Gartner Legal Tech Hype Curve – 2020 Positions

Research company Gartner has published its Legal Tech Hype Curve analysis for 2020, showing where various types of tech are on their famous development and real world adoption chart.

Have a look at the main chart below:

Here’s some thoughts on some of the tech positions on the curve:

Text analytics – which is a broad grouping, although clearly includes NLP. This is on the slope of enlightenment – which is good to see and about right given the level of understanding now across the market. Although, we also have ‘Advanced Contract Analytics’, which is now coming down from the peak of inflated expectations – and that seems to be in conflict with the point about text analytics. If we ignore the former group, is contract analytics really only now coming down from the peak of expectations…? AL would say that it’s been a long time now since this tech was broadly used across many large commercial firms and any disillusionments they’ve had came some time ago. So, AL would probably put it right alongside Text Analytics’ spot on the chart, i.e. on the slope of enlightenment and meaningful use at scale.

E-Discovery software – is surprisingly lower down the curve than text analytics, even though the two have strong cross-overs and E-discovery has been around for decades. Seems a bit off the mark.

Blockchain – is in the trough of disillusionment, i.e. where BS has stopped and people are really looking at what can be done. This is about right, although there are still plenty in the blockchain world who act as if it’s some magical new panacea for all ills, rather than very useful for certain use cases where you need shared databases where no-one has control.

Smart contracts – are shown as at the peak of expectations. Whereas this site would say that was more than a year ago. The position now with just a handful of law firms creating commercially available complex smart contracts for clients is that this tech is in the trough of disillusionment, where reality is sinking in that this is not going – just yet – to change the world, but that there will be some very sensible use cases. It just needs more time to bed down.

Chatbots – are at the very early stage in the innovation trigger stage – again, this site would differ. Legal bots had their peak excitement about three years ago. They are now in the trough of disillusionment, i.e. people can see their limitations, that they can be very useful in narrow areas, and basically are just a form of expert system.

Legal spend management – is also seen as early in the innovation trigger stage, to be frank, this type of software has been around for a long time – check out TyMetrix/Wolters Kluwer, which is used by a lot of companies. Even newer companies such as Apperio have been around a while now. AL would place this way up on the slope of enlightenment.

Predictive analytics – are placed very high up, not far off from the plateau of productivity, i.e. really high levels of use and real value coming from this tech across the board. AL just does not see that yet. There are several great predictive companies out there, but they are not at this stage yet in terms of use.

Overall, much as this site respects Gartner, some of the decisions in this chart seem a bit off the mark.

Happy to hear what you think. Has Gartner got this right?

Here’s a comment from Michael Grupp, CEO, BRYTER

‘Thanks Richard – good summary, mostly agree.

But, it is worth mentioning that Gartner is focused on enterprise customers and gathers data based on corporate customer feedback. Not everything discussed at conferences actually makes it into corporate buying. And vice versa: a lot of relevant corporate tech does not make it into the legal tech buzz. You know, the boring stuff 😉 ‘


  1. Spend management has been tightly linked to ELM for the better part of a decade, so I don’t understand how Gartner can separate these two and then position them so far apart. And where is e-billing? Tucked away as part of ELM or spend management?

  2. Legal chatbot in 5 years? I guess GPT-3 have already arrived and it’s showing in practical that Garner’s prediction was wrong. It should be mature enough to be in production by the end of this year.

  3. This was my initial reaction, too. Legal spend management and legal matter management form the core of ELM. The positioning doesn’t make sense to me.

  4. Richard, it would be interesting to compare this against the 2017/8 equivalent to see the movement. I agree with the classification of those technologies in the slope of enlightenment, but I don’t agree with where Legal Spend fits unless Gartner is thinking of it as a broad data driven service. Also interesting they have ALSPs in the trough of disillusionment, suggesting that ALSPs are not delivering the kind of innovation expected by the Corporate legal world and remain largely a rate arbitration play. The overall picture suggests less shiny new legal tech, more value driven, BAU tech to support the legal function.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. ガートナーハイプサイクル2020|リーガルテック市場の技術革新と倫理観の形成 | STOnline
  2. The Top 25 Artificial Lawyer Articles of 2020 – Artificial Lawyer
  3. Gartner Legal Tech Hype Cycle 2021 – Some Thoughts – Artificial Lawyer

Comments are closed.