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Dennis Kennedy Looks Into the Future of Legal Technology

At the beginning of each year, I eagerly anticipate legal technology guru Dennis Kennedy's legal technology trends, but this year, he's really outdone himself. Kennedy has so many thoughts about seven technology trends for 2007, that he's thus far devoted two posts to the topic, here and here, with still more to come. In any event, here's what Kennedy has to say about Trends 1-4.

For Trend 1, Kennedy sees a reaction to Microsoft; not necessarily a backlash but definitely at least a re-evaluation of implementation of Microsoft products. In that regard, he notes these subtrends, where firms will focus on:   

(a) deciding whether and when to upgrade to new Microsoft versions, (b) investigating whether to move away from Microsoft environments, and (c) the growing role of free, Open Source and Web 2.0 services.

In particular, Kennedy anticipates that alternatives to Microsoft like Linux and Macs will actually start to penetrate the legal profession in 2007, albeit slow. Says Kennedy:

Frankly, the legal practice is a Microsoft world, and I don't expect to see that change dramatically in 2007, but given the complexity and potential costs of moving to new Microsoft versions, we will see greater attention on non-windows options. By the end of 2007, I would expect to see a noticeable increase in the number of lawyers using Mac notebooks.

And open source applications and Web 2.0 will also provide viable options to Microsoft and other more costly applications -- even Adobe Acrobat, the gold standard for lawyers for electronic documents. 

Trend 2 concerns electronic discovery, and here, Kennedy thinks that we've underestimated the long term impacts. He writes:

However, let me be clear that, as has been said before about the Internet, we overestimate the short-term impact of electronic discovery, but we greatly underestimate the long-term impact of electronic discovery. I’ve read recently complaints of attendees at the LegalTech New York show that 90% of the vendors called themselves e-discovery vendors, with the implication that EDD was being over-sold and over-hyped. There is a clear resistance from lawyers to electronic discovery and sometimes this attitude is manifested by referring to EDD as a fad or hype.

While, as I’ve said many times before, the concepts in electronic discovery are straight-forward and EDD should be seen as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the details, the tools, the practical questions, and the application of law and rules to specific facts can be confusing, complicated and challenging. However, we are not going back to a world of paper-based discovery. The e-discovery ship has set sail, and the wishful thinking of resistant lawyers will not turn it back around.

Other issues for firms to consider with electronic discovery are: (a) basic EDD tools for small cases, (b) the growing role of litigation support managers, and (c) the availability of "big iron" tools for e-discovery.

In Trend 3, Kennedy expects that firms will start to bring technology decisions to the executive committees or to managing partners for decision. As for subtrends, which will pick up momentum on technology decision-making, these include:

(a) audits and efforts to find cost savings, (b) applying traditional business principles, and (c) refocusing on outsourcing.

Finally, Trend 4 describes Kennedy's predictions about security and disaster recovery, which Kennedy says that firms will finally start taking seriously:

In 2007, there is a growing realization that security and disaster recovery must be top priorities that require continuing attention, and that the two areas are inextricably related. While we cannot predict the future with certainly, there's little doubt that we will see some unexpected security and other disasters that will cause serious problems and be largely unexpected.

You need to read Kennedy's posts in their entirety, because they provide a great roadmap for what smart firms should be looking at with respect to technology in 2007.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 9, 2007 at 06:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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