Predictions 2013, and beyond: Part 4, A Meaty Miscellany
With contributions from a lawyer working in the computer industry, an innovative provider of online legal services, a barrister with IT nous and hands-on litigation experience and a leading expert on evidence and documentation issues, these predictions range widely and offer intriguing points for all
From Paul Heritage-Redpath, Solicitor and Product Manager, Entanet: firstname.lastname@example.org
In five years' time the idea that we had to be our own system administrators at home will seem as quaint as bringing in our own firewood once mobile, utility, computing that stores data on remote servers has become ubiquitous.
In ten years' time the idea that we used to drive in tin boxes to someone else's building to log in to desktop computers administered by dedicated onsite staff just to do our work will seem equally anachronistic.
Jon Ronson recently said in interview, ‘if you want to get away with wielding true malevolent power, be boring, because we want to look good as writers, so we want our prose to be colorful and exciting’. As lawyers we should heed the truth of that and pay close attention to the International Telecommunication Union conference which runs into the new year. This will be dominated by two topics which affect us all as more of our lives moves inexorably online. These are: who pays who to move traffic around the world, and who governs the secure transmission and safe delivery of that traffic. Syria's network going dark is a warning to us all that centralising modern life on networks puts enormous power in the hands of a global elite.
My prediction for next year is that the draft Communications Data Bill will be shelved, only for our government's repressive urges to return in the form of a remarkably similar bill after the next election. And Office 2013 will have as little impact on the legal world as Windows 8 did this year.
From Tom Hiskey, co-founder, The Law Wizard Limited, www.thelawwizard.com
Last year, I predicted online consumer-facing legal solutions would come to the fore. They haven't! This time, I'll temper my enthusiasm and suggest that 2013 will be a period of learning. Learning about consumer habits online. Learning how to apply a successful American model to the UK. Learning from new entrants with different ideas. Learning about the possibilities of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and when it might start to make a significant impact. Learning from real-world experience and adapting decisively through analysis and evidence. If this sounds downbeat, far from it! 2013 will be an exciting year in online legal services, for consumers and providers.
The inevitable has occurred and consumers' first port of call for legal services is online, just as it is today with banking, shopping and tax. Behind the scenes, lawyers are less like book-worms and more like managers. Partnerships are few and far between; so are hourly rates. Consolidation sees a significant market share for a small number of providers. It's easy to find a decent cup of coffee, everything's made of graphene, and The Rolling Stones, now more silicone than human flesh, enjoy a successful comeback tour.
A.I. rules! Humans, or our robot successors, will speak their situation in plain language, and Artificial Intelligence algorithms will produce advice and documents in a few seconds. Legal advisors survive and remain plentiful, but are largely consigned to high-end bespoke work and comforting chit-chat over a cup of coffee (Nescafe).
From Michael Taylor, Barrister at 4 Pump Court
2013 will not be a year to forget the familiar foreground. More cases than in any other year will be won and lost as a result of the handling of electronic disclosure. The new CPR 31.5A (1 April 2013), will further encourage Courts to tailor disclosure to the particular needs of the case.
With costs bills more scrutinised than ever by the courts, expect also to efficient and client-aware Alternative Business Structures starting to take hold.
Electronic devices may even become ‘socialised’ in the court room as a replacement for counsels’ paper diaries and the White Book (although I would not bet on that one).
From Mike Taylor, Director, i-Lit Limited: www.i-lit.co.uk
April will see the acceleration of the ‘race to the bottom’ on e-disclosure processing pricing. This will eventually mean the consolidation of service providers as those with lower volumes find it harder to survive on their own, this in turn will lead to reduced competition and a gradual (over a long time) increase in pricing.
There will be an increasing use of predictive coding.
E-disclosure service providers will (hopefully) really concentrate on the quality of project management as their key differentiator.
Someone will introduce a low cost ‘Point and Process’ e-disclosure service.
More and more firms will use low cost document review options.
E-disclosure exercises in SMEs will be completed using ‘off the shelf’ low cost software. Large organisations will have gained control of their data and will complete the process in-house.
Law firms will effectively be split into two groups - process driven ‘factory’ firms with high throughput and low margins and ‘sets’ of expert high-cost solicitors with low throughput and high margins.
BYOD (with centralised storage and sync) will be the norm.
Chris Dale will have found a way of being in two places at once.