Predictions 2014: Batch 1

November 29, 2013

{b}Kit Burden, Partner and Head of Technology Sector, DLA Piper UK LLP {/b}

Generation Y (or should that be Z?) begins to question the increasingly aggressive approach to data protection, at a time when social data is being shared on an ever freer basis. More questions are asked about the basis for Cloud Contracting and the balance of risk and reward contained therein. Outsourcing continues unabated but with more of a cloud based back-end, with resulting impacts on the kind of “typical” contract terms to be contained in the outsourcing agreements.

{b}Jan Durant, Director of IT & Operations, Lewis Silkin LLP{/b}

It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict that BYOD would cause all us smug IT Directors a whole heap of work in 2013 – the game is up – we’ve had it too easy for too long just upgrading to the newest BlackBerry when contract renewal time came. We went the COPE route (Corporately Owned Personally Enabled) and offered a choice of three smartphones (there are issues otherwise with who owns the data) though we do secure people’s own devices such as iPads. I loved the latest Surface I trialled in November until I put it in my bag and carried it around for a day – sorry Microsoft it’s a fail for me – why did you make it so heavy?

More and more law firms will outsource their data centres and infrastructure – there is no good reason for not doing this – but mostly it is more cost-effective. Private cloud provider sales people you should put the order in for that Ferrari now!

Microsoft Dynamics is now mature and LexisNexis’s announcement last year that they are writing a practice management system on this platform must have been a real shaker-upper for the incumbent vendors – looking forward to hearing how the first live site gets on. And I wonder who will be next to do something whizzy on it?

And hallellujah to Google and Microsoft blocking illegal searches – but we need ALL search engines to do this, our potential cyber criminals do know about other search engines folks and they’re using peer to peer networks anyway – I see a lot more activity in 2014 around internet safety.

{b}Beverley Flynn, Partner, Stevens & Bolton LLP{/b}

Transferability and biometrics make for an interesting combination -I predict the increased use of biometrics and the use of data profiling will increase the need for more focus on data protection. This results from more day-to-day common usage; such as a thumb print for mobile phones; Google Glass or even an advertisement which changes as you wait in line at the check-out in store as the screen analyses age, profile and gender and allocates advertisements accordingly.

Last year I predicted we would have to consider if our avatars have separate data subject access rights but in practice this has already translated into practical issues such that people now consider to whom to leave their ‘second life rights’, such as virtual life characters or other items earned via gaming or similar sites, in a will. The issue of transferability of rights, both in this context and arising from the recent EU UsedSoft case (where it was argued that second-hand software and the unexpired rights to a perpetual licence for software downloaded on the Internet can be transferable), may well mean that transferability of rights become more open to legal scrutiny.

{b}Paul Gershlick, Partner, Commercial / IP / IT, Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP{/b}

There will continue to be increased pressure on NHS budgets and this will provide opportunities for technological solutions (whether in databases, telehealth or IT that enables treatment away from hospitals and at a time and place of the patient’s choosing). There will also be continued convergence in the healthcare sector that involves IT converging with other solutions to provide more innovative and advanced treatments. Meanwhile, the ICO will continue its data protection crusade against bodies within the NHS and issue further fines for misdemeanours, which will in turn throw doubt on whether to trust the technological solutions that can help the taxpayer save money.

{b}Andrew Haslam, Allvision, independent litigation support consultants{/b}

We have been asked to look back over the last three years to rate ourselves on prediction effectiveness, a sort of Cassandra scale, though I hope some of us are fated to be believed. I’d claim an average of a 5/10, with 10/10 for some visions and 0/10 for others, particular the confident claim of how the Co-op Legal Services was going to stride like a colossus across the legal marketplace. I still think the concept of ABS (as exemplified by other more quieter renditions of the concept) poses a significant disruptive threat to law firms, but didn’t take into consideration the impact of bad bank debt, nor the total lack of forward planning by CLS in terms of dealing with the Jackson reforms.

But that does lead nicely into the winner’s section, where the take up of predictive coding and (almost an 11/10) the impact of the Jackson reforms on all things legal, and not just eDisclosure, have been truly significant. Having been part of a working party that produced an eDisclosure protocol for the Technology and Construction Court that will come into effect from 1 January 2014, I think that one is definitely a game changer and is here to stay.

What else for the forthcoming year?

After several years of build-up there will be an ‘overnight’ success in terms of a solution that enables lawyers to quickly and easily deal with client’s electronic information at their desktop, my often quoted ‘I just want to read the emails’ requirement. Several products/solutions are emerging and I think (though a slow burner) this one will run and run.
Building on the Jackson changes and particularly the whole raft of issues swirling around the Form H budgeting process, I believe that we will start to see the growth of a more formal Legal Project Management approach. Lawyers will be dragged (kicking and screaming) into the world of initial work templates; leading into estimates, monitoring budgets, analysis of the end costs, feeding back around into the template. The software to assist in costs budgeting and monitoring is there, the skills to assess costs are there, the imperative to derive (and stick to) a budget is there, the future is here and will not be ignored.

{b}Tom Hiskey, co-founder of The Law Wizard,{/b}

I predict some vertical vs horizontal sparring in 2014. In other words, we will begin to see how volume powerhouses specialising in one area of legal services (they are the ‘vertical’) will fit alongside QualitySolicitors-esque groups of law firms operating in many areas. I suspect we will see greater market share achieved by both, leaving some independent firms further behind (plus more closures and mergers).

As for IT, I can’t wait for 2014! Consumers have come to expect slick, elegant online systems in other walks of life, such as shopping – we will see more of this in the legal sector. At least for some law firms and for some areas of law, consumers will have a crystal clear choice of services (vital) with the right online options. The process will be smooth, comfortable and intuitive, and, as a result, law firms will see a significant increase in revenue via online systems. Consumers may even begin to enjoy instructing a lawyer. In fact, why not end on that bomb shell? In 2014, thanks to technology, instructing a law firm will be an enjoyable experience.

{b}Stewart James, Legal Consultant to the Cranfield University Cyber Security Physical Research Laboratory{/b}

It is good to see that there has been an increase in the volume and scale of public sector technology projects this year. Some of these are pilot projects for larger deals to follow, so my prediction for 2014 is that we will continue to see more of these projects and the preparation of other groundwork, but that the bigger public sector deals will not start until after the election in 2015. However, the departure of some of the larger firms from the market has left it open for a new order to emerge and win some very profitable work.

Information security is also starting to get the recognition it deserves, though law firms are still concentrating on post-event support, like insurance and litigation, and not its potential for a wide range of multi-disciplinary commercial services. Information security is part of a growing body of information law that pervades all industries and all sectors.

I am surprised, however, that there hasn’t been a major data breach from a UK law firm yet; it’s happened in other jurisdictions. For example, seven law firms were hacked in Canada in September 2010, with a loss of information relating to major M&A transactions and high profile litigation. Law firms are seen as a soft target and have access to the highly sensitive information of their clients. However, with the UK being home to so many financial organisations, the lack of a major episode may just be a reflection of the length of time required to conduct an APT-style hack, which can be measured in months and years.

{b}Daniel Pollick, Director of Business Infrastructure, Chief Information Officer, DLA Piper UK LLP{/b}

1. The wifi world and the sim-based world start to merge.
2. 2014 will be the year of ‘peak e-mail’ in law firms. Thereafter, its role as a communications tool (as distinct from its role as a transportation tool) will begin to decline.
3. The desk phone (and the home phone) will begin gathering dust, and voicemail will start to feel very old-fashioned.
4. Facebook’s decline amongst teens will spread to the old(er), and the microblog/communications offerings will become the paradigm for Social Network 2.0.
5. Microsoft or Google will buy Blackberry (please?!)

{i}Things that surprised me in 2013{/i}

1. The decline of Blackberry. How did they play their hand so badly? Hubris.
2. People being shocked and surprised by what Edward Snowden revealed. Did anyone seriously think that governments WEREN’T looking?
3. Apple’s lack of innovation. Apple used to brag that they sold their products on the experience not the spec. Now they market like PC makers of old – it’s all about processor speed and screen resolution.
4. 4G. Until you’ve experienced 50Mb download speeds on a tablet when out and about, you don’t realize how transformative it is. Does fixed residential broadband even have a future?

{b}Joe Reevy, Director, Best Practice Online Ltd:{/b}

As firms start growing again and lateral hires increase, the risks of allowing uncontrolled social networking – in terms of who owns the goodwill for the investment in professional staff time – will become painfully apparent to some firms.

Almost every firm that isn’t already in the social networking space will be: mainly just talking to one another. In the meantime, many firms there will wonder why the ROI seems to be falling continuously. (ie it will be a repeat of the SEO scenario for those who don’t do it well). The firms that employ professionally-trained marketers, not fee-earners turned marketers will increase the ‘marketing gap’ between their firms and others.

Web sites will become smaller and more interactive: microsites targeting industries and work types will increase fast and these in turn will lead to much more use of mobile (up in 2013 from 2 of our clients to more than 30).


My biggest surprise in recent years is that law firm haven’t yet ‘got’ the power of mobile platforms, which I would expect to become the dominant way of publicising mid-to lower level vacancies in significant firms within the next three years with the leadership coming from the top 100.

Similarly, firms haven’t got the concept of content sharing/leveraging the brand values of those close to them and their target client base. This is so simple and so obvious that I am astonished it hasn’t become commonplace already. A huge surprise.

{i}From Left Field {/i}

On a lighter note: LinkedIn will reduce the lower age limit for membership from 14 to 6 and the expertise claimed in profiles will become even more OTT. Everyone will receive 100 endorsements as soon as they join.

{b}John Salmon, Partner, Sector Head, Financial Services, Pinsent Masons LLP{/b}

{i}Big data, the biggest and most surprising tech trend{/i}

Four trends have defined B2B technology over the last few years – cloud computing, mobile, social and big data. Cloud we could see coming a mile away, with SaaS agreements and similar concepts becoming mainstream as far back as the arrival date of in 1999 and service bureaus already in operation even many decades before then. Social media pre-empted the social enterprise, so we could easily predict the emergence of collaborative technology before it took hold. It was only time and infrastructure that delayed mobile. No surprises there.

The most surprising development then over the last three years or so must be big data. But the surprise has not necessarily been the development of big data technologies themselves or that the computing power that has enabled processing of structured and unstructured data in timeframes that make it worthwhile. The surprise may not even be the sheer volume at which data is rapidly increasing. For me, the surprise is how surprised or caught off guard businesses and lawmakers have been by the development.

Businesses are now telling us that they have insufficient skills within their organisations to deal with big data and many remain unclear as to how to maximise value from it.

Law makers and regulators have also failed to deal effectively with the big questions that big data raises and the disturbing implications that it creates, not just for business, but in the wider socio-economic context – data security, privacy, profiling, government access and manipulation of data, cross-organisational sharing arrangements and the implications of data accuracy and inaccuracy on decision making are all issues that concern every individual. 2014 must be the year to start answering these questions.

{b}Callum Sinclair, Partner, DLA Piper{/b}

Ok I think I did fine with last year’s predictions (feeling particularly bullish about my 2023/2053 foretellings…). Though I did at one stage predict that gesture-based computing would have us all flapping our hands about in front of our tech by now – maybe I just wish I was Tom Cruise.

Here goes for 2014:

• Large customer organisations will keep loving the idea of agile software development but executing it badly
• BT will quietly continue to roll out superfast broadband across the UK amid a panning from press and politicians for not rolling out to areas where in most cases it wouldn’t be sustainable
• The first few “smart watches” will start to hit UK shelves but they’ll be over-priced and look a bit naff (another Apple-Samsung slugfest anyone?)
• Xbox One and PS4 will gobble up the console market and this time there’ll be no Wii magic bullet for Nintendo
• LinkedIn will make a more aggressive play to monetise its offering, to the chagrin of its established users
• The insurance market will finally begin to understand cyber-security and offer insurance products companies want to buy

Until next year!

{b}Professor Peter Sommer, digital evidence and e-disclosure services: {/b}

Access to, and management of, evidence is likely to become more difficult. An increasing number of organisations are moving to cloud computing as a means of controlling costs and providing ubiquitous availability, but few cloud computing contracts detail what should happen when evidence is required for litigation and e-disclosure is required. The growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, allowing staff to use their own laptops, tablets and smart phones to access corporate facilities, create different problems – who has the right of access during litigation and how do you separate the private from the corporate?

Managing the evidential material once it is supplied is another set of problems – quantities, even in minor cases, can be enormous and the conventional forensic analysis tools, based on PCs, are struggling to cope.