Predictions 2012: Technology and Strategies for Lawyers

January 3, 2012

From Jan Durant, IT Director at Lewis Silkin LLP

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! 

From Charles Christian, Editor of Legal Technology Insider and the Orange Rag blog and widely recognised opinion former in legal technology

The whole BYOD (bring – or buy – your own device) plus Consumerisation trend for office technology will become unstoppable within law firms during 2012 with the result that both law firm IT departments and legal software vendors will increasingly be having to adapt their plans to accommodate the latest devices. Four factors will drive this: the rise and rise of the iPad – there’s one, possibly two new models due out in the spring; the decline of the Blackberry platform – who 12 months ago would have predicted they would totally lose the plot; the growing number of Generation X and Y people rising up through law firm management as the Baby Boomers fall off their perches; and a short-sighted belief by law firm partners that BYOD is a cheap option. Another exciting year in fact! 

From Jon Bloor, head of business law at Lees Solicitors LLP on the Wirral; Jon also writes about law, legal technology and social media at

2012 will be the year when tablet users start to question Microsoft Word as the standard lawyer’s writing tool.

Tablets means that lawyers end up using text editing apps as a workaround pending an app version of MS Word (don’t hold your breath!).

As well as being more elegant and easier to use, these impose a firewall between two conflated processes which should be separate: capturing text, and formatting documents.

IT departments will see the first demands from lawyers to use apps like Byline & WriteMonkey as their everyday writing tools, with MS Word reserved for the ‘heavy lifting’ of contract drafting. 

From Arlene Adams, Co-Founder and CEO of Peppermint Technology 

Business Predictions 

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. 

Technology Predictions 

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. 

From Tom Hiskey, co-founder of the company behind online probate solution The Probate Wizard 

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.  

From Joe Reevy, Director at Words4Business and Legal RSS 

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. 

From David Gilroy, Sales & Marketing Director at Conscious Solutions Limited: 

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. 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!!).  

From Alastair Morrison, Strathclyde University

The ‘reprieved’ cheque will take on a new lease of life and last for another hundred years as our faith in the security of online transactions evaporates completely!
Only joking but, as we all know, fundamental to the proper working of much of our lives is trust. For example, the ongoing financial turmoil is testament to how commerce suffers when confidence is lacking. More particularly, e-commerce is largely built on the trust we have in our secure – SSL – connections. If we loose faith in the ‘closed padlock’ e-commerce and business in general will suffer.
The bad news is that SSL, Certificate Authorities (CAs), in fact the whole security infrastructure on which our e-commerce world is based and in which we have somewhat blind faith has been and continues to be compromised. Incidents over recent years demonstrate that we cannot always be sure that the site with which we are transacting is what it claims to be, or that what we believe to be an encrypted link cannot in fact be monitored.
To give just one example from this year, hackers broke into the servers of a reseller of Comodo (one of the world’s most widely used certificate authorities) and forged certificates for Gmail, Skype, Hotmail, Yahoo and Mozilla. It took two, seven and eight days for the counterfeits to be blacklisted by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and MS IE respectively. The vulnerability of users of those browsers in the interim will be apparent to us all.
Expect to see more such incidents in 2012 (especially as online crime is becoming ever more sophisticated and well resourced) and the issue to become much more widely and prominently discussed. Expect also to see public concern increase in the coming year when the reporting moves from the tech press to the mainstream media. This is as it should be, as we should all be concerned when we consider the reliance that banks, credit card companies, large and small businesses, not to mention us all as individuals, place on the system. Furthermore, expect to see strenuous efforts being made to overhaul the system of trust by Google, Amazon and all the other players who have so much to lose if online transacting declines.
The good news is that solutions are already being proposed and discussed. But don’t hold your breath. Finding agreement among the affected browser makers, web site operators, CAs and end users is a major challenge; none of these parties wants any disruption to ‘business as usual’. However, a few cases of major financial loss should focus the minds of all these parties and cause them to redouble their efforts, for they certainly cannot afford to take the risk that people start to turn away from e-business; however unlikely they, you, or I think it is that this could ever happen!




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