2019 Legal Tech Predictions from the Market

‘When you say it’s gonna happen now, Well when exactly do you mean?’ sang Morrissey of the Smiths.

Well, in this case we mean 2019!

Here are the views, in no particular order, of some of the leaders in legal tech, from law firms to tech companies. Enjoy.

Peter Hunn, Co-founder, Clause

‘In 2019 we will see smart legal contracts transition into the public consciousness and production environments. Every year someone attempts such a prophetic ‘move to production’ statement, but given that 2018 has been a ‘building’ year in many ways my feeling is that the fruits of that will start to be evident in 2019.’

Charley Moore, founder and CEO of Rocket Lawyer

‘While blockchain was over-hyped in its early days, we’re now starting to see legitimate business use cases for the technology. Blockchain has made smart contracts possible — legal agreements that are self-executing and tracked on a digital ledger — and now businesses of all sizes can use them for quick and easy legal transactions. Whether it’s for hiring a worker or buying goods, blockchain-based smart contracts that track performance and document the terms of an agreement give every business the ability to make legal agreements affordably.’

Adam Eastell, General Counsel & Head of Sector – Legal, Eigen Technologies

‘In 2019 we will see the legal industry significantly improve its understanding of how to best use advanced technology. In 2018 we saw law firms become much more strategic about what technology they use and why. Those who are at the forefront of the application of advanced technology in the law know that it takes time, effort, and serious thinking to get it right. Currently, there are two big trends that are driving this change; the development of advanced LegalTech products and reorganisation of processes and structures within law firms. These trends are now starting to converge.

In 2019 this convergence will speed up and become more visible. As this happens, firms will increasingly realise that the latest technology can be used beyond relatively simple tasks that are often highly manual and full of drudgery. Instead, advanced technology will increasingly be used to unlock the huge amount of data and knowledge that law firms have, and they will begin to use technology to make their legal advice more data driven. This will take us further towards a future where the differentiation between firms will be based on who can give the best advice by fully leveraging their deep institutional legal knowledge using technology.’

Toby Unwin, co-founder, Premonition

‘In 2019 we’ll see most major law firms will have a fake legal technology initiative, but most of their clients will have a real one…’

Richard Mabey, co-founder, Juro

‘In 2019 we will start to see more of a focus on the design of legal software. Legal tools will continue to be ‘augmented’ by AI, but the expectations on ease of use will be higher than ever. Powerful AI will meet great UX, which will facilitate higher adoption of legal AI and a compounding of the benefits of these platforms. This will kick the industry out of the trough of disillusionment, as enlightened lawyers suddenly find themselves doing less repetitive process and more of the high value work they trained for.’

Shruti Ajitsaria, Head of Fuse, Allen & Overy

‘In 2019 we will see client legal ops teams making a really big impact.’

Emily Foges, CEO, Luminance

‘In 2019, one thing we will see is legal AI being used to alleviate social pressures, by reducing legal fees, facilitating an uptake in pro bono work and relieving pressures on the over-stretched criminal justice system, for example.’

Gary Nuttall, Smart Contract and Blockchain advisor + consultant to Clyde Code

‘To quote Nobel prize winner, Niels Bohr, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

‘But I will go for….In 2019 we will see Smart Contract templates being used to automatically, and irrevocably, execute simple legal contracts such as parametric insurance….Takes cover and hides under  a rock!’

Rick Merrill, Gavelytics, Founder and CEO

‘In 2019 we will see judicial analytics products further penetrate the Am Law 100, beyond just the early adopters, and truly be on the road to ubiquity.’

Aaron Wright, Co-Founder, OpenLaw

‘In 2019, we will see a focus on building real applications relying on blockchain technology, legal or otherwise, and, gratefully, far less hype.’

‘There will be a greater need for lawyers to understand why a blockchain adds value to the practice of law and lawyers who can work with smart contracts and blockchain technology.  (And this is why you
need OpenLaw today!)’

Andrew Arruda, Co-Founder, ROSS.

‘In 2019 we will see the continued adoption of AI enabled legal technology by legal organizations of all shapes and sizes as well as governmental departments. 2019 will be a very exciting year!’

Michael Grupp, Co-founder, Bryter

‘In 2019 we will see a lot more tech adoption and real projects in firms and corporate legal departments. Automation will have a big play in it and innovation triggers will more and more come from outside the legal field.’

Kevin Miller, CEO, Legal Sifter

‘In 2019, we will see the beginning of a tipping point in the market on A.I. in legal. The early adopters of the last few years who have completed a few projects will start to expand their initiatives. Another wave of buyers who have sat back and waited on the market will jump in, only they will move faster than their predecessors because many suppliers have improved their products dramatically. Our algorithms, for example, are another year smarter. Everything and everyone in the space is learning, and 2019 will be one of the first payoff years, setting up an explosive 2020.’

Shmuli Goldberg, VP Marketing, LawGeex

‘In 2019, we will see major shifts in the legal job market. As automation makes further gains in this sector, we will see more and more employers requiring experience with legal tech and automation tools. Today, we are already observing companies in the fields of finance, insurance, and technology hiring contract automation specialists and other positions which require proficiency in legal AI – and all signs point to this trend continuing and accelerating in the coming year.’

Nick Watson, Founder, Ruby Datum

‘In 2019 we will see plenty of consolidation and integration, of data, firms, start-ups and more. I think we’ll see lots of acquisitions, some mergers and exciting collaborations between both law and tech firms.’

Catherine Krow, CEO, Digitory Legal

‘In 2019, we will see greater adoption of tools that use AI to automate the “low hanging fruit” – non-strategic but expensive tasks that often fall to junior lawyers and paralegals, and for which clients are not willing to pay.

‘Also, in 2019 we will see growing awareness of the capabilities and limitations of AI-enabled legal technology, as practicing lawyers begin learning about it to fulfill their duty of technical competence and decide how best to respond to client pressure for innovation and efficiency.’

Tim Pullan, CEO and Founder, ThoughtRiver

‘In 2019 we will see less talk about ‘AI’ and more focus on real challenges the legal services industry is addressing – ‘automation’ and ‘digitisation’.  We will see a continued focus on real-world use cases.

Inevitably we’ll see further major tectonic shifts in the players with large new entrants participating through strategic alliances.  Finally, we’ll see the emergence of initiatives that will shape the legal automation industry for decades.  In hindsight we’ll look at the 2015-2018 period like the world before the PC was invented.’

Daniel Porus, Legatics

‘In 2019 we will see less talk about AI and automation and more practical applications by law firms and their clients.’

Noah Waisberg, CEO, Kira Systems

‘While 2018 may have seemed like a big year in legal AI, to me, there has been steady progress since ~2014. In 2019 we will see continued progress.

  • Growth in legal AI adoption across and beyond eDiscovery, contract analysis, legal research, and expert systems.
    • Continued progress towards ubiquity of contract analysis software on appropriate tasks. I.e., eventually getting to a place akin to that of blacklining software, where it is used everywhere, essentially all the times when it might be used.
    • Growth in use cases that couldn’t be done without AI, as well as continued use of AI to improve current workflows.
  • Continued increase in the sophistication of buyers in the market, as buyers get experience; more and more information (e.g., from reviews by others using) is available about tools; and firms better understand that efficiency can help them make more money.
  • Increasingly-capable tools.’

Bill Koch, Chief Knowledge Officer, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP

‘In 2019 we will see law firms building and refining AI tools that will surface insights found within their own big data. Whether these tools are used for predicting matter costs or for predicting a firm’s success rate under certain circumstances, AI will be what allows firms to achieve prescience from the troves of data found inside their own repositories.’

Linklaters

  • Paul Lewis (Partner, Co-head of the Innovation Steering Group): “In 2019 we will see document negotiation platforms go mainstream, with a number of very credible platforms set to be launched this year by a combination of legaltech start-ups, law firms, industry bodies and established players. Reg reform driven repapering will combine with the need for end-to-end structured data and “smart” documents to see widespread buy-in for such technologies.”
  • Christian Storck (Partner, Co-head of the Innovation Steering Group): “In 2019 we will see European legislation on blockchain based assets. Although the European Commission has recently created the blockchain forum and roundtable, soft law only has led to different legal treatment in Europe (e.g. virtual currencies may be treated as currency, commodity, securities, unregulated or regulated by local law). This will change in order to create pan-European blockchain based capital market.”
  • Richard Hay (Head of FinTech): “In 2019, we will see whether a global regulatory agenda will drive an effective level playing field, not just in FinTech, but also for Big Tech in finance.”
  • Shilpa Bhandarkar (Head of Innovation): “In 2019, we will see law firms truly realise the value of the data they hold, with a focus not only on the data itself but the skills, tools and architecture required to process, analyse and present that data in a customer centric way.”

Rick Seabrook, European Director, Neota Logic

‘In 2019 we will see more fun, hard work, success and failure as we collectively try to change the legal industry for the better.’

There you go! What do you think will happen in 2019?

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