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What does the future hold for IT and the law? What will be the challenges, priorities and exciting technological developments of 2016? As the working year approaches its end, we’ll look at what Chambers can expect from technology in the coming year.

In a recent article by Legal Week, IT directors from five of the UKs top law firms outlined their predictions for 2016. They listed artificial intelligence, security and mobility as some of the greatest challenges ahead, and called for greater agility and flexibility from law firms if they are to adapt to them.

We’ve broken down their predictions into our easy guide to legal IT in 2016:

Challenges

 “The legal world is a little bit behind.”

David Aird, IT Director, DAC Beachcroft

What are the main challenges ahead for legal IT? Well, according to David Aird, IT Director at international law firm DAC Beachcroft, the main challenge is that the legal world is behind other industries in adapting to new technologies. He says that law firms are resistant to change, and need to become more agile.

“The biggest challenge is the legal sector and lawyers’ ability to change, full stop.”

David Aird, IT Director, DAC Beachcroft

The main challenge, then, is to catch up.

Big data and AI systems, for example, will become means of mining data for useful intelligence, and Head of IT at Sackers, Danny O’Connor is convinced that the biggest challenges facing lawyers is going to be the terrabytes of data being created and stored in this way. Julie Berry, director of infrastructure & IT at RPC agrees: 

How do we look at this, how do we analyse it, how do we transfer it and how do we move it about?”

Meanwhile, security is an on-going challenge for law firms. Brian Smith, Head of IT for the Europe and Middle East region of King & Wood Mallesons, says that making sure security policies are read, understood and tested is vital to effectively protect data and information.

Priorities

Each IT Director canvassed has different priorities, but they all agree on the three main priorities for legal IT in 2016:

  1. Mobility – Legal IT needs more mobility, and the framework to support its application. In order to facilitate this agile working, law firms need to take full advantage of new technologies, or as Colin Smith, IT Director at Pincent Masons, says:

“to harness technology, human capital and consumer trends for better business outcomes. We recognise the move to a digital business model is inevitable, the way people want to work and how they collaborate with their colleagues and clients is changing.”

  1. Security – Security is a key focus for all law firms going into the future. This is going to require significant and continued investment and budgeting in 2016. Danny O’Connor made a good point in emphasising that while security technology is necessary, it won’t protect against every breach attempt. Users must be trained in best practice.
  1. Efficiency – law firms will be looking to technology to streamline the way they work in 2016. King and Wood Mallesons, for example, will be integrating telephone systems to bring employees around the world together, while Sackers are redesigning their document management project to allow employees to work more efficiently. Pinsent Masons, meanwhile, will be looking to an ‘infrastructure as a service’ model, the increased use of external data centres and co-location resources, to streamline their operations.

 

Developments

 

The shift to digital business is an exciting time, but technological developments are yet forcing lawyers to rethink the way they deliver their services. They must now be agile and flexible to meet new challenges whilst still maintaining resilience, security and reliability. IT directors are particularly excited by developments like the new Microsoft Surface and Office 365, while many see the cloud as the future. When asked by Legal Week about the technological innovation he was most excited about, Danny O’Connor replied “The cloud, and the fact it’s becoming an acceptable technology in legal.”

Does your chambers need a helping hand catching up with the future of legal IT? We can help you make the most of exisiting legal IT and help implement and manage new technologies that will help you to be more agile, mobile and progressive in your work. Get in touch today.

If you want to read more of what the IT directors had to say, click here for the full Legal Week article.