Across FTI Technology, our teams have the opportunity to work on some of the most complex, high-stakes and innovative matters in the world. While 2020 was anything but typical, the work of helping clients problem-solve through technology was a familiar constant. In reflecting back on the lessons learned from the year and the related implications for the future of the legal industry, our global teams have gathered numerous predictions for what outside counsel and in-house legal teams can expect to face in the new year. A snapshot of these are shared below.
“The new year will bring a continuation of efforts to adjust to a new way of working. As part of that, it will be essential for all the systems and applications we interact with in the legal technology space to be designed with a mobile-first approach. A decade ago, nobody would have believed we’d regularly interact with email on our mobile phones, yet here I am typing this prediction on my mobile from the comfort of my sofa. There’s no reason why legal technology shouldn’t follow the same path."
“Also in 2021, organisations will be much more open to leveraging the technology and resources they already have to solve new challenges in innovative ways. Building targeted solutions that adapt existing technologies and making better use of established platforms will be especially appealing as teams face budgetary constraints and operational concerns arising from COVID-19.”
“Corporate legal teams have faced intense pressure and challenge over the last year. In 2021, they will continue to adjust to a myriad of responsibilities, reductions in force, hiring constraints and the challenges of working across remote teams. As a result, many corporations are likely to increase their reliance on managed services that fill gaps and help offset the burden on their employees.”
“The new year is likely to bring an increase in legal work on a number of fronts. Over the last six months, there’s been a steady increase in IP theft cases, and such activity is likely to continue increasing over the course of 2021. Similarly, we’ve recently seen reports of more movement than ever before in the class action arena in the U.K. and across Europe, which will also remain on an upward swing. As a result, demand for specialist support and ‘on-demand’ resources to handle increasing workloads will drive more interest in managed document review offerings and cloud-based e-discovery deployments.”
“Several interesting trends will begin to materialize in the technology space. For one, anywhere operations and turbo-charged digital transformation will drive multi-cloud and managed service adoption. The economic crunch will also drive an uptick M&A activity, in turn drawing increased scrutiny from competition authorities on big tech and data use and sharing. I think we’ll also see Data Protection Authorities increasingly focusing on data subject rights and automating privacy controls on data.”
“As companies emerge from the pandemic and legal teams return to internal initiatives that had been put on hold, such as improvements to contract lifecycle management (CLM), new internal PMOs and project teams will be formed with increased frequency. These groups will be prioritized to shop, develop and implement solutions including contract management systems, contract analytics, contract process outsourcing and legacy data remediation. In the rebound, the attention to and urgency on these activities will feel like that which is normally reserved for regulatory compliance initiatives.”
"The current global internet infrastructure will become overwhelmed as the demand for additional bandwidth increases. The ability to have high quality video calls and make large data transfers has become vital to business success. Just imagine a day without internet. You can’t do much. The quick Amazon purchase, that virtual HITT workout session and that important presentation you planned to deliver over MS Teams all go away. The increase of disruptors such as IoT devices becoming second nature, the introduction of Starlink and 5G will take broadband internet to millions of people who have never used the internet before. Only about 60% of the world’s population has internet, but that will continue to change in 2021. I'm not sure if “the internet” is ready for the other 40% of the world to come online."
“The sheer volume of data and sources may begin to shift the recent stagnancy in the use of AI and machine. A key thing for skeptics to remember is the numerous ways machine learning technology can be used. It can be a tool in the toolbox that could potentially have a major impact in a legal matter. As is usually the case with technology, it is always good to increase awareness of what is available and its use cases – it could be a game changer in a future matter. I believe we’ll begin to see an increase in adoption as legal teams struggle to handle the growing scale and complexity of their data landscapes.”
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.