Predictions 2007

January 2, 2007

From Mark Holford, Director of Service, Thomas Miller & Co Ltd


I am surprised that not one person seems to have mentioned e-billing. My understanding is that a number of firms are already  providing bills in LEDES format (the XML standard for legal bills) to US clients coded in accordance with the UTBMS codes (ABA standard coding system for matters). This year UK firms will also start delivering bills to UK clients. As highlighted recently in Legal Week, a number of banks are looking very seriously at this and we have announced a contract with DataCert, where we will receive our first e-bills in April from five firms of solicitors. I have little doubt that the next three years will see a steep rise in the number of matters electronically billed to clients. This will bring about significant change both to the biller and the billed as transparency impacts the quality of the billing, the way matters are billed and even possibly the way partners are rewarded.


From Pearse Ryan, Partner at Arthur Cox:


As we head into the new year, it is timely to first reflect on the year just past.  2006 was a busy year across the board in the Irish technology related market – from M&A activity, to traditional goods/services procurement, to what is still the new world of the virtual environment.  A pot-pouri of predictions for 2007 include:

• The market for IT related legal services will remain buoyant, although the days of staggering increases in client requirements seen at the early years of the century are behind us.
• Corporate activity in the IT sector in Ireland is expected to continue apace with 2007 likely to provide a new high-point for technology valuations.  2006 was a busy year for M&A activity, both for start-ups and in the established sector, and this level of activity looks set to continue.
• The public sector market was fairly quiet in 2006 and we believe will continue in this vein in 2007.  The reason for this relative quietness is largely due to two health sector IT projects which experienced difficulties and which have given rise to a new public sector emphasis on the structuring of major procurements, project management and requirements-based delivery.  These two projects, run by the Health Service Executive (the equivalent of the NHS), whom the writer represented in both projects, have had a profound effect on public sector procurement, with the net effect being a more tentative approach by public sector bodies to the market.  What we have seen is an elongation of the procurement process, which is marked by a number of new layers of internal public sector review, operating on a gatekeeper basis.  Overall, movement is towards a more holistic approach to procurement and project management, which will likely ultimately be reflected in the vesting of additional powers in an already existing agency or creation of a stand alone agency, quite likely similar to the OGC in the UK.
• E-procurement is likely to become an increasingly important procurement vehicle, both in the public and private sector.  It has been seen to work well, especially in the less complex and high volume procurements.  Unfortunately, from a lawyer’s perspective, its requirements are fairly limited.
• Data protection enforcement is likely to increase as the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has recently been provided with more investigative and enforcement resources.  We expect to see continued enforcement activity in the area and possibly judicial review of enforcement actions.  Further prosecutions in relation to e-mail and SMS spam are also expected.
• A Casino Regulation Committee recently presented its draft report to Government on the regulation of casinos, including online gaming.  The findings of this draft report have not yet been published.  It is expected that draft legislation may follow, providing for the strict regulation of casinos in Ireland.  This may extend to online casinos, in which case the legal activity in the area will greatly increase.  Online gambling has been an important area for provision of legal services over the last number of years. 
All in all, the year ahead looks likely to be a busy one, with IT-related M&A being the major growth area for the larger firms and with certain interesting IP issues arising from the continued development of the Internet, both from a recreational and business perspective.  In terms of traditional IT, the trend towards IT and business processing outsourcing will generally continue, although growth is likely to continue to be moderate, given that the public sector has yet to catch the outsourcing bug.  In the area of traditional public procurement, again, there is likely to be a reasonable amount of activity during the year, without any extraordinary increase.  All in all a busy year ahead!

From Peter Birley, Director of IT, Browne Jacobson (


With an ongoing background of change continuing in 2007, the Legal Services Bill adds additional fuel to the fire. This will cause firms to look at themselves perhaps in more detail than they have done before. One of the things coming out of the reviews will be the drive for efficiency and, in order to achieve that, my prediction for 2007 will be that more firms will use Business Process Improvement methodologies to look at and change the way they work.

From a technology point of view, and by way of supporting Process Improvement, we will see greater use of Microsoft SharePoint as the delivery vehicle for process status, particularly with the new features in the 2007 version. Working with SharePoint will be more workflow applications that will automate the process improvement changes identified and these will come from vendors offering applications which offer cost effective solutions and will allow automated process and integration with existing applications.

From Paul Longhurst, Business Consultant at 3Kites Consulting Limited: (

In terms of general trends, I don’t foresee 2007 being a year for major software acquisitions but rather one of consolidation around existing investments. I base this view on the type of enquiries which 3Kites have been receiving, and think that it will be evident in those projects where we are engaged to consider tighter integration across a number of existing applications. The inception and closure processes are likely to take a more prominent and formalised role here, allowing those firms that adopt such an approach to benefit from greater consistency in the way that they work with matters. This, in turn, will enable estimates for time and costs to become more accurate, allowing compliance in an increasingly regulated world, and providing improvements to the service that clients receive.


One particular area that I predict will become a focus for firms is Knowhow, with many of the promises of earlier solutions finally seeing the light of day through new or updated applications. As such, this is one area where I can see further investment. Firms such as Autonomy may make the wholesale inroads into legal that they have threatened for some time, whilst other more legal-specific players such as Recommind & Solcara could also benefit. A good outside bet here is iBox from Interse – this product comes at Knowhow from a different angle by providing a firm-wide model of information based on an aggregated metadata index that can link applications without the need for additional plumbing … which is sort of where I came in.

One potential fly in the ointment is risk/compliance, which is an important area but one which needs careful consideration to mitigate its impact on other solutions.
My last forecast – I suspect that, with the advances in networking & security, a hosted IT model will have become a realistic option for small and medium firms by the end of the year.


From Shalini Agarwal of ALMT Legal:


The knowledge processing outsourcing (KPO) will ride the wave of global business reorganisation and continue to keep Indian outsourcing at the forefront, despite the many ups and downs faced by the BPO industry over the past year. While consolidation within the Indian KPO industry is expected, alliances and relationships may also emerge on the international scene. The Indian KPO sector will be pushed to retain its cost arbitrage and upgrade its regulatory environment.


Against the backdrop of this stir in the Indian KPO sector, regulators are all set to step up the issues concerning data security and privacy in India. The government will very soon make amendments to the existing laws to address the issue of data protection, data security and privacy that have been long discussed and remain pending.


From Bill Jones, Partner – Outsourcing, Technology and Trade, Wragge & Co ( and Chair of SCL

My first prediction (which might be regarded as optimistic) is that, as outsourcing matures as a business model, the use of lawyers as part of the contract letting process will become more intelligent. The statistics show that a large number of contracts will come up for renewal over the next 12 to 18 months, significantly increasing the proportion of the customer side population who have let contracts of this type previously and who should be keen to learn from past mistakes.  A degree of commoditisation should occur and, if experience is put to good use, lawyers will be instructed earlier in the process, will be given a greater role in project management, and will be listened to more in terms of the key issues in such contracts as a whole – in particular the interaction between the front end of the contract and the many schedules attached to it.  Lawyers might not be best placed to control the whole process but they have huge experience of how and why these arrangements go wrong – clients who are keen to improve their performance in second generation contracts ought to seek more not less guidance from them.
My second prediction is that consumer awareness of data protection and privacy issues will continue to grow and force more businesses to make the storing, managing, and sharing of personal data a corporate risk management issue of some significance rather than something to which lip-service is paid.  The main risk for businesses, whether consumers or suppliers of IT services, is reputational damage.  It  would only take one or two new major incidents involving large numbers of consumers to greatly increase public sensitivity to this broad area, where consumers currently feel little sense of control.  On the positive side the proper management of personal data will be seen by the best companies as an opportunity to demonstrate their consumer-centric focus, rather than as a threat.
My third prediction is that the use of social computing in business will expand the population of early adopters who are keen to engage ‘the wisdom of crowds’ in capturing and creatively managing the knowledge base of organisations.   Capturing the knowhow that resides in organisations, particularly knowledge based ones such as legal services, remains a real challenge – how can we more effectively capture the knowledge that accrues with each matter so that relevant learning is disseminated, and readily accessible and available when needed?  Technology is bound to be at the heart of this process, but to many lawyers it still feels like a rather sterile process which starts and ends with a precedent list.   I don’t seem to be alone in believing that tools from social computing such as wikis and blogs will become more widely used as ways of encouraging the involvement of a much wider set of individuals in capturing and sharing know-how. 

From Eduardo Ustaran, Partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse:

In the data protection world, 2007 is going to be the year of ‘personal data’ because everyone is going to have a go at defining this term. The Article 29 Working Party will issue its much awaited paper on the meaning of personal data, which will no doubt cause a little revolution in data protection circles as it will make people realise that this term goes much further than many think. As part of this process, those in the UK who follow the Durant decision to the letter will have to return to earth with us data protection labourers.

Internationally, we will hear a lot of legislative noises coming from the USA, and possibly India and other data processing centres, but we are unlikely to see any real action. The unstoppable force of outsourcing will continue to make business decision makers take data protection seriously and the role of privacy officer will become more pervasive and influential than ever.

Data protection regulators will emphasise their dual focus on enforcement and education. Unscrupulous direct marketers and those who completely disregard their privacy management duties will be the main targets of enforcement actions. At the same time, regulators will work hard to make data protection more relevant for non-specialists.

Finally, whilst security breaches will continue to embarrass some household names, several companies will demonstrate their privacy leadership by seeking and obtaining the Holy Grail of the data protection world: a BCR approval.

From Paul Heritage-Redpath, Solicitor, Lexcel Consultant and Project Manager with CS Group

Knowledge management will finally have its day in the form of low-cost internal wikis.
Fee earners at court will take out their Windows Mobile 5 mobile, dictate over the telephone to a typing bureau service, have their draft order emailed back for review in Pocket Word minutes later and then email that order to the court office for sealing – perhaps!
In fact, e-filing at court will remain the next great challenge; we have already seen quiet but surprising progress with money and now possession claims online. Notwithstanding the lack of budget, more will be done in this area by the Courts Service to progress electronic disclosure in litigation.
As cheques go the way of the typewriter, law firms of all sizes will finally catch up with other service industries in offering clients payment by credit or debit card or monthly direct debit as the default option – and their back office accounting systems will finally catch up too by catering for these out of the box.
Just as fee earners wouldn’t drive a car without a speedo, they will no longer get behind a desk without facing a digital dashboard giving a balanced scorecard of KPIs.
None but the brave will upgrade to Vista in the first 3 quarters of 2007.

From Nick Holmes, Publishing consultant specialising in the UK legal sector and Managing Director of infolaw.

I offer just this one prediction for 2007, as I believe it will eclipse all others.
With Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 released and other big internet companies upgrading key information management products, 2007 will see RSS reading reach a mass audience and the potential for RSS to transform the information management industry will be realised.
There is already no shortage of useful RSS feeds for lawyers, and if the smallest of local councils can produce several, so can everyone else that matters. Spurred by the increased demand, they will.
But once again, lawyers will be some of the last to cotton on. As Richard Susskind said recently in his Times column:
‘Most lawyers are pathologically late adopters of IT. Despite promising, early successes, until the worth of an emerging technology is proven beyond reasonable doubt it will not generally be embraced by the legal world. A case in point is RSS [which] enables law firms to alert their clients when they publish something new online, and allows practitioners themselves to be similarly notified when websites relevant for them are updated. While this appears to be ideal for lawyers, many have not heard of RSS. … within 18 months, any lawyer not using RSS will be badly out of step’.

From Ruth Ward, Head of Knowledge Systems and Development at Allen & Overy:

My predictions for the coming year may look eerily familiar to anyone who has heard or read Richard Susskind’s “The Next Ten Years” lecture for the SCL. I do not believe we will need to wait a further 10 years to see many of the developments Richard highlighted move into the legal mainstream. First in line for me is online communication and collaboration using social software such as blogs and wikis. Our use of social software at Allen & Overy to support informal knowledge sharing and collaboration across internal and external communities has brought us significant business benefits. If all the clients and competitors who have come to see us in the last 12 months to get the benefit of our ideas and experience pursue their own projects in the next 12 months then 2007 should see a great explosion in the use of these tools! I think 2007 will also be the year when lawyers’ use and familiarity with the internet more generally begins to have a profound effect on law firms’ own systems and processes. Lawyers will demand a “Google” style search to put them in the driving seat and allow them to manage their information world at work just as at home. We will see a greater uptake in other tools which promote “self-service”, such as RSS. Younger lawyers particularly will expect to be able to use different online media and fora to share their views and ideas. And these internal demands will be joined by a strong client voice – “collaboration” will be the word on every clients’ lips in 2007 and all law firms will need to consider their response.

From Nils Breidenstein, BEA Systems’ EMEA General Counsel:

I believe in 2007 we will see a further movement in new consumer trends (Enterprise 2.0; MySpace, YouTube etc) driving IT development.

In the enterprise, IT has to deliver tangible benefits to the lines of business, and therefore the need is for composite applications instead of pre-packed applications. The use of Service Oriented Architecture will increase. 2007 could see the full breakthrough for SOA technology; the companies who can provide such technology and those who adopt the technology can show spectacular progress.

The increasing use of new technologies comes along with an increasing demand from customers for a fuller and fuller service from software vendors – licensing of software and its support alone is not sufficient any more, rather a full solution needs to be delivered and that solution needs to work at all times. Customers will demand more risk-sharing from their suppliers and the suppliers will have to prove, and to commit to, what they are saying. This will give new and different roles to the classical System Integrators who have been dominating that field so far.

What have to date been US-driven regulations (eg SEC rules and Sarbanes-Oxley requirements) will increasingly get their European dimensions. Companies will have to adapt their policies and practices to these new dimensions so the global approach becomes regional again. The relevance of US regulations will take a step back and will even be further relaxed during 2007 – for example having a whistle-blowing hotline in the US is not enough, this hotline also needs to comply with European provisions.

In 2007 we will also be seeing an increasing recognition of the importance of ethical standards in the business world. It is not enough merely to pay lip-service to ethical standards, the standards must be lived and practised every day. Things which a year ago were regarded as normal business behaviour (for example lavish dinners and events with customers) can now be seen as an act of bribery in many countries. This will have a massive impact on how companies will run their marketing and position themselves in the markets. Here again, there is no global approach any more – things will have to be dealt with on a regional basis.

From Justin Patten, Principal of Human Law, leading blogger and consultant:

My views are that law firms will explore internal wikis and blogs as a way to enhance collaboration within the workplace and to reduce e-mail overload. Allen & Overy are already doing some fine work in this area and I anticipate other law firms will do this as well.

Law firms will start to look at social media as external communication tools such as blogs and RSS feeds as a way to enhance brand but will be cautious due to fears about damage to their online reputation. Due to inaction and the fundamentally conservative nature of lawyers, the consequence will be that the Google profile of law firms will be vulnerable to attack from bloggers.

From James Tuke, Director of Intendance, the Web site systems and research company:

Driven by the prospect of the Legal Services reforms, firms will have to respond to the threat of increased competition both from within the legal profession – and from outside. To remain competitive many firms will start to become more commercially focused, reviewing their use of technology in their workflow and marketing processes. As part of this review, the cost-benefit case for hosted applications will become ever stronger.

From Robin Fry, Partner, Beachcroft LLP:

Theft of source code is an increasing problem as staff and freelancers move between companies or set up in competition. It is technically a criminal offence but rarely prosecuted since trading standards officers have had no duty to investigate copyright offences – only trade mark offences. It is possible for rights owners to bring a private prosecution but 2007 should see a new mandate being given to trading standards to enforce these criminal provisions. The criminal liability will be a significant deterrent – not least because directors and officers of any corporate defendants may also be personally guilty of the same offence if they knew or turned a blind eye to the wrongful use of the source code.

From Jimmy Desai, Partner, Tarlo Lyons:

Last year I predicted that online gaming and IT Security would be of real importance during 2006. Online gaming has really been a big issue this year and I still think that despite the US laws on this, the online gaming sector will continue to grow in 2007 due to customer demand.

IT security issues will also continue to be of huge importance throughout 2007 for all kinds of industry sectors. However, this will be of particular relevance to industry sectors that are heavily regulated such as the financial services sector.

In terms of IT outsourcing in 2007, many customers have now had quite a while to assess whether their outsourcing deal is working for them successfully overall. Have forecasted cost savings materialised? Have service standards improved? I think that 2007 will be the year when customers that are currently involved in outsourcing deals decide strategically whether or not outsourcing is for them. Some customer organisations have struggled on with outsourcing deals which they have varied regularly and on an ad-hoc basis in order to meet their requirements. However, even with all of these variations some customers have found that the services being provided continue to fall below expected standards. Here customer organisations may bring their services back in-house and may also be encouraged to do so if they see that other similar organisations in their industry sector are bringing services back in-house successfully.

I do not think that there will be any steep rise in the number of IT Outsourcing disputes in 2007 compared to 2006. One reason is that disputes are more likely to be commercially settled early on and well before any formal proceedings are issued, particularly because of the mutual dependencies of the parties. Instead, I think that if customers have had problems with their outsourcing deal then they will simply not renew at the end of their current deal.

From Stuart Holden, MD, Axxia Systems:

Christmas must just be round the corner as the seasonal request from Laurence for predictions has just arrived in my inbox.

In previous years my major (and not always accurate) predictions have had to stray outside the traditional legal software supplier market because, let’s face it, there have not been any really earth-shattering things worth predicting.

This year I feel it’s different and there seem to be a lot of pundits making predictions about the legal software market. Why’s that? Well we seem to have finally caught up with the legal market in experiencing dramatic change. Acquisitions galore and some allegedly ground breaking (possibly even disruptive – to quote Prof. Susskind) technology hitting the market!

So to put my neck on the block for the 5th year running, here is what I predict for 2007.

By the end of 2007 the effects of the Darwinian theory of evolution should be taking effect with suppliers. Will we have seen the smallest, weakest eaten by the biggest? Will the quickest have outwitted the slowest and be winning the competition for market share?

I predict that the winners will be those suppliers that can supply the products that enable their law firm users to get to or remain at the top of their own food chains. It has always been innovative and ground-breaking applications that win market share, not just having a large market share (although it’s nice to have both!).

But, I would say that wouldn’t I – we have DNA.

All the very best from all at Axxia for 2007.

From Maureen Daly, Head of IP & IT, Beauchamps Solicitors, Ireland:

Many issues have held the attention of IT lawyers in 2006 and it is expected that these issues will continue to do so next year.  Some of these issues are as follows.

1. The debate surrounding User Generated Content will continue as will that regarding the adoption (or not) of a Community Patent. 

2. Lawyers await with interest the results (and likely outcome) of the EU-wide analysis by the European Commission of Directive 98/6/EC, regarding the obligations to display prices on all products offered for sale to consumers.  From an Irish perspective, we await the transposition of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive as well as the establishment of the National Consumer Agency which will have powers to act forcefully on behalf of consumers. It is expected that Irish consumer legislation will be significantly updated, thereby (it is hoped) giving Ireland one of the strongest and most modern consumer protection regimes in the world.
3. Libel over the Internet is still likely to be very topical, particularly the ability (or otherwise) of a claimant to discover the identity of the author of anonymous material posted on the Internet.
4. Clarification from the EPO regarding its approach to business method and software patents following the comments of the UK Court of Appeal in Aerotel Limited v Telco Holdings Limited; re Macrossan’s Application is eagerly awaited.

From Laurie Kaye, Partner at Laurence Kaye Solicitors and Chairman of the SCL Internet Group:

Here are my top predictions:

1. The Information Commissioner will become the ‘Bono’ (or maybe Sting?) in the world of the digital citizen as he convinces online businesses to take privacy seriously.

2. The term ‘Digital Rights Management’ will fade out and be replaced by ‘Digital Policy Management’, a much broader concept that will help the media world to develop machine readable rights management and clearance systems fit for the 21st century.

3. Continuing exemption from liability for third-party content will be the hottest legal issue for ISPs, portals, search engines and other aggregators like Amazon, E-Bay etc. Does the concept of a ‘host’ in the E-Commerce Directive still fit their business models today?

4. With some notable possible changes in UK law, the outcome of the Gowers Review of UK IP law will be a bit like the man who tells his daughter that the reason he is so busy is that he is working on a group reorganisation. When she asks “Daddy, what’s a group reorganisation?”, he takes her into their garden and stands in front of a tree which is full of birds. He claps his hands and all the birds fly off in different directions but, after a few minutes, they all re-settle on the tree, in most cases on the same branches. The man turns to his daughter and says “That is a group reorganisation.”

From Tim Travers, Partner, Travers Associates:

Blogs and RSS Feeds – the inexorable increase in broadband power and connectivity, and the development of new Web 2.0 services, will see more law firms and more individuals in the legal sector publishing Blogs and using RSS Feeds.  Take a look at an inspiring Canadian law perspective given by Knowledge Services Director, Steve Matthews, on the “Top 10 Uses of RSS for Law Firms” (see  RSS should provide law firms with an easy-to-adopt capability to trigger fresh innovation in their legal working practices.  I commend the SCL on launching its own RSS Feed in August 2006.  A legal pioneer, since its inception in May 2000,, already has a large portfolio of RSS Feeds on different legal subjects, and another good example of things to come.  As at today, how many orange RSS icons could I find on a survey of the home pages of the UK’s Top 10 firms?  They were as hard to find as food in the celebrity Queensland jungle, which kept so many TV viewers amused in November!

Microsoft – Vista and Office 2007 will certainly occupy the attention of law firms even if, as other commentators’ predictions on this page point out, many will wait and see before adoption.  Liam Flanagan of Tikit, which (another prediction) will no doubt grow bigger and stronger still in 2007, sounds some timely advice regarding Word 2007.

Groove 2007 – having been an avid user of Groove Virtual Office for several years, I have a personal wish that Groove (which is shipped with the Enterprise version of Microsoft Office 2007) eventually makes it into the mainstream of UK professional services activity, starting next year.  Getting lawyers to collaborate more effectively with other lawyers and with their clients is a constant challenge.  Collaborative working solutions, like those offered by Groove, can only improve efficiency and enhance profitability.  Which law firms will be the first to have the courage to try Groove at an enterprise level?  After all, it would be reasonable to assume that Bill Gates saw a very good business reason for purchasing Ray Ozzie’s Groove Networks in mid 2005.

Digital signatures and other secure types of electronic signature – having suffered the personal disappointment of losing money and two years’ earning capacity during 2000 and 2001 in a start-up venture (to build a system to manage the complete lifecycle of electronic identity credentials to take advantage of new electronic signatures laws enacted in 2000), every year I continue to wonder whether it will be next year that sees a real appetite among lawyers and their clients to use digital signatures.  I hope so. The advent of e-Conveyancing (see also below), which draws ever closer to reality, may be one of the triggers for change.  A major law firm PR disaster regarding confidential client and matter information continuing to be sent by unencrypted e-mail and leaked into the public domain, with substantial losses to the client concerned, may be another trigger.

E-conveyancing – the Department of Constitutional Affairs has given the go-ahead to the Land Registry to launch its long-awaited e-conveyancing pilot service in October 2007.  This will occur only four months after the (restricted) launch of Home Information Packs on 1 June 2007.  By definition, and given that this was expressly contemplated by the Land Registration Act 2002, e-conveyancing presumably means that e-signatures will be used both to sign e-documents and also to confirm that various steps in the e-conveyancing process have been completed.

Skype – during 2006, my Skype Email Toolbar (along with Google, of course) proved to be my most valuable desktop application.  The amazing thing also is that this, and other Skype toolbars, are free downloads.  I have been able to look up all my Microsoft Outlook contacts and SkypeOut them straight from my PC (a) at lower cost than my traditional telephone suppliers, (b) without the inconvenience of having to key a telephone number into my landline or mobile, and (c) with the convenience of my Plantronics headset. (Coincidentally, I am also using that headset to dictate these predictions using Dragon speech recognition, the subject of a previous year’s prediction (2003) which I must admit has not developed as much as I had hoped as an add-value to the very successful digital dictation deployments.)  Skype will continue to innovate in 2007, and along with other global brands, lead the convergence of services delivered through PCs. TVs, mobiles and other devices.

Outsourcing – “the toothpaste is out of the tube” on this one, definitely.  The Clifford Chance / Integreon / India story and legal outsourcing generally are ones to watch with interest in 2007.

“White Circles and Magic Shoes?” – will 2007 see the first transatlantic merger between a Magic Circle firm and a White Shoe firm?  With the Profit Per Equity Partner figures in the UK global firms rising significantly during 2006 (plus some recent headline grabbing seven figure figures per equity partner quoted for 2007), are the comparable profit figures between UK and US partners now sufficiently close to trigger some major transatlantic merger action?

The Google, YouTube and MySpace Generation – with more graduates from this generation joining law firms as trainee solicitors and young qualified lawyers, and also becoming consumers of professional services in their own right, the gap between fluent technology users and technology luddites will become ever greater within the same organisation.  As one of my former firm’s managing partners might say, adopting McKinsey principles learnt from Harvard Business School professors, “how does this gap affect the organisation’s alignment of its structure, strategy, systems, style, staff, skills and shared values?”

Law Firm Strategic Reviews and Alternative Business Structures – with the Legal Services Bill due to receive Royal Assent in Summer 2007, and Alternative Business Structures a core part of such legislation, law firms of all shapes and sizes will see fit during 2007 to conduct a strategic review of where they are, where they are going, and how they wish to get there.  If they do not, they may be left behind while their competitors are energised by the opportunity of change, rather than scared by its threat.  One interesting precedent is about to be created in Australia, which some in the UK may follow, with the imminent scheduled listing of Integrated Legal Holdings Limited, which was incorporated to establish a model by which the ownership of existing independent law firms and related businesses can be consolidated under one listed legal services entity.  The different responses to the Legal Services Act as enacted are likely to be the most noteworthy events affecting the legal sector in 2007.

From Charles Christian, Publisher and Editor of Legal Technology Insider:

Although much of the hype will surround the launches of Microsoft Vista and Office 12 in the New Year, with the exception of maybe 20 to 30 City firms who are always early adopters, these two innovations will have zero impact upon the vast majority of UK law firms. What instead will attract their attention is the consolidation taking place within the legal IT suppliers’ market. The CS Group has already picked up three vendors and I’m certain they will buy at least two more if the circumstances are right. The two publishing giants – Lexis and Thomson – are also building up software portfolios, and there is at least one other big merger on the cards.

Final prediction: by January 2008 there may be many firms still running Windows 97 but the supplier market will have changed out of all recognition.

From Mike Conradi ( of specialist technology firm Kemp Little:

Whilst there may be a lot of excitement about mobile content and services, in my view there’s actually a lot more potential for mobile voice communications to continue, or even accelerate, their rapid growth in 2007. According to OFCOM, fixed call revenues and minutes are falling quite rapidly (from GBP£6.6bn and 300bn minutes in 2004 to GBP£5.7bn and 250bn minutes in 2005). At the same time mobile subscribers are making more calls and sending more texts, and are spending more on these services even as prices fall. In 2005 some 31% of UK call volumes were from mobiles – a figure 11% higher than in 2001.
What this means is that we’re not going to see fixed-mobile convergence so much as fixed-to-mobile substitution. In both homes and offices, new services will continue to encourage subscribers to use their mobile phones in place of their fixed ones. OFCOM’s licensing of additional GSM spectrum in 2006 has meant that business users will be able to access all the functionality of their office PBX from their mobile handset, and similar services in the home will allow users to make calls from their mobile phones when at home, but for a lower price and with better call quality. Following this logic forward, traditionally fixed providers, such as BT, will continue to expand into mobile services and they will also see an increasing portion of their revenues taken up with non-voice services such as broadband. Within a few years, I predict that mobile revenues will overtake fixed revenues in respect of voice calls in the UK.

From William Cook, Partner in the Intellectual Property Department at Simmons & Simmons:

In 2007, the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal will convene and issue a statement “clarifying” the EPO’s approach to business method and software patents, following the Court of Appeal’s comments in Macrossan.  It will be understood to be in general support of patents incorporating business methods and software, as currently, unless the patent is for those aspects as such.  As to the detail beyond that, the statement will be open to numerous interpretations . . .

From Clive Davies, Partner at Olswang:

I have two predictions for 2007:
1. Law firms will increasingly outsource parts of their operations to India and similar offshore destinations. This will not just relate to evening word processing, but will extend into know how and research and even into fee earning work. A 2/3 year qualified lawyer in India can do the first pass at a due diligence activity at £30/40 per hour, as opposed to a trainee at £170 an hour.
2. The distinction between television sets and computers will erode with TVs being used for e-mail and browsing and PCs for downloading and viewing content.

From Ian De Freitas, Partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP:

I predict a wider backlash in 2007 on user generated content, not simply from rights holders wishing to make money from content appearing on social networking sites like MySpace, YouTube and Facebook, but also in the reporting of media events, such as the withdrawal of US/UK troops from Iraq. Content generated by the insurgents and the troops themselves will cause serious questions to be asked about the control to be exerted over this material and freedom of expression.

From Liam Flanagan, Tikit Founder and Director:

I believe that the development that will have the biggest impact on legal IT in 2007 is going to be the launch of Office 2007 and with it the new version of Word as well as Sharepoint. You might not think that a new version of Word is going to be revolutionary but it will touch pretty much everyone in the legal industry at some level. Because of that, getting it installed, getting the implementation right and making the most of its new interface and functionality are some of the most important things you can do in the next 12 months.

From Tom Paul, a consultant specialising in the management of law firms of up to around 8 partners in size. He has just published a new website, a forum for practice managers and managing partners –

For the smaller firm, the big challenge in 2007 is “How do we make better use of our IT?” I think it is fair to say that few firms of this size have well-planned IT strategies or investment programmes and that few have yet grasped just how much more their computers could be doing for them. The productivity gains from case management, for example, can be enormous. The profitability of departments such as conveyancing, often only average to poor when run on conventional lines, can be transformed and the pressure to bring in better risk management can be met in one leap.
Partnerships can take a very long time to make decisions on investment and I suspect that it can be hard for partners to spend money that they feel is coming from their own pockets. It is all too personal. Perhaps as more firms turn to incorporation, with the creation of the new entity which comes with that, and the shift in perception from “my” or “our” money to “its” money, IT investment will be considered differently.
Firms must also begin to grasp the whole area of client access to information. Most still have a mindset that dictates that everything is confidential and far too sensitive to discuss openly but a new generation now needs legal services, a generation that has grown up with IT, the Internet and with instant access to information, much of it free. They cannot understand any other way of doing things. I believe that those firms that open their services up will attract their business and will prosper at the expense of the others, who will steadily be seen more and more as “fuddy-duddy”. The focus on intranets and extranets, even for smaller firms, will rise steadily.

From Sandra Potter, Director of Potter Farrelly & Associates:

1. Standards for exchange of information in Civil Litigation Matters – As disclosure of  electronic documents becomes the norm in civil litigation matters, the publishing and effective application of a Court Practice Direction which provides specific guidelines for the form, content and method of such disclosure will become the fulcrum point to manage the increasing cost and time elements inherent in this type of disclosure.
2. E-mail – The lack of security around existing e-mail systems will eventually hit home. Communications between lawyers and their clients should not be transmitted on what is effectively a public broadcast channel. Point to point e-mail validation and acceptance will become the norm. At a minimum, encryption of content should take place to provide at least some basic protection especially from a privacy point of view. In fact any third-party information of a personal nature transmitted via e-mail may in fact breach privacy regulations (eg an individual’s resumé should be encrypted before being sent via e-mail). There will be a trend towards user and source validation and only e-mail from validated sources will be processed into a firm’s email system to further restrict the detrimental effect of spam on the system.
3. Integration of legal support systems – We will see more integration of CRM, document management and practice management systems with a corresponding change to the offerings from vendors. Specialist litigation systems will become more mainstream with many of the required features becoming subsets of full function document and record management systems. Corporations in the top 500 will be more literate in this area with many of their internal systems capable of producing electronic document sets for legal purposes when required. The technology is with us now to integrate these systems with VoIP telephony, creating an environment where a lawyer answering the phone will see a picture of the client pop up on the PC along with a full list of related matters and recent correspondence to same, a one-stop information resource. The ball is in the law firm’s court.

From Joe Reevy, Director of Words for Business:

After clear signs in 2006 that the penny is beginning to drop, 2007 should be the year in which firms as a whole realise that significant profits are to be found in providing value (relevant legal news and information) to clients which will help ‘glue’ them to firms leading to repeat business, with attendant low marketing costs.

From Jeremy Storey QC of 4 Pump Court

I think that IT disputes are likely to increase in 2007 mainly because supplier’s prices for public procurement contracts have been squeezed so much and terms have become so onerous that suppliers are unable (or unwilling economically) to perform their contracts and are driven to renegotiate or fall into breach. On the other hand, I predict that fewer than ever of these disputes will be decided in court or arbitration as the Government, although acting much tougher than before, seems keen to settle wherever possible those disputes arising in an uncompleted project, to avoid uncertainty, more delay and taxpayers’ money (see eg HMRC’s settlement with EDS in November 2005 and Granger’s comments after Accenture exited the NHS contract amicably in September 2006). I predict that IT litigation lawyers will be called upon more than ever to assist suppliers to renegotiate and customers to stand firm but be pragmatic.