Jan 4 2012

Top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2012


I did my review yesterday so let’s crack on and look at what I think will be emerging technology for Legal in 2012 or that will be technology that will feature heavily in Legal in 2012.

Speech Recognition : Yes I know I predicted this in 2010 but I really think we will start to see more uptake of this technology in Legal. It’ll creep more into consumer and as such we’ll become more acustomed to speaking to machines. Read more of my thoughts on speech recognition in this post from November last year.

Windows Phone/Android/iPhone : Or more to the point, the death of the blackberry in Legal. After years of being the corporate tool of choice (remember when having a BB was a bit of a status symbol!!), RIM through major failure of service and also taking their eye off what they were really good at (email access) have gone the way of the fax machine. As for the replacement? Well the last two on the list are obvious, but I’m sticking my neck on the line and predicting the order as written! I’ll post up why I think this in an future post.

SharePoint : Now this is a tricky one. I’m going to sit on the fence for a little longer here as to which way it will go, but in 2012 I think we’ll conclude one way or the other whether or not SharePoint will or will not become a viable Legal DMS (Document Management System).

The return of the laptop/netbook : not that they ever really went away. I read a great post before Christmas that really chimed, it was entitled “If you want to look old, get an iPad”. I gauged my 9 year old’s opinion as to which tech he’d prefer, answer a laptop. Apparently roblox doesn’t work on an iPad! Seriously though, the iPad is nice kit and until I upgraded my Smartphone from Windows Mobile (old version) I hankered after one. But now, I’m with Larry’s 27 year old son (albeit a bit older!) I think they will have a place but for me a lightweight ultrathin laptop would be preferable and I think more will start to feel the same.

A new vendor emerging as a major Legal IT player : to me the market is ripe for a new Legal focussed player to emerge. I’m not sure where, but there seem to be plenty of opportunities for technology focus in Legal that aren’t being addressed or existing technology that is perhaps being forgotten as the traditional players diversify into other verticals. Now vendors don’t go spamming my comments with products, as I won’t allow them through! But feel free to let us know why you think this might be you without product placement.

That’s my top 5, nothing revolutionary for this year (although predicting Wp7 as a major player could be seen as beyond revolutionary!). There are things from the last few years that will continue in 2012, Office 2010 becoming the default platform and IM continuing to proliferate around Legal. But these feel more business as usual now. So, I’ve kept it fairly generic and it is probably geared more at mid sized firms and above. But would love to hear your comments on the above or what you think will be big in 2012 (especially from those in smaller firms).


Jan 3 2012

Top 5 Legal IT technologies – a two year review


Before I take my annual look of emerging technology for Legal in 2012 or technology that will feature heavily in Legal in 2012, let’s review what I thought would be key things over the last couple of years.

My 2010 list was as follows:

  • Mobile Applications
  • Search
  • Office 2010/Windows 7
  • Instant Messaging
  • Speech Recognition

And then in 2011 was:

  • Glue Tech
  • Microsoft Lync
  • YouTube
  • Mobile Applications
  • Office 2010 and Windows 7

Now given the similarity between the lists it’s clear that things don’t move at a fast pace across the whole of Legal. But I didn’t do a bad job (alright some were bleeding obvious, but they still caught some Legal IT vendors on the back foot. Office 2010 anyone?)

Off the mark! OK YouTube hasn’t been the success I thought, but elsewhere it’s going where I thought it would (see YouTube in Schools), it makes sense to me and so maybe soon we’ll see something appear. Maybe one of the Legal IT vendors (HP Autonomy hint hint) could provide a YouTube channel with product videos (like WorkSite how-tos for example!!). Glue Tech is one to watch still, there is use of this technology of course, but I thought there would be a real rush to this last year. Speech Recognition I think I was a couple of years too early and Search, well let’s put that down as a bad idea!

Mobile Apps,  well the apps themselves haven’t really been making waves in Legal as I thought . Sure there are a few Legal specific ones out there, but I was thinking more of an internal Marketplace/Appstore for firms own apps. But there certainly is a move by lawyers to more personal/consumer devices (iOS, Android, WP7) and away from the controlled blackberry environment which may speed this up over the next couple of years.

Microsoft Lync/IM, now this is taking off in firms. It feels to me like email circa 1995 at the moment, contacting someone in the firm is now easy but outside is still a bit tricky and clunky. I’m sure we’re almost at a tiping point and corporate IM will explode like email did in the late 90’s.

Office 2010/Windows 7, come on who hasn’t implemented something or at least started a project to implement these two? For UK firms it was obvious this was going to happen, almost all of us were Office 2003 and XP and so it was bound to happen. Why then were so many Legal IT vendors caught out and behind the release of Office 2010? I could fill a blog post with the problems we found along the way, mainly with plug-ins to Office from 3rd parties causing issues!

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at 2012!


Jan 1 2011

Top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2011


Happy New Year to you all!

Hope you had a good 2010 and I wish you all a great 2011. As per last year I thought I’d try a prediction of the technology areas that I will be big for Legal IT in 2011, so here it is my top 5 2011 list of legal IT technologies.

At #5 we have a new entry: More a grouping of technologies I’ve termed "Glue Tech”. The technology that sits between one or more core Legal IT services. Technology like IntApp that uses information in existing systems and applies logic to other systems. Also bespoke developed applications to join systems in ways that provide extra benefit for the lawyer. I also include workflow and case management applications like VisualFiles in this category, a recent visit to a smaller law firm highlighted some of the benefits joined up applications in VisualFiles can make to a business process.

Down two places at #4 we have Microsoft Lync. I think the instant messaging aspect of lync will continue to push into law firms in 2011, especially with the introduction of Office 2010. But the other features of Lync may take longer than 2011 to become widespread in law firms.

New in at #3 is a technology that will be very familiar, but maybe new to law firms and that is YouTube. Or at least similar online video capabilities, this has huge potential for IT training etc. Think about it, if you’ve a tech problem at home who hasn’t searched for a how-to video from YouTube?

Up three places to this years #2 is Mobile Applications. The Smartphone is here, the iPad is on a march and with Android and BlackBerry tablets are starting to come to market. That mobile application market that has exploded in the consumer arena is surely ready to crack the business market. We just need to crack the risk/IT security aspect to it!

And up two to take this years #1 spot is Office 2010 and Windows 7. Sure it’s not sexy tech and yes it’s Microsoft centric. No, it’s not social or cloud computing, but it is the bread and butter stuff of law firms whether you like it or not. Office 2003 and Windows XP need to retire and this is the year.

So the top tech in legal IT may not be cutting edge, but it reads to me like a true corporate IT list. Nothing frivolous, but no longer 5 years behind. Behind these applications I suspect there will be a push for technologies to control the vast amounts of data law firms are now generating, whether this is cloud or self hosted I’m not sure. If the legal and risk aspects can be ironed out then maybe cloud will start to grow.

As for social computing? I don’t think there will be any killer application that makes it’s way into Legal, but all the top five will bring some degree of social computing with them.

So that’s my five, am I on the mark or way off? Let me know in the comments.


Dec 23 2010

End of year review


So the end of a another year of blogging. I started this blog at the start of 2009, right at the start of real turmoil in the Legal market. The worst recession in decades was in full swing and law firms were in a massive restructuring exercise that for some is still going on some two years later.

Over those two years in terms of Legal IT we’ve seen some of the big names of the past consolidate, some new players emerge and Legal IT become less niche in terms of IT and move closer to the main stream in terms of technology and demands on the IT departments.

In terms of this blog it’s been more successful than I could have imagined, it now averages about 1500 visits per month to the site and about 230 subscribers each day to the RSS feed. And this year I was short listed for the Computer Weekly blog awards.

So all that remains for this year is to take a look at my predictions for the top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2010 made at the start of the year.

#5 Mobile Applications

Well given the proliferation of iPads at ILTA and the rise of the Android and iPhone’s I would say I was right on the mobile device being big in 2010. But what about the Applications? Well until the devices become more widespread I don’t think there will much more than email or document access applications in law firms (there of course are plenty of Apps that can and will be used by lawyers as personal productivity applications).

#4 – Search

Lots of talk in 2010, with a few firms bringing in pilots for enterprise search.  Cost, integration and the “separate application” is holding this back I suspect. For those firms though who are iManage customers the IDOL engine is being introduced as part of their WorkSite 8.5 upgrades, this will bring experience of a major enterprise search engine to those depts.

#3 – Office 2010/Windows 7

Now this may not be “live” in many firms in 2010, but who hasn’t started looking at one of both of these products during 2010?

#2 Instant Messaging

Starting to make waves in 2010. It will be a slow uptake (a bit like email was back in the early 90’s) but like email I’m sure it will take hold. Maybe Lync will bring it front and centre next year?

#1 Speech Recognition

Well I was wrong on this one! Maybe more lawyers typing their own documents combined with good workflow in Digital Dictation systems is enough to cope with the shift in secretarial/fee earner ratios?

So that’s it, I may have been slightly off the mark with some technologies. But the others, maybe I was just a little early but they are starting to make it into some law firms. What do you think? Leave me some comments on what you think have been the main technologies making their mark in Legal in 2010.

So finally to finish 2010 a thank you to Legal IT Professionals who kindly publish my content on their site. And a big thank you to all who read and comment both here and over there. I hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year!


Jan 1 2010

Top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2010


Happy New Year to you all!

Hope you had a good 2009 and I wish you all a great 2010. For me what better way for me to start the blog this year than conforming with a blogger tradition and compiling a list.

I thought I’d try a prediction of the technology areas that I will be big for Legal It in 2010, so here it is my top 5 list of legal IT technologies for 2010.


#5 Mobile Applications

The Smartphone is well and truly main stream now (thanks mainly to the iPhone, but also Windows Phone, BlackBerry’s and Android phones). And 2010 will be the year it moves from just being an email device in the hands of fee earners. It’ll be the year of an explosion of business applications on mobile devices.

#4 – Search

I think this will be a big year for search technology, in particular IDOL. This will initially be driven by the numbers of firms on Autonomy’s iManage WorkSite product moving to the latest 8.5 version with IDOL. But once it’s in I think search will start to grow as a key technology in 2010.

#3 – Office 2010/Windows 7

After 18 months of “make do” most firms will start to look at these two products together. After all I suspect almost all law firms are on Windows XP still and Office 2003, right? I also think there will be a fair few mid-sized firms who go down an alternative route and go to OpenOffice in 2010 (like Ford & Warren Solicitors in the UK. A Law Firm in Leeds with 200 desktops are using Openoffice 3.0 now).

#2 Instant Messaging

MSN Messenger comes to Legal IT! After years of being the #1 consumer product for Generations Y & Z this will be the year Instant Messaging breaks into the corporate world in a big way (including Legal IT). There will be lots of arguments against, but 2010 will be the year for IM starts becoming a standard business tool.

And Finally……

#1 Speech Recognition

I remember this being touted as the killer technology back when I started in Legal IT in the mid to late 90’s. But the technology has advanced sufficiently to warrant a return in a big way in 2010 (Nuance have been working on the technology and have acquired all those names of old, IBM ViaVoice, Dragon Dictation etc – just this week they bought SpinVox).

I think also the general shift in secretarial/fee earner ratios will mean fee earners will do more of their own document production (also I think younger lawyers are more comfortable doing this anyway). Speech recognition is perfect for addressing this, giving you a quick start on your document. 


So that’s my list, one for a review at the end of the year. What do you think? A accurate list or a sure fire way to get myself on a list of infamous quotes on 31st December 2010?

It’ll take a lot to beat this quote, my favourite from a list circulated this week on twitter:

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” 1977 — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) 

Although when you think about it now, he’s probably right. Do we really want a computer or just an internet device in our home?