2012 Predictions 3: Technology Teasers

December 1, 2011

{b}From Jan Durant, IT Director at Lewis Silkin LLP{/b}

2012 will be about getting more out of our existing technology and working smarter. For me this means workflows. There will be internally used systems such as client/matter inception and leavers and joiners, but we will also be examining in what areas of legal services we can leverage workflow tools and document assembly to assist the lawyers in delivering what they do.
Also 2012 will be big in e-filing – there are some great mature products out there. We’ve all been trying for years to get our people to save e-mails into our document management systems and they mostly won’t. This is because they love Outlook so we’re in the process of deploying something which sits in Outlook, looks like Outlook but is in fact its own database and which is infinitely more scalable than Outlook. I would put money on ‘file as you go’ usage spreading this year (we assessed three systems and chose KnowledgeMill).
And watch out for intelligent FAST search products – can’t say what I’m looking at right now, but there’s some software I’ve spied, the possibilities for which are really exciting!

{b}From Arlene Adams, Co-Founder and CEO of Peppermint Technology, the first new major entrant to the UK legal technology market in over a decade{/b}

{i}Business Predictions{/i}

1. A small number of big new entrants will enter the market with very disruptive business models, enabled by technology
2. Free content will play a large role in new business models. Providers will use content to attract and acquire new customers
3. Customer loyalty levels will reduce and clients will increasingly shop around. The market will become far more competitive

{i}Technology Predictions{/i}

1. There will a surge of investment in CRM technology and marketing resource as firms try to compete in the market
2. Successful and growing firms will embrace the internet as a key channel for client engagement especially for matter tracking and client information access
3. Cloud computing will not live up to the hype. There will be a realisation that ‘pure cloud’ is not mature enough for the legal market. We will see the emergence of ‘private clouds’ as a result.
{b}From Tom Hiskey, co-founder of the company behind {online probate solution The Probate Wizard: http://www.thelawwizard.com/} {/b}

There is forever talk of new and innovative legal service providers offering exciting cloud-based systems for the public, lawyers and other professionals. So far, such offerings have appeared in dribs and drabs, and have yet to well-and-truly enter the consciousness of the public or of lawyers. With announcements from US online behemoths Legal Zoom and Google-backed Rocket Lawyer of plans to enter the UK market in 2012, this looks set to change.
In tandem, big names in the UK (AA, Saga, Co-op, etc) will finally get their act together and provide something new and (hopefully) exciting. Thanks in part to the Legal Services Act, they’ll use technology to improve the way they connect to clients, offering consumers new and easier ways to conduct legal tasks over the Internet.
In short, I predict that 2012 will be the year that technology and online legal solutions finally come to the fore.

{b}From Joe Reevy, Director at {Words4Business: www.words4business.com} and {Legal RSS: http://www.legalrss.co.uk}{/b}

1. The firms that approach social media in an unstructured and untargeted way will live to regret it as lost time and possible reputational/brand drift bite.
2. Law firms will come to understand that LinkedIn groups of lawyers are not where their prospects are and start to get involved in the right groups!
3. Firms that do not have ‘hand-held ready’ web presences (compatible sites and apps) will lose ground to those that do.
4. E-newsletters will continue to be the pre-eminently successful marketing tool for law firms: but will be less dominant than before losing ground to apps.
5. More firms will start to unspin the maths behind a lot of SEO claims and realise how unrealistic they are.

{b}From David Gilroy, Sales & Marketing Director at Conscious Solutions Limited: www.conscious.co.uk{/b}

Facebook will continue to rule the consumer sector. Google+ will not close but will not gain on Facebook. CRM for law firms will be the year’s hot topic….they {i}have{/i} to do something to compete with the automation that the big brands will bring to the sector. Sharepoint will {i}not{/i} rule, social intranet products will. We will see the first floatation of Big Law. QualitySolicitors.com will throw away their cartoon character and none of the other ‘franchise systems’ will make much impact on them in 2012. Mobile websites will be big. Apps might be bigger. The EU cookie legislation will go away (somehow!!).