Top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2013 and a review of 2012


Well it’s that time of year again, a time when TV is full of reviews of 2012. Also a time when blogs review predictions from last year and look forward to 2013 in a hope that they can look back next year and say “I told you so”! Who am I to buck the trend, so let’s take a look at what I had last year as key Legal IT technologies in 2012:

First I had was Speech Recognition. Well to be honest Siri continues to be a gimmick and this technology in Legal still isn’t making the significant inroads I thought it might. I am still convinced it will make waves in law firms for a couple of reasons. One, in an age where law firms need to keep costs low this technology will surely prevail and two, technology firms are all continuing to push the boundaries of what this technology can do. But it does look like this is going to be a very slow burner.

Next were a couple of technologies where I was way off, first was SharePoint which kind of fizzled away as a hot topic in 2012 and then I madly suggested a big return of the laptop/netbook! Oh how wrong was I? On the former I’m now happy to admit that I just don’t think SharePoint will be a major player in Legal IT as a document management system. As to the latter, well that really was my my “Decca moment“. I ended up buying an iPad and realised the netbook was dead!

The final two predictions for 2012 are still wait and see, a new vendor emerging as a major Legal IT player and the death of the blackberry. I still think the market is ripe for a new player in Legal IT, I’m not sure exactly what this will be though yet. But I’m not convinced it will be a “disruptive tech” company, I’m thinking it will be a company that delivers something law firms already do, just in a much better way. As for the blackberry it’s wait and see, personally I think BBX will be too late to the market and if those first devices are purely touchscreen that’ll be game over!


So what about 2013, well I think the death of the BlackBerry is still in the mix. If I’m being more specific I think it will be BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) that will be it’s end and as such it will probably be a slow demise as law firms take time to extract the BlackBerry from their estates. To use an analogy of spectacles from my school days, the BB will end up being the NHS specs for the law firm, handed out to those who aren’t fussed about tech or as temporary replacements for the lost or broken iPhones!

Which brings me onto BYOD, it’s been talked about throughout 2012 but this year it will become reality and lead to a real look at data security. It’s time to make the shift from securing the hardware to securing the data on it. Moving the passwords down from the devices to the apps. Stop the focus on locking down hardware and move to facilitating secure use of data on any device. In Legal IT we’d better prepare to enable this as our lawyers are going to bring in their iPads and use them regardless.

Next I think bespoke systems (or at least flexible systems) will start to make a come back. Remember Hatton Blue anyone? The modern versions of this and the rise of ABS law firms will see firms look at their processes and find more efficient ways to do things. This will be much more than case management software, more a mix of case management, online communication and document automation.

Cloud storage I think will be a big topic still through 2013. In particular for Legal IT it will be a specific cloud offering that will be all the rage, a simple dropbox or skydrive type solution. In this area in Legal there are two big players that already have their hat in the ring. Workshare’s SkyDox and HP Autonomy’s LinkSite, at the moment I think the later just has the edge. But there are also smaller vendors offering integration of your DMS into products like I’ll put up a blog post about this in the coming weeks.

And finally that big one, Windows 8 makes it to the top of my top 5 for 2013. Sure no law firm will run a desktop refresh with Windows 8, but all those replacement laptops and desktops at home WILL come with Windows 8. People will use it and (eventually) start to realise the potential, software vendors will write for it and the hybrid laptop/tablets will start to become the big BYOD item of 2013. Law firms by the end of the year will need to cater for Windows 8 whether they like it or not!

So that’s it my top 5 for 2013.

5 – Death of the BlackBerry, rise of the other three (iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8) in law firms

4 – BYOD

3 – Bespoke systems (Q: are they still 4GL’s??) make a comeback

2 – Cloud storage, specifically “Legal dropbox”

1 – Windows 8