A peek at the evolution of legal technology over the next few years

I was recently asked to be part of a panel discussion of national IT technology specialists to discuss developing technology trends.  The event was part of the ALA New York City chapter’s symposium, “The Legal Industry:  The Next Generation”.

Here’s a peek at what I expect law firms to see in the coming years for some of the most important technologies in the areas of DMS, e-mail management, mobility, the cloud, disaster recovery/business continuity, business analytics, Windows 8, going paperless, and speech recognition.

9 Important Future Technologies:

, A peek at the evolution of legal technology over the next few yearsIs your firm ready for what to expect in these critical areas of legal technology?

1:  Document Management (DMS)

Continued push towards more, better, quicker remote access, especially with mobile devices (phone/tablets).  While many vendors are out there HP/Autonomy will continue to be the document management leader in the legal industry.  Other vendors cannot yet provide the robustness that is available with iManage.  Basic document management is easy, records and e-mail management are often lacking.

2:  E-mail Management

There are tools available to help with e-mail management, including WorkSite’s Communication Server and DocAuto’s suite.

The main issue that legal will have to grapple with is buy-in and reasonable expectations to have a successful implementation.

If you don’t get buy in, some will continue to stick to their own methods.  On the flip side some users may look to a solution as a one stop process to file all e-mail, regardless of its relevance to the organization.  That can lead to a system becoming bogged down and bloated with data making it more difficult to find the useful information amid a sea of junk.  Most successful firms start with getting users to file relevant e-mail as an ongoing habit and develop strategies to handle historic e-mail later.

3:  Mobility

Over the next few years the push for mobile access to data will intensify with more vendors offering more solutions to access content than ever before.

Security will be the big differentiator in this area.

Vendors that can provide data access without compromising on security or ease of use will be the big winners.  HP/Autonomy will continue to provide solid leadership with WorkSite Anywhere and its Mobility product.  When WorkSite Anywhere is combined with Microsoft’s Outlook Anywhere on Exchange or Office 365 the result is access to 90-95% of the data that user’s require.  Look for Time and Billing applications to be the next to offer mobile/remote access.

4:  The Cloud

The Cloud is your ability to access your data across the Internet.  Look for “cloud” solutions like Office 365 to continue to gain traction in the industry.  Service Level Agreements and security will be key differentiators for cloud vendors.  Some businesses will choose to forego the public cloud in favor of building their own with products like SharePoint and VDI.  The standard tradeoffs will apply, however, increased flexibility and control versus complexity and increased management overhead.

5:  Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity

Costs for recovery solutions will continue to come down making DR a practical possibility for more firms.

The biggest question will remain how much do you need and how much are you willing to pay for it.

A new set of players is emerging and will continue to gain traction over the next few years—backup and recovery vendors entering the DR/BC space with products like Dell’s AppAssure and Quorum with products that provide basic backup and recovery but also allow you to stand up servers on separate hardware in a DR location.  They are not real-time recovery systems, but for a much lower cost of entry you can bring your network back online at a DR site in a matter of hours instead of days.

6:  Business Analytics

An emerging area with great potential.  Firms will begin discussing whether or not it is worth retaining a client that generates large amounts of revenue, but also requires large investments that may be more profitable if directed elsewhere.  Blindly driving forward will no longer be an option.

7:  Windows 8

With Windows 10 currently in preview it’s unlikely that many firms will adopt Windows 8, instead waiting for the new OS, which promises to be more corporation friendly.

8:  Going Paperless

There are some really nice scanning solutions that have been out for a while, some that provide slick integration with WorkSite.  That being said, look for few firms to adopt such technology as it requires a significant shift in ideology for the firm as well as a significant investment in technology to make it happen.  The cost versus benefit tradeoff will limit adoption

9:  Speech Recognition

Look for speech recognition to continue as a niche market

These are my predictions for 2015 and beyond for AmLaw 100 and 200 firms across the nation.  These are topics worth thinking hard about now in preparation of the future, to be on the cutting edge and well equipped to servicing your clients and internal users in the most efficient manner possible.

Interested in knowing more?

Adaptive Solutions is ready to consult you.  Please drop us a line through our main website at www.adaptivesolutions.com.

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Todd is the Chief Technology Officer and has been working in the field of legal IT since the early 1990’s. In his role at Adaptive, Todd functions as our most senior systems engineer. He works closely with our customers on the proper design and scaling of back-end and front-end network upgrades, including both desktop and server virtualization, backup and DR, document management and best practices for ongoing service and support. Specialties: • Technology Strategy & Roadmap • Infrastructure Design & Optimization • Technology Needs Assessments • Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity • Virtualization Design & Implementation

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