From a greater focus on cybersecurity and a rise in legal operations professionals to an increase in automation and AI and TAR implementation, these are among the top 10 legal trends that departments and firms should be aware of in 2018.
- A Greater Focus on Cybersecurity
During lawsuits, sensitive documents like business data, trade secrets or other intellectual property are frequently transferred electronically. According to the ABA 2017 Legal Technology Survey Report, 44 percent of firms reported experiencing a data breach last year. So now, more than ever, the legal industry needs to focus on cybersercurity and protecting these highly sensitive documents through policies and protection.
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- Firms Will Continue to Innovate How and What Legal Services Are Offered as the Market Grows Increasingly Competitive
Examples include process improvement, better knowledge management, legal project management, the implementation of technology, communication and analytics.
- The Increase in the Types of Technology Will Require More Focus on Spoliation
As reported by Reuters in November 2017, according to testimony from current and past Uber Technologies Inc. employees, top execs have used the encrypted chat application Wickr to conduct secret conversations. This could result in the first major legal test of its kind, as companies have an obligation to preserve data that could be relevant to future litigation or regulation requirements.
- A Rise in Legal Operations Professionals
Because legal departments are continuing to take on more work, the legal operations professional is vital for balancing the budget, recruiting, analyzing data and implementing a variety of technology solutions — tasks typically counsel doesn’t have either the time or skill set for.
- Increased Automation and AI and TAR Implementation
According to 2017 Altman Weil “Law Firms in Transition,” 84 percent expected an increase of automation and artificial intelligence in the legal industry. In the same survey, 49 percent stated that their firms were experimenting with using AI in place of human performance to increase efficiency. Counsel will also adopt and use technology-assisted review as a way to lean on AI to save time and money.
- Increased E-Discovery Legal Technology Adoption and Move to the Cloud
In “Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life-Critical,” the International Data Corporation estimates that by 2025, the global datasphere will grow to 163 zettabytes (a trillion gigabytes) — 10 times the 16.1ZB of data generated in 2016. Because of this continuing explosion of data, firms can no longer use onsite, installed appliances or antiquated legal technology. It’s time to move to the cloud and to software that can support these large amounts of data.
- General Counsel and Lawyers Will Be More Involved in Corporate Board, with Business and CEO
Attorneys will be more involved in business decisions and increasingly considered for board positions in companies.
- International Standards for International Clients
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) being enforced in May of this year, expect companies that do business internationally to focus on getting processes pertaining to data in place in order to remain in compliance.
- Blockchain Will Continue to Be a Focus
Attorneys will take advantage of Blockchain for smart contracts and more, plus laws and regulations will result because of the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
- The In-House Legal Department Will Enter a Golden Age
This year, expect legal departments to hire and groom junior lawyers. Lawyers will also become more savvy and sophisticated about fee arrangements, hiring and outsourcing.