Predictions 2013, and beyond: Part 5, Word Dealers

December 6, 2012

{i} From {b}Joanna Goodman MBA{/b} – freelance writer for The Law Society Gazette, Legal IT Professionals, LSN Briefing, Raconteur Media/The Times, The Lawyer Business Technology Guide, City A.M. {/i}

{b}2013: Liberalisation, leverage and engagement {/b}

BYOD (bring your own device) caught on in 2012 and lawyers love their iPads. The jury is out on the Surface at least until the professional version is released. 2013 will see more flexibility over how and where people access information, communicate and collaborate – the device itself becomes less important.

CIOs are looking to streamline and leverage the technology and licenses they already have rather than purchase more, supporting national and international mergers. They are making technology more intuitive to reduce IT training and further encourage user engagement – already boosted by BYOD – through social media and gamification. There will be continued focus on client-facing IT, which might include some big data analysis.

2012 has seen consolidation in the supplier market. This will lead to more bundling offers to drive brand loyalty – ie suppliers offering a one-stop shop – but it also leaves room for innovation by niche suppliers.

{b}2023: Ultra-mobility and the blurring of boundaries{/b}

The demise of the deskphone and potentially the landline. Fewer business support professionals as outsourcing, online services, and automated processes will replace many roles. Online/mobile video links will probably be the de facto means of business communication. Video conferences via IP TV wherever you are and ultra-mobile collaboration will further blur work-life balance.

It’s impossible to predict what devices people will be using, as this depends on what is invented and what catches on – Google goggles, bendy phones (bendy tablets)?

Social media will be just another part of routine working practices. There may be more ways of using big data. Regulation and compliance will still be big issues as will security as globalisation of services – including legal services – continues, driven by emerging markets.

Cloud will be the de facto means of delivery as today’s challenges will have been addressed. CIOs will be managing a portfolio of outsourced services and delivering very few direct services.

Commercialisation and consumerisation will mean that within ten years legal technology will have caught up with that of other sophisticated commercial organisations, making it harder to forecast its future. So I am not attempting to predict 2053.

{i}From {b}Katherine Eyres{/b}, Lexis®PSL IP&IT and the team there (follow us on Twitter){/i}

Here are a few of LexisNexis’ predictions for what you are likely to see more of in the IT law/legal IT stratosphere in the short and medium term, and a couple of futuristic cloud castles.

See the download panel (right) for the Lexis Timeline graphic in pdf format.


Specialist legal apps – Traditional advice and legal update brochures are more frequently replaced by specialist apps to deliver content.

Legal sector business models and service delivery – Greater innovation in lawyers’ business models, service delivery and revenue streams. Eg, tech incubators/start-up accelerators to ‘grow your own’ clients and more partnering with other experts, ie accountants, business analysts, and software developers.

BYOD – BYOD arrangements spike in popularity (but tapering off when businesses realise this is not always cheaper overall).

Hybrid cloud – Use of hybrid clouds gain popularity as an ‘on-demand’ solution for cloud bursting and load balancing. Initial uptake is likely to be mainly for high performance apps that are non-critical and do not handle sensitive information.

Cookies law enforcement – The ICO continues to audit compliance by organisations with cookies laws and targets (seriously) non-compliant websites for enforcement action. Additional EU member states reluctantly fall into line on cookies law compliance.

Facial recognition technology (FRT) – FRT generates a flurry of data protection/mistaken identity/‘face theft’/‘my spouse has found out I wasn’t where I said I was’ cases. Business is good for privacy litigators and divorce lawyers (and plastic surgeons!)

Augmented reality/experiential technology – Interesting developments are made concerning the use of functional AR to build practical and enterprise software. Next stage, a virtual lawyer…?!

3D printing – 3D printing enables faster lead times from idea to prototype to full scale production of products.

{b}In the medium term, 2023 {/b}

Further expansion of tech sector into emerging markets, creating a ‘tech marketplace’ in former developing countries. Made possible by non-traditional capital raising models such as crowdfunding and microfinance.

Software automation tools are widely used to accurately forecast legal costs, likelihood of success in litigation etc. More cases settle early. Litigators become software designers.

Results of widespread studies conducted over the previous 10 years into the antisocial side effects of technology are published. This research is used to develop future technology that acts as a social enabler. Games and social media are regulated under a ‘sociability’ testing and ratings regime.

Greentech is used to actively transform public spaces into interactive and sustainable centres for bringing about urban and social change. Such centres are inhabited by tech ‘organisms’ made from interactive materials that use intelligent sensors to absorb data and then responsively create practical solutions for the ‘real world’.

{b}In the long term, 2053 {/b}

3-D printed ‘pocket lawyer’ launches (relevant patents bought by Google/Apple info-tech superpower ‘G-Apple’).

Vintage tech (ie iPhone 5s, eReaders, paper-based marketing and analysis of very small data sets) becomes briefly trendy again.

{i}From {b}Joe Reevy BA MSc FCA CTA MAE{/b}, Director, Best Practice Online Ltd:{/i}


Many firms that have mobile offerings will see more than 50% of their web traffic coming from mobile devices, as average use of mobile passes a third of all site visits. Firms will start to run direct to mobile information services instead of e-mail.


Direct to mobile communications will be the norm for communication as e-mail becomes progressively more unusable. The decline in popularity of social networking will have begun: ‘regulated’ or ‘selected’ affinity groups will be in the ascendancy.


Social networking will be dead so long ago that people will have forgotten what it was and why investors thought it would be valuable. People will rediscover the art of conversation.

{i}From {b}Laurence Eastham{/b}, Editor of Computers & Law{/i}

{b}In 2013{/b}

Data protection: Two factors will shift the wind on data protection reform. First, a major holder of personal data within the EU – perhaps a big player in e-commerce – will be forced to admit (after the intervention of a whistleblower) that they have covered up data losses affecting millions including a vast number of UK citizens. That and a series of similar revelations will push the issue back into public consciousness. As a result, data security confidence will be second only to price when making online purchase choices – and that means that even more money will be spent on real security. Secondly, the refusal of numerous bodies to accept the Do Not Track option in new Internet browsers on the grounds that it interferes with a basic constitutional/ECHR right to market will meet with profound derision. Hugh Grant will get involved. One knock-on effect will be that the previous refusal to enforce the cookie laws effectively will come under Parliamentary scrutiny. There will be low-profile resignations from the ICO as a result. All this will give a fair wind to the data protection reform package which will move forward – a little. But this bandwagon will move on, as they do, and the status quo (basically the payment of lip service to the right to data privacy and purported ‘prioritisation’ of security) will be restored before 2015.

Cloud computing: At some point during the year, people (and I am thinking mainly of PR and marketing people) will get bored with claiming that the fact that a service is ‘in the Cloud’ makes it exciting and innovative.

Windows 8: This will be the first Windows update to make a wide range of people wonder whether {i}any{/i} flavour of Windows is still right for them. The Android market has opened people’s minds and open source will very slowly cease to be the preserve of experts and the ‘brave’. Of course, Apple users are different when it comes to open minds.

Internet and free speech: I see no reason to suppose that common sense will descend upon us in 2013. The {Twitter bomb joke trial:} and {{i}Smith v Trafford Housing{/i}:} show that there is no limit to the stupidity of those making the initial judgements on when action is required and when comments can just be ignored. And yet the meanness of a significant proportion of the online comments in most discussion fora is a source of near despair for anyone with half a soul and anger cannot always be repressed. It follows that lame and nasty jokes about the Kate and Will baby and/or a Royal death will require Chris Grayling to build more prisons. Employers will be driven (even by SCL members) to impose social media policies that are so restrictive that even the Spanish Inquisition would blush. That will leave wise employees unwilling to express any opinion about anything at all unless cloaked in layers of anonymity; unwise employees will be drawing benefit.

Leveson: The draft Bill will finally emerge. The DCMS will make it clear that the newspaper industry had no hand in drafting what appear to be extremely convoluted proposals, which include a regime for the control of online publications, including this blog, by a committee of retired editors of national newspapers. DCMS credibility on this claim will receive a knock when it is pointed out that schedule 3 to the Bill consists solely of a topless picture of Chloe from Billericay.

{b}2023 – 2053{/b}

IT law: The decade until 2023 and the decades beyond will see a shift from a US-centred Internet, and US/Euro focused regulation. It is not merely a recognition of changes in economic power but a recognition of the extent of globalisation. It is inevitable that IT will lead the way because nothing is more readily transported over huge distances than IT ‘goods’ and services, and those huge distances will be the one barrier to a true global economy. Those shifts will inevitably affect IT law as the free Internet philosophy that underpins much Net law is essentially a US construct (albeit a sometimes illusory construct). Restriction, in many forms, will be deemed acceptable. There will be a rush, verging on a scramble, to understand Chinese law principles as these will begin to dominate in IT law.

Legal services: Automated online legal services will have taken off and will dominate the consumer market and the market for SMEs. Indeed, most of the rump of that market will be catered for by {i}non-automated{/i} online services, leaving the scrapings at the bottom of the bowl for the few local lawyers that remain. On the bright side, those lawyers still earning a living from bespoke advice will be supplying it from their summerhouses (aka sheds) and will travel only socially.

Legal training: Since there is very little law that cannot be taught online, fewer and fewer people will choose to saddle themselves with massive debt by going to ‘uni’ just so that they can party for three years. The rich and famous universities will survive very nicely, providing for many thousands of extra students who are in fact living with Mum and Dad; law departments in other institutions will begin to struggle and a number will close. Since it is in the nature of IT lawyers to ride the innovation wave, academic IT lawyers will be lauded for their enterprise, and will hit the buffers first.

Law publishing: By 2023, the law book will be like the iPad is now, eating up a disproportionate amount of production costs but creating little revenue. Publishers will feel bound to take account of the section of the market that insists on reading books (it’s a status thing), though they will find it a bit of a pain to have to do so. But, at some point in these decades, the task of agglomerating content in a sensible way so as to provide insight, which is one element in the publishing role, will cease to be a function of people and become a pure software/machine function. Of course, Google is most of the way there now and Autonomy and Recommind may be even nearer that destination. Since one of the other major elements of legal publishing – the instigation of content creation – is scarcely necessary in the web age (where it is tricky to stop people writing), we are looking at more hard times for employees. The one aspect of the Susskind paradigm that I have always been least convinced by, though I do largely subscribe to his analysis, is the role for legal information engineers. I think such a role (and there will not be that many of them) is at best transitional; so that may be a cul-de-sac best avoided if you are planning your career.

UK constitution: Scotland will vote for independence – the issue swung by a soundly based fear that the UK as a whole will soon vote to leave the EU. Once the English realise that the Scots will usurp their place in the EU if they go, there will be a major shift of opinion as membership will suddenly seem much more attractive. The referendum will be a vote to stay in. Confusion will reign.

{b}2053 and beyond{/b}

I think that advances in genuine artificial intelligence and a revolution in communication norms will lead to a shift to a form of legal advice provision that will be truly different. Notwithstanding some current trends to the contrary, I do not think that being ‘a lawyer’ will be a job by 2053 for all but a really tiny minority. A wider skill set that includes some understanding of law will be necessary to survive. Perhaps, on reflection, that last sentence is really a prediction for 2013!