Are “predictions” posts, which are immensely popular this time of year, “pointless,” as The Lawyerist recently pointed out? They certainly can be! As The Lawyerist pointed out, this time of year is filled with posts attempting to predict what is to come in the legal industry over the coming year, and many times it sets the expectation that there will be a monumental or explosive shift, rather than a gradual change over time. We can’t disagree with that. Our industry, after all, is typically slow to change and adopt the new, particularly when it comes to technology. However, the gradual changes that have occurred over the past several years have led us to an interesting moment in legal technology history. Therefore, since we can’t resist a good “predictions” post of our own, we’ll focus on the key technologies, ideas or behaviors that will either be introduced or come into their own in the coming year.
#1: Mobility will become one of the greatest complexities faced by the modern law firm.
Along with increases in efficiency and convenience brought about by mobility, there are also several challenges, or things that firm administrators need to “figure out.” For example, just as firms have come to terms with BYOD and how it works for their firms, wearables are now becoming commonplace. In 2016 BYOW will need to be addressed by law firms, along with end user support for mobile devices and applications, security and other concerns.
#2: Welcome Wearables. We’ll begin to see the end of the smartphone, if we’re paying attention.
As hard as it might be to imagine, several experts are predicting that we have entered the “beginning of the end” for the smartphone. Innovations in artificial intelligence and wearables are continuing to gain popularity among attorneys and legal professionals. We’re certainly not suggesting that attorneys won’t be using smartphones in the near future, but rather that other technologies will gradually replace key functions carried out on the smartphone today. We saw similar trends happening when the iPad came out and the effect it had on laptops.
#3: Law Firms will embrace Software as a Service (SaaS) and True Mobility.
Due to the complexities and increased reliance on mobility, firms will approach mobility with a greater level of sophistication. Policies at firms will address engagement, wearables (BYOW) and complete integration across a firm’s systems and processes in order to achieve True Mobility. In addition, firms will continue to rely on the SaaS model in order to deploy the right solutions to their attorneys in a scalable and safe manner.
#4: More attorneys than ever before will enter their own time contemporaneously, increasing engagement with mobile time entry apps.
By the end of 2015, more attorneys than ever before were entering their own time via their mobile devices, rather than conducting reconstructive time entry with the help of legal assistants. This is great news for law firms looking to increase the accuracy of time entries and practicing real-time compliance.
#5: Data driven by mobile usage will empower firms to make smarter decisions, faster.
The availability of real-time analytics and compliance data will make time and billing data more accessible to legal administrators than ever before, meaning that accuracy, time leakage and its contribution to revenue can be easily measured. This allows administrators to create better projections and identify bad news early.
Will any of these things feel “big” or “important” as they are happening? That’s for time to tell. In the meantime, share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.