2022 Predictions – The Market View: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of the Artificial Lawyer 2022 legal tech predictions. As before, people were asked two questions: What would you like to see happen in 2022? And what do you think will really happen next year? Here is what everyone said. Enjoy.

Electra Japonas, founder of tlb and co-founder of oneNDA.

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

I think the future of law lies in applying and prioritising customer-focused design to ‘legal products’ (e.g. contracts or processes). In other words, I think that it will become mainstream for legal service providers (including in-house lawyers) to only put out contracts, tools and processes that are designed with the end user in mind, rather than taking a ‘by lawyers, for lawyers’ approach which is currently the status quo in most scenarios.

If we can couple that with gaining community consensus on what ‘good’ looks like and what ‘market standard’ is, then we’re looking at a completely different industry. Imagine a world where we all agree on the same standards and where those standards are easily accessible to everyone, including people who don’t have a legal background – it would be a complete game changer.

And what do you think will really happen next year?

I think we’ll see a general shift in mindset within the legal community and in an investment in creating better ways of working for a more customer focused approach. We are already seeing the beginning of this trend and lawyers are already starting to realise their role as commercial enablers and quickly getting to grips with how they can work differently to enable their businesses to grow. I think the driver behind this is the fact that we’ve all been working from our kitchen tables for two years (!) which has made us evaluate what we’re doing in a broader context.

This is really exciting as it marks the beginning of a different type of role for the lawyer – a more integrated, versatile and creative role that focuses on how to drive growth, customer satisfaction and effectiveness – rather than predominantly mitigate risk. That’s not to say that mitigating risk isn’t and won’t always be an important role for lawyers, but when the focus truly shifts to one that’s more aligned with the broader business objectives, that’s when we’ll see real change. I think 2022 is the year that will mark the beginning of that shift.

Helena Hallgarn, Co-Founder of Virtual Intelligence VQ, VP of ELTA, and member of the Changing Legal think tank.

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

We would like to see a more developed market for legal services where we look at the delivery of legal services in the same way as we do with the delivery of health services.

There you can find different kinds of professionals and different kinds of services depending on your specific needs; you can contact your nurse for vaccination, your chiropractor for your aching back or your doctor for qualified medical expertise. In the same way you should be able to find different solutions and services to handle your legal issues, without always involving a lawyer.

This means we have to realise that there is a need for different competences. We need to understand that multidisciplinary teams do not mean a group of different kinds of lawyers (see Bloomberg Law’s Legal Operations Survey 2021) but a group with different competences outside law to complement the lawyers. The legal function can then include different kinds of professionals with expertise that includes computer science, project management, technology, data analytics etc. The purpose of this function is not to provide lawyers, but to provide accessible, cost-effective, predictable legal products and services that prevent and solve legal issues. 

And what do you think will really happen next year?

During the last years, the enthusiasm about legal tech has been great and many law firms and start-ups have been talking about innovations on the legal market. Focus has been on tech solutions, on buying or building different systems, on teaching lawyers more about tech, on telling lawyers how they ought to change their working methods. Since it has been difficult to implement all these new solutions, we have heard about the need for more training to be able to use these different systems. Another response has been to focus more on Legal Design by approaching the challenge in the development phase.

In reality though, most initiatives have been about using tech to become more efficient in daily work. Therefore, we will see a move from looking at it as “innovative” to a more realistic look at these initiatives as regular business development, in the same way as businesses are developed in other industries.

Instead of being innovative in defining the need for a new system or solution, focus will be on the customer need. When we can define a business case based on a specific customer need, we have a much better start of the project. We can focus on an understanding of the user behavior and design a solution that supports that behavior. This way we will see much more tools and solutions that really can support and enhance the lawyer. These new tools might not even need any initial training since they are adopted for the users.

Richard Mabey, CEO, Juro

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

I’d like to see contracts become smarter. The first step towards smarter contracting will be a migration away from unstructured data formats (think Microsoft Word) and a move towards structured, browser-native document formats. If this migration happens, we should start to see really exciting applications emerge. Smart contracts, whether underpinned by blockchain or not, are the logical next step to digital contracting and I’d like to see some traction in this area in 2022.

And what do you think will really happen next year?

We’ll see a continuing migration of lawyers to browser-native contract formats, driven by the demands of their clients. But this is as far as we will get. Lawyers will drag their heels a little on sticking with Microsoft Word, which is a paradigm shift away from the ‘smart contract’ future I’d like to see. Still, browser-native contracting will reduce contracting cycles and increase collaboration between lawyers and their internal/external clients. This is a good thing.

Emma Sorrell, Innovation Manager, Burges Salmon

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

 An important area for us when considering on-boarding new legal technologies this year has been looking at integration capabilities. It would be great to see efforts continuing around integrations, enabling us to consolidate our tools and processes and provide a better experience for the end user.  Point solutions introduce fragmented processes which can be a significant barrier to adoption of a tool.

Data is an important area and it would be good to see firms getting better at capturing and using data. We have seen from other industries the insights and opportunities you can uncover using AI/predictive analytics, but there needs to be good data captured in the first place. There are challenges to this for law firms including client confidentiality, ability to share data and lots of unstructured data is trapped in Microsoft Word documents. More data driven insights would be an exciting prospect.

Anyone using the term ‘non-lawyer’ is automatically put on Father Christmas’ naughty list!

And what do you think will really happen next year?

There will be further consolidation in the legaltech market, which will also help with the integration challenge.  Automation will be an area of focus, but this needs to go hand in hand with process improvement ensuring good well thought through processes are automated.

We will continue to see a growth in alternative career paths and legal operations roles, and more roles that can bridge between legal and technology. The last few years have taught us the importance and power of building out multi-disciplinary teams and getting the right people with the right skillsets doing the right kind of work. Firms looking to recruit more people who are not from a traditional law background, especially graduates with technology and data skills, will increase. However, particularly in the age of ‘the great resignation’, we will need to see firms willing to offer the right incentives, career paths and attractive working environments in order to attract and retain talent.

We have definitely started to see more collaboration between firms, vendors and other institutions in the legaltech community. There is so much we can learn and collaborate on through forming partnerships, and I believe this trend will continue as we enter the new year more (virtually) connected than ever.

Peter Lee, Partner at Simmons & Simmons and CEO of the firm’s legal engineering business, Wavelength (combined answer)

2022 is going to be an exciting year! We will see continuing challenges around post-pandemic ways of working and the war on talent. This will lead to opportunities for legal operations professionals in the best private practice and in-house teams to set new blueprints for delivering legal services. At the same time, the planet is burning and so Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives and the race to net zero is going to be on the top of company and citizens’ agendas. There are significant roles for legal technologists, legal engineers and data experts to ensure we can measure, react and comply with our urgent obligations as Earthlings.

The Artificial Lawyer will be pleased the hear that AI will become even more pervasive in our lives, as will the demand for it to be suitably understood and controlled. The EU’s draft AI Regulation, when it comes into force, will be significant and we are seeing other jurisdictions follow suit. Technologists and lawyers will need to work together to create AI Explainability Statements to help people understand how the Artificial Intelligence in various products and apps work, including when, how and why the technology is being used. All this work is going to lead to further instances of diverse ‘business of law’ professionals working with lawyers (or ‘non-engineers’ as we will call them) – leading to more professional parity in the sector, new business models and client offerings.

Jessica Lazarus, Director, EY

What I want to see in 2022:

In-house legal teams taking ownership of contractual data and taking a more central role in the business in terms of growth and the transformation agenda.

What I think will happen:

Increased implementation of CLM platforms should help clients to extract data but it’s what they do with that data that is key.

Matt Leopold, Head of Brand, PR and Content Marketing at LexisNexis

What would I like to see happen in 2022?

Lawyers and law firms trusting in the cloud. If security services are willing to entrust all of the UK’s intelligence to Amazon, maybe law firms can keep client letters on the cloud too!  An openness to fully embracing a cloud stack would open so many new opportunities for growth and efficiencies.

Changed business practices that are more client centric.  There really isn’t a problem in the world where a bit of legal advice or guidance wouldn’t be helpful – from the individual on the street to the biggest companies. But – lawyers are too often seen as the person of last resort.  Why? The current business models are often perceived as barriers.  So – I hope that the legal industry embraces technology that speeds up their work.  Then, this time can be invested in spending time with clients, talking, guiding and adding more value.

What will actually happen?

I think that we will see the cloud creeping more and more into the legal tech stack. It has started and will continue to scale and grow.

I think there will be a renewed focus on the legal workflow.  How can technology help lawyers do more in less time?  Losing focus when switching from task to task or source to source is probably the next big productivity gain in the world of the law.

An acceleration through 2022 for regulatory and compliance tech.  There is only so much a lawyer or compliance professional can do.  There are some really clever bits of tech on the market that will give the hard-working regulatory professionals a hand staying on top of the workload. 

Kelly Harbour, Director of Client Relations & Innovation, Goulston & Storrs, Member of SALI and Changing Legal think tank.

I would like to see increased adoption of standards across the legal industry in 2022, particularly with the upcoming release of the SALI Alliance’s Legal Matter Specification Standard 2.0 and the open API. There are tremendous benefits to be unlocked by corporate legal departments, legal service providers, and legaltech companies when we’re all using the same language to classify parties, matters, industries, document types, and more. Legal service providers get much richer information about what they are doing and for whom, which can be leveraged in a thousand ways from business development to knowledge management to pricing.

Legaltech companies can accelerate implementation timelines if their customers are using standard fields and values. And, corporate legal departments can capture apples to apples time and cost information for work kept in-house and sent to various legal service providers. When looking at cost compared to outcomes and satisfaction with client experience, these legal departments could really begin to get their arms around value.

What will happen is we’ll see more legal service providers adopting the standard, which may drive adoption among legaltech companies. Most law firms struggle with matter classification and the LMSS offers a solid solution compared to the time and effort required to maintain and expand a firm’s bespoken classifications. The legaltech companies are going to have to grapple with graph databases, which will be a challenge for some. Pressure from firms could accelerate the addition of this compatibility to legaltech companies’ roadmaps. I’m less certain of corporate legal departments’ adoption of the standard, mostly because they have so many competing priorities for their time, and a project like this requires precious resources. It’s a shame, because of all parties, they stand the most to gain from adoption – and ensuring that their law firms do the same.

Jerry Levine, Chief Evangelist, ContractPodAI

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

For 2022, I would like to see continued adoption of new technologies (with the requisite security and technical precautions) by law departments and law firms. We’ve all gotten so much better at remote work, and I don’t see that changing – it’s our reality.

My deeper hope is that we’re going to continue to see the transition from “company lawyer” to “strategic advisor,” which benefits the profession in so many ways. Programs like the O-Shaped Lawyer (in the UK) and similar technological programs for business and law in the US will have had their first cohorts of young lawyers out in the market, bringing new ideas with them. And, of course, we’ll see more discussion of automation, Artificial Intelligence, and blockchain in all areas of the law market.

What do you really think will happen?

Automation of tasks will continue unabated, from the implementation of new tools, to reducing costs, easing labour, increasing efficiency, and (hopefully) making work-life balance better for attorneys. Legal Ops roles will continue to skyrocket in postings, since the hybrid lawyer-technologist role is the way things are moving.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of talking about smart contracts or blockchain contracts. However, I do think we’re going to see “smarter contracts,” powered by automation, collaboration, and natural language processing . This will be complemented by major growth in legal design — not just making what lawyers do prettier, but working on the communication skills, strategic planning, and ease of understanding that lead to more effective law practice.

Shruti Ajitsaria, Partner, Head of Fuse, Allen & Overy

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

I get to work with really interesting and exciting tech companies on a daily basis and I am very lucky that I can then build bridges between them, our lawyers and our clients. While for many firms ‘legaltech’ and ‘innovation’ are buzzwords, at A&O we live and breathe it. Next year, I  would love to collaborate more with clients.

Having hosted a team from the Bank of England and the FCA on a joint digital regulatory reporting project and working with the Loan Market Association and cohort member Avvoka on a document automation platform has given us significant learnings. Our aim in Fuse is to foster a culture of digital innovation in the legal sector and through these sorts of projects, I am certain that we can achieve that.

This year, I have also noticed an increase in female founders as well as more ethnic diversity in the sector and I really want that to continue next year and beyond. One of the things that I have learned through Fuse is that diversity should be celebrated. With the evolution of the legaltech market and the general legal landscape, it is clear that you don’t have to look or speak in a particular way to succeed. The more we embrace that, the more we can accomplish.

And what do you think will really happen next year?

We know how important technology is to law firm management and that it has had a major impact in the way that lawyers work. Next year, I think that we will continue to see law firms making use of legaltech part of their key offering to clients. Clients want to see real efficiencies and cost saving from their lawyers and I think we will increasingly see law firms who don’t make a point of highlighting their tech capabilities being overlooked in favour of firms who do.

Nnamdi Emelifeonwu, CEO, Definely

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

Whilst this may not sound as exciting as talking about a new technology or its application, it would be great to see technology vendors, corporates and law firms collaborating on moving to a standardised or uniform approach to information security. This will help reduce friction in the innovation cycle and allow all parties to increase their focus on improving the lawyer (or legal) experience.

And what do you think will really happen next year?

Whilst the pace of M&A and funding in the LegalTech space will likely continue, I think we will also begin to see the fruits of these acquisitions and fundraises with new products entering the market and the intensity of competition increasing. Those firms that have used the pandemic period to strategise and build out their tech offering will pull even further ahead of their more analogue peers.

Olga Mack, CEO, Parley Pro, (combined answer)

Contracts are becoming more readable and accessible. Consequently, they enable more employees, business partners, and others to see, judge, and question your contractual practices. As a result, contracts will increasingly tell stories about a socially responsible corporate citizen that behaves ethically. In other words, they are not merely hidden, static instruments to manage risks and document value.

I am very excited to see a more prominent movement toward responsible contracting and operationalizing corporate responsibility initiatives. Contract content will be reviewed and automated not just for value and risk to the business but also for the stories they tell about your company’s values and identity. In the process, lawyers will continue serving as strategic advisers who help organizations build positive reputations, behave ethically, and retain great employees—all while increasing profits.

James Quinn, CEO, Clarilis

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

Initiatives to standardise legal processes and documentation continue apace.

LegalTech becomes a pillar of every firm’s talent acquisition and retention strategy as a result of candidates’ demand for tech as key component of working life.

Every firm evaluates the ROI of every LegalTech project on an ongoing basis (based on perfect data!).

Matters billed on an hourly basis are further reduced, thereby aligning firms and their clients on the quest for efficiency.

Budget for knowledge and innovation within law firms significantly increases (in line with the value they bring).

Automation in all forms (toolkit and complex automation to meet the needs of the business) becomes a key component of BAU process.

Smart contracts go mainstream!

And what do you think will really happen next year?

The market won’t move as fast as tech enthusiasts would like, that is for sure – although the momentum and enthusiasm for LegalTech engendered by the pandemic will continue, with the pace of adoption increasing throughout 2022.  Watch out for knee jerk reactions from firms that are behind the LegalTech curve.

Competitive tensions within the legal market (particularly in the UK) further accelerate the pace of LegalTech adoption.

Highly marketable legal talent will increasingly demand LegalTech from firms to aid job satisfaction, efficiency and workplace wellbeing.

Initiatives to standardise legal processes and documentation continue apace.

Each LegalTech’s ESG credentials become a significant factor in the tech selection process.

Each law firms’ ESG agenda will accelerate the pace of digital adoption (must-have, no longer nice-to-have and key component of client procurement process).

The LegalTech market is only going to get more noisy – cutting through the noise will be a key to firms making progress in 2022 (identify the problem you are trying to solve and work back from there).

Tom Martin, CEO, LawDroid

What I’d like to see happen in 2022:

I’d like to see the legal profession innovate to increase the nature and the quality of their services as well as expand the scope of the demographic they serve. Rather than solely cater to some middle class and higher income individuals, lawyers make a concerted effort to design legal services that can be delivered affordably across all income levels. This approach would benefit the public as well as ensure long term growth and profits for lawyers as a whole.

What I think will really happen:

Lawyers will continue to do the same old, same old and use legal tech for innovation window dressing. Consumer-facing legal tech companies will multiply and thrive in delivering scalable legal solutions to all. The total addressable latent market for legal services dwarfs the B2B legal tech market. De-regulation, innovation sandoxes and alternative business structure frameworks across North America, backed by venture capital, will explode with opportunity.

Colin Levy, Director of Legal and Evangelist, Malbek

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

I’d like to see a continued emphasis on removing barriers to the legal system for those most in need of legal services. There was much effort and much talk about re-regulation and that was exciting to see, but naturally, there is much more that needs to be done. I see technology being a key player in this effort and we have already seen how powerful technology can be and lowering barriers. The biggest impediment to technology’s role remains protectionism, see for example, the TIKD  decision out of the Florida Supreme Court.

I’d like to see further collaboration between legal departments and legal tech companies and, separately, more collaboration between legal departments and legal tech companies. I see a lot more being able to get done (and more learning and growth happening) when there is such kinds of collaboration. I also think that collaboration is a key way in facilitating cultural change which remains one of the most persistent barriers to the adoption of technology in the legal arena.

I’d like to see less hype around AI and more realistic information around the current capabilities of AI.

And what do you think will really happen next year?

Barriers to the legal system will remain, but more states will examine how to potentially lower those barriers.

There will remain some tension between law firms and legal tech companies as the billable hour will remain a strong financial barrier to efficiency gains that legal tech can bring, but there will indeed be further collaboration between some firms and legal departments and legal tech companies. Much of this will depend on the leadership and appetite (and readiness) for change. Certainly, the pandemic will remain a factor in this throughout 2022.

Nick Watson, CEO, Ruby Datum,

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

More collaboration, between the smaller firms especially, to band together and jointly procure platforms, and develop bespoke offerings.

What do you think will really happen next year?

We’re about to see the biggest surge in demand for Legal Tech in history. Many firms are sitting on piles of cash and are struggling to recruit lawyers, even with large salaries. Focus will soon shift more towards transformation, with technology and people at the heart.

Nimrod Aharon, Co-Founder & CEO of Litigate

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

Dispute resolutions teams will have increasingly sophisticated tech available to them to help drive efficiencies and productivity. But I would like to see the legal community harvesting this cutting edge technology for social impact, as well as improved efficiencies. Legal tech vendors are equally responsible for encouraging positive action. For instance, by supporting pro-bono work with AI-powered litigation platforms and making the manual tasks in these cases more cost-effective, we can all be part of accelerating change in climate, competition, privacy, and other urgent challenges of our generation.

What do you think will actually happen?

In 2022 we will see more dispute resolution teams rethinking their technology stack for everything before and after the e-disclosure stage of a dispute. We will see the standardisation of smart tools which extract the raw facts and legal issues from case documents, so lawyers can explore and analyse these critical, sentence-level building blocks, which they can’t manage using folders.

Jorn Vanysacker, Co-Founder, Henchman

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

More success stories; Higher adoption/usage of legal tech.

More ‘valuable’ tools that demonstrate a clear and immediate ROI

Improved client intimacy due to use of (legal) technology (use of tech freeing up time that can be spend on high-value tasks and client-facing interactions).

More firms will explore pricing models that go beyond the billable hour (predictability of fees will increase and pricing based on value vs. hours spent => both enabled by technology).

And what do you think will really happen next year?

Platforms and tools that solve challenges with the lowest level of effort and maintenance and highest level of usability, will win from their competitors.

USA is on the rise. Europe will follow with more budget and appetite.

More overlap in functionalities of legal tech vendors. A wave of consolidation will kick in.

Ed Sohn, SVP, Head of Solutions, Factor

In 2022, I would like to see how the ALSP market can walk the talk.  We live in a world of significant legal change, with serious changes to how businesses do business in a post-COVID world, remote working and its impact on commercial real estate, a war for talent, big technological leaps forward, along with inflation and a slowly rising rates environment.

The ALSP market is a significant force in the global legal services market.  At the same time, the differentiation between independent ALSPs and their captive, law-firm-run equivalents will become more pronounced in terms of both results and market penetration. Organizations will be traversing the maturity curve in their engagements with alternative providers that are ready to integrate more deeply with the modern needs of the legal department

What I believe will happen is that a few legal departments will unlock the real potential of enhancing their operating model through NewLaw providers, setting an example for the industry, while much of the market will still be taking their first steps.

Daniel Porus, Chief Commercial Officer, Legatics

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

While we have seen the positive impact that remote working has had on legal tech adoption and the flexibility that it has provided us in relation to our working arrangements, I miss the benefits associated with collaborating in-person with members of our team and our customers. I hope that 2022 will provide more opportunities for in-person collaboration as both legal technology companies and law firms spend more time back in the office. 

And what do you think will really happen next year?

I think the reality is that hybrid working is here for the long-term and further adaptations will be needed to provide for hybrid in-person and remote meetings.  As we restart in-person meetings, I think that further investment will need to be made on technology that can facilitate effective collaboration for not just those in the room but also for those who are joining remotely.  As we continue to work in this hybrid environment, I think that adoption of legal tech tools that provide for collaboration and closing deals in an interactive, online environment will also continue to increase.

Noah Waisberg, CEO, Zuva

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

The Canadian Men’s and Women’s hockey teams win gold medals at the Beijing Winter Olympics, continuing our historical dominance in this sport.

And what do you think will really happen next year?

Software builders will incorporate best-in-class AI made by others instead of trying to build it all from scratch (and achieving mediocre results)

Dan Broderick, CEO and Co-Founder, BlackBoiler

In 2022, I would like to see companies be more thoughtful about identifying what problem they are trying to solve in their contracting initiatives. Rather than focusing on the latest technology platform and adapting their contracting to that platform, organizations should first focus on identifying their contracting problems and then build out their tech strategy, which will ultimately help them better evaluate CLM tools and providers who can help solve their problems.

However, due to pressure and resource constraints, I’m afraid too many companies will still simply jump on the newest technology before identifying the true problem they are trying to solve. Hopefully by the end of 2022 firms will understand they need to first take a deep dive into their people, processes, and technology to eliminate implementation problems and disappointed buyers.

Julia Salasky, CEO, Legl

What would you like to see happen in 2022?

A mindset shift at law firms to be more client-centric, and meet evolving client expectations re. digital delivery of legal services.

Adoption of more agile ways of working at law firms – iterating on processes, exploration of tech to improve efficiencies across the business, real analysis of what it means to effectively and efficiently deliver legal services.

Better focus on data and metrics (outside the classic PEP and billable hours) so law firms have a multidimensional view of business.

What do you really think will happen?

A tech consolidation post-pandemic – removing patchwork of point solutions in favour of single platforms that can provide a backbone and rich data insights.

Move to digitisation of legal services will continue – train has left the station, there’s no going back to pre-pandemic manual approaches now.

More demand from lawyers to law firm management for better tech that frees them up to focus on substantive work and not on the admin, (and continued demand for flexible/remote working options).

Thanks to everyone who took part and for the excellent responses and thoughts. There is enough here to keep us all going well into 2022!