LegalWeek – January 28th-31st 2019 (New York)
17 December 2018
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15 January 2019

Efficiency, Security, Cloud & Collaboration

As we head into the new year, we take a look back at some of the key trends of 2018 that are continuing to be prevalent in 2019 and what the ILTA 2018 Technology Survey Report had to say about these.

For those that don’t know the ILTA survey, released at the end of 2018, was completed by 481 firms representing more than 92,000 attorneys and 188,000 users. Each year the survey data provides a deep insight into the key technology decisions being made in law firms.

Technology today is moving at such a rapid pace; most firms can’t keep up. The ILTA report highlights this also, stating technology adoption at law firms and legal departments is moving so fast that many lawyers and practices are being left behind, even if they excel at being a lawyer.

Change is still the biggest issue within law firms and its easy to see why if technology is moving so fast. User acceptance of new versions or new solutions and managing the expectations of change is a constant annoyance. Couple that with security and email management and you have the top technology issues facing law firms according to ILTA’s report. If we look back at the last few years of the report, security is certainly moved up the issues list, but change has always been there.

KEY TRENDS

The key areas and trends for the survey focused on security, mobility, cloud computing, analytics/BI, collaboration and efficiency to name a few. Also, where would a legal IT report be without the mention of AI. A good point made in this summary is that AI is changing, in fact reinventing, almost every job, not replacing. It seems AI is still being pursued mainly by the big end of town, however. Here are the key trends as we see them.

  • Efficiency

Efficiency comes in many flavours, but there are some good points raised in the report on how law firms are trying to become more efficient or agile. Managing mailbox size is still the leading challenge in the email world with 38% citing it as a concern. Also print management as a solution for simplifying the upkeep of printers is up 17%. Scanning workflow software to automate or facilitate document routing is on the steady climb as is document automation and assembly. Digital signing is also on the rise, but still 62% of firms don’t use a tool as yet, with digital singing being more popular the bigger the firm.

  • Security

Security management has definitely increased as a priority in firms. The report highlights many areas where firms are doing more now than ever to secure their firm, such as multi-factor authentication, social engineering tests and locking down desktops. Plus, many firms are using external parties more than ever in terms of security audits, testing and training as well as outsourcing technology rather than to continue to develop in house applications. Using encryption technologies is definitely on the rise, with hard drive, email and removeable media encryption being the top three.

  • Cloud

I think we can all agree cloud computing adoption across the globe is on the increase and this survey backs this up, however still the biggest barrier continues to be cost, whilst other issues cited are reliability, performance and client restrictions. Cloud DMS is also on the rise as expected, however more in the larger firms currently.

  • Collaboration

Internal collaboration tools for attorneys is on the rise with tools like Skype, Jabber, Teams, however using these tools to collaborate externally is on the decrease. The use of Extranets is on the rise with in-house developed systems on the decline. And large file transfer and file sharing in general looks on the increase.

One thing is clear and that is using surveys like this allow firms to really analyse where legal technology is going and how they can ride that wave. Change is always going to be an issue, so embrace it and move with the times rather than burying your head in the sand.