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2020 Legal Tech Trend Predictions

By ILTA Publication posted 01-08-2020 10:02


Here at ILTA, we’re excited to welcome a new year and a new decade. To ring in 2020, we reached out to ILTAns to share their legal tech trend predictions for this year and beyond. ILTAns took a look into the future and delivered. There might not be any flying cars in the near future, but our community is excited about the changes to come to everything from automation to client privacy, and staff changes to Artificial Intelligence. Read on and then leave a comment below with your own prediction.

Maureen Blando, President and COO, Mobile Helix

We see two growing trends which people may have been skeptical about as recently as three years ago. They are not revolutionary - but legal tech rarely is.

  1. The accelerating adoption of Office 365 in all sizes of law firms.
  2. Increasingly, law firms are transitioning from their current Mobile Device Management to InTune. InTune has improved a lot in the past three years. It provides effective management of the Office apps. When bundled with Office 365, the cost is attractive.

Notice anything? Microsoft is still strong in legal tech. ;)

Joshua Lenon, Lawyer in Residence, Clio

Law firms will accelerate the trend of using a small handful of legal technology vendors. These vendors, Thomson Reuters, iManage, Microsoft, etc., will be able to provide the due diligence required by clients and privacy regulators. In order for new tools to penetrate the AMLAW 200, they will need to partner with these pre-approved vendors or be relegated to one-off experiments as Big Law keeps moving ahead using the same tools as they have before.

Justin North, Founder and Director, Janders Dean

The inglorious deflation of the legal ops role across the globe as an economic downturn forces the General Counsel to ask the question: “Has this new function delivered on the original promise, and if I am being asked internally to cut back headcount in the legal function, should I start here?”

Richard Martinez, DevOps Applications Specialist, Best Best and Krieger

The trend of IT Operations being automated is one that has been steadily happening for the last decade and only will gain momentum as cloud technologies become less intimidating to implement and more cost-effective overall. If one works or leads an IT Operations group you have already noticed the decrease in need for an on-site expert thus the decrease in team size. As tools to remotely manage physical devices gain momentum so will the usage with the advantage of less IT costs overall. Subject Matter Experts should be up-skilling to take advantage of new positions that didn't exist even five years ago and ultimately aligning their career for longevity.

Georgina Rouse, Marketing Coordinator, Tiger Eye

In the wake of future uncertainties, firms are looking to future-proof their practice and make the most of what they already have - the knowledge, experience, and customer relationships their expert lawyers have already gleaned from their practice. We expect this trend to continue and to grow, as more firms look to buy technology to simplify the KM process and increase staff engagement in the practice.

Matthew Gillis, President, Managed Services, HBR Consulting

  • -Increased use of alternative legal service providers and managed services providers
  • -Increased adoption of hybrid cloud solutions
  • -More firms hiring CINO role
  • -Winnowing of AI vendors

David Horrigan, Discovery Counsel and Legal Education Director, Relativity

Although 2020 may become the Year of Data Privacy and Data Protection, it won't be the Year of Comprehensive U.S. Federal Privacy Regulation. Challenges, including disagreements over federal preemption and the presidential election year preventing most legislation from getting through Congress, will ensure that we don't get a comprehensive law in 2020.

TJ Johnson, Strategy Director, Olenick

Automation in all things!! Legal organizations are leveraging the now-mature automation tools to build document automation and replace all those repeatable and predictable non-legal tasks with automated processes. Some of what is listed as “AI” is really RPA or other automation tools, and those are gaining ground. Automated MS Windows monthly patch testing, as well as desktop and server performance testing, are now available, and 2020 will see them match or eclipse manual testing. Traditional lawyer tasks are being automated a little more slowly but in 2020 we will see many more examples of automation truly augmenting lawyer analysis and judgment.

Cloud-first is the watchword for smaller law firms in 2020. The tipping point has been reached where all the reasons why we didn’t move to hosted solutions in the past are now the reasons why we have to go that way – improved reliability, avoiding IT time on ongoing administration of the systems, cost of on-premise servers, improved security and compliance options, and flexible online archiving.

Sarvarth Misra, co-founder and CEO, ContractPodAi

Digital transformation trend continues upward

As we move into 2020, we’ll see a continued trend towards digital transformation across the legal industry and in the contract management sector.

AI and analytics will become more evenly distributed across the industry

The use of AI, data and analytics is already impacting the lives of many lawyers. The U.S. and Europe are driving the adoption of legal technology, but we expect to see more widespread adoption in 2020 as emerging solutions address pain points that are unique to different regions. Additionally, we see new use cases emerging for legal tech. This includes the use of legal analytics to measure KPIs and OKRs for the general counsel.

Traditional legal models will evolve

As we’ve seen labor-intensive industries transform in the past, the legal industry will use technology to build its own “assembly line” of sorts, driving the first industrial revolution of law. In house, the role of the general counsel will not be eliminated by new technology, rather its functions will be streamlined and elevated to focus on tasks that require both legal and human expertise, rather than the repetitive “assembly line” tasks often involved in managing contracts. 

Human and machine teaming will become a “thing”

As the industry becomes more comfortable with adopting new technologies, machines will increasingly be seen as an extension of the team, rather than the competition.

As legal technology continues to evolve, ILTA looks forward, with a hopeful eye, to what will come next for our industry! 

1 comment



01-23-2020 11:24

As a Corporate member, I believe that the future for law departments is in adopting practices to understand their own universes.  What this means – law departments will be investing in smarter technologies to focus on enterprise content management, contextual analytics through AI search engines, contract management for risk control, security and threat assessment, privacy searching and reporting, and knowledge management or information governance systems to know what, how and why information is within its own walls.  So far, pop-up upstart companies like NexLP and Ayfie are leading the charge with putting to use their adaptable models for searching and applying their tools to meet in-house demand. While big players and the Big 4 absorb or develop technologies in-house as client demands keep growing for internal service offerings.


Many large law departments within the finance, insurance, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries have begun to look towards niche development engineers to custom build their content management and AI engines in order to reveal their information assets and reduce costs on outside counsel business services and legal fees.  At the same time, law firms increasing their product profiles are expanding their ability to innovate for clients by being full service stations in these areas – in a sense, law firms will be turning into true business partners, where who needs the lawyers anymore.


Finally, the role of Legal Operations will continue to be relevant and even more important for a law department General Counsel as the push to develop in-house or program manage partner relationships in the experience of understanding the data universe as well as defining processes which are sustainable, adaptable, and scalable for the organization’s bottom line.