From Delia Venables, co-editor of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers & Law 2.0 (see and creator of one of the main independent legal websites in the UK at

I think that the two big topics for 2008 are Web 2.0 (Law 2.0) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 does not imply that technically there is a new sort of Internet, but rather that the character of the Internet is changing. People are now sharing their knowledge, experience and ideas on the Internet rather than just ‘tuning in’ to the ideas of the big shots. Whilst in ordinary life, Web 2.0 sites are mostly used for social networking, legal applications are starting to use the same methods but to rather different ends. There are already large numbers of blogs created by UK lawyers, with the ability to comment and develop discussions being a key part of these, a few law wikis, including crime, mental health and IP (and Richard Susskind’s ideal of a public law wiki is very much in many peoples’ mind), the first case law resources driven by Web 2.0 platforms (such as the Scottish CaseCheck), the first publisher’s Web 2.0 site (free so far!) CompanyLawForum from LexisNexis, many law firms using facilities built into social interaction sites such as Facebook to provide effective (free) communication within their own firms, Field Fisher Waterhouse and Lovells ‘setting up shop’ in various ways within Second Life – and the list goes on. During 2008, these applications will multiply, mature and become widely accepted.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service is just one of several words and phrases associated with the same idea – that the software you use can belong to someone else and can run on computers somewhere else. You do not pay to own the software but rather to use it, over the Internet. This is cheaper for the user initially, requiring little or no capital investment although the cost of using the software can be quite substantial on an ongoing basis. However, the need for IT staff and expertise can be greatly reduced or eliminated entirely, since upgrades and ‘patches’ are installed by the SaaS provider and the need for computers in-house can also be greatly reduced. Another advantage, for smaller firms in particular, is that they can use the same software as their larger competitors without the major up-front and ongoing costs they would have had to absorb in the past and anyone running a ‘virtual firm’ or ‘virtual chambers’ will certainly be using SaaS in one way or another. Legal software already available in this way comes from Quill, Pracctice, SOS, Axxia, Meridian, Tricostar, ConveyanceLink and Easyconvey, whilst other companies, such as Nasstar, Chambers Technology Support, and 7global are offering software from a variety of suppliers, including legal suppliers, essentially as ‘middlemen’. These applications too will multiply and mature in the next year.


For instalments 1 and 2, click here and here.  For the fourth set, click here.