Hot legal tech trends for 2021

Hot Legal Technology Trends For 2021 – Legal Futures

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I manageiManage speakers share their top trends for 2021 in the areas of security, cloud, AI, remote working and more:

Cybersecurity and governance

  • Fortune 490, the most vulnerable – Ransomware attacks are accelerating because a well-organized criminal element has determined that piles of money should be made. Who is affected? It won’t be the Amazons and Googles of the world or the Fortune 10 who have tons of resources to secure their IT infrastructures. Most vulnerable are The Fortune 490 and small to medium-sized businesses – including most law firms. The acceleration curve will only bend when these SMEs have achieved the same level of security as big players – and only when they migrate their critical systems and data to the cloud. – – Bilal Mujahid, CISO, iManage
  • Working remotely doesn’t mean you can save files on your laptop – Until the pandemic is fully under control, we can expect the trend to work from home to continue until 2021. However, remote workers should ensure that they are not neglecting security and governance measures, such as storing confidential files on their hard drives, rather than storing them in a properly secured and controlled document management system. In the coming year, companies will place a premium on the ability to proactively identify employees who are not actively using the document management system (DMS) and save their content in unsecured repositories in order to better identify and manage risks in the company. – – Ian Raine, vice president of product management at iManage
  • Need for protection to “travel” with files – Document Management Systems (DMS) are a fantastic way for businesses to store sensitive and confidential documents, emails, and other files to make sure they are properly secured and managed. But what happens when this file leaves the DMS? In the case of particularly sensitive content, there is increasing interest in the protection being “transferred” with this file so that it is properly secured and managed while it is outside the DMS in the wild. Increasingly, customers will be looking for ways to make that extra layer of security an easy and seamless move. – – Ian Raine, vice president of product management at iManage

Technologies, AI and Knowledge Management (KM)

  • Year of creativity and collaboration with ecosystems – With the advancing introduction and application of AI and especially cloud-based AI services, 2021 will be a year of enormous creativity and innovation. Companies will actively transform all everyday and traditional processes that stood in the way of productive remote working in 2020 to take advantage of the brisk legal activity as markets correct and steer Brexit. Vendors will also gather together to expand the AI ​​ecosystem as they work together to minimize the challenges of AI for end users while solving the problems that arise between the edges of their respective products. Look out for interesting partnerships and acquisitions when the going gets tough. – – Nick Thomson, GM, iManage RAVN
  • KM becomes “sexy” – Within an organization, the functions for innovation and knowledge management (KM) have traditionally been separate functions – but the walls are falling. It is increasingly recognized that innovation does not take place in isolation, but requires a deep understanding of internal processes. KM is of course ideally positioned to convey this profound understanding. In this way, 2021 could be the year when KM, which hasn’t been rated as exciting or busy in the past as ‘Innovation’, could shake off its clumsy reputation and be seen in a more glamorous light. – – Alex Smith, director of global product management at iManage RAVN
  • A fusion of regional methods – Historically, there have been different approaches to KM depending on which part of the world you came from. The US approach to KM has long been based on technology, search, and data. In the UK and other parts of the world, the focus has been on content creation and expertise. Now, around the world, these approaches are beginning to come together and merge the two. The US is increasingly adopting the know-how and process-based approach while the UK, Europe and Australia are increasingly using the analytics that the US has always used as the backbone of their approach. – – Alex Smith, director of global product management at iManage RAVN


  • Zero Touch will arrive in 2021 – Not all clouds are created equal: A cloud based on the Zero Trust security framework is essential for the highest level of protection for critical assets. However, Zero Trust only works when the focus is on zero touch. This means that no one – not even a small number of trusted resources, as most cloud providers allow – is granted access to customer data. New forms of automation will help remove the “human” from the equation so that this sensitive customer data is inaccessible, creating a “hands-free environment”. Increasingly savvy companies will not accept a “zero trust” requirement from cloud providers in 2021 unless they can verify that they have made “zero touch” a central pillar of their approach to securing cloud data. – – Dan Dosen, General Manager, Cloud Services, iManage
  • Security war will only be “winable” in the cloud – It is increasingly recognized that the “security war” can only be won in the cloud. Every technology companies add to their local network increases their security and paints a bigger target on their backs. So why wage war on this battlefield? The more companies can remove systems and data from their local environment and move it to a secure cloud provider, the better off they will be. Expect more and more services to move to the cloud: It’s not just about payroll, sales, and document management. Security technologies, from identity management to threat monitoring, will continue to make the leap in the coming year. – – Bilal Mujahid, CISO, iManage

Change the role of technology providers

  • Beyond agility – Flexibility and speed of delivery are critical, but technology provider CIOs need to work more closely with customer CIOs or the C-Team to ensure buy-in and partnership, to maintain the CIO’s perception of value, and to provide ongoing support. The customer’s CIO needs to see the value of the product, and the product’s CIO can provide insight into what is happening and the value delivered. Expect success in 2021 to be increasingly measured not just by the product that does what it says it is, but also by the relationships among the CIOs and other senior executives. – – Van Richardson, CIO, iManage
  • The old “voice of the customer” model is dead – Those quarterly meetings where the vendor meets with the company to do a PPT presentation will no longer work. Instead, the conversation needs to be turned to the value that was brought – and that value should not be presented at a quarterly board review: it should be a common value that companies can say, “Yes, we did these things together . ”- – Van Richardson, CIO, iManage

Legal transaction

  • ALSPs will continue to grow – Spending on ALSP services will increase in the next few years as more and more law firms either use third party ALSPs or invest in building their own business units, similar to ALSPs. Why? As law firms evaluate their processes – and clients evaluate law firm processes – both parties will see that the firm’s added value lies in very specific types of tasks within the larger, overall legal pile. As businesses focus on solving business challenges, customers will try more than ever to balance the nature of the task with the appropriate expertise and cost involved. – – Stephanie Vaughan, Director of Global Legal Practice, iManage RAVN
  • Legal education will incorporate technology to create “work-ready” graduates – Improving legal technical skills is one way that today’s lawyers can stay competitive and become more successful in an increasingly digital world. Learning to use data and technology can turn a good lawyer into a great one, and universities and legal programs prevail. We will continue to see growth in legal course providers and legal departments offering initiatives to build the innovation skills that future lawyers should have – such as AI, intelligent search, and data analysis – in order to build a system of “work-ready” graduates. – – Alex Smith, Global Product Management Lead for iManage RAVN (Alex, as a co-author, helped modernize legal education)

Associate News is provided by Legal Futures Associates.

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