I’ve been saying it all along: some tech nerds out there have invented the hover board, they just haven’t released it to the public yet.

At the very least, 1989’s Back to the Future II was on the money in one respect. The whole wearable computer technology business was alive and well, evident from the glasses donned by the McFlys at the dinner table – McFly’s specs could easily have been an early prototype of Google Glass or Oculus Rift for all we know. But we’re still waiting on the hover board.

Gravity defying boards aside, what the tech industry has developed, though, is a whole lot of cool apps, technologies and gadgets aimed at improving the legal industry that sound positively futuristic. Predictive coding. Document automation. Data Mining. E-discovery artificial intelligence. Legal technology is finally having its place in the sun with innovative tools popping up everywhere.

So as the LegalTech® New York 2015 has just wrapped up for the year, what did industry leaders predict were the key tech space trends and what is in store for the legal industry this year?

Will the hoverboard make an appearance in 2015?

Will the hoverboard make an appearance in 2015?

The Data Gods Must Be Crazy

2015 will see a preoccupation with all things data continue: data security, data mining, data visualisation.  Sound a little high-tech? Whilst cyber attack has become a little more sophisticated since the days of Zero Cool, Crash Override and ‘hack the gibson’ (showing my age?), global cybersecurity concerns are here to stay. Some of the topics at the NY conference included:

  • Cybersecurity, Privacy, Data Protection: How data usage and data management impact security
  • The intersection of eDiscovery, information governance and data privacy
  • Security and data protection issues associated with social media
  • The impact of cross-border data protection and privacy policy on future technology

Recurring theme, anyone? Our preoccupation with data security and analysis is nothing new but it is on the rise this year. Predicting, interpreting and analysing big data is the recipe of the day for 2015 as lawyers seek to protect against data breaches whilst simultaneously harnessing useful data to stay competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.

According to Frank Strong of the Business and Law Blog, a hot new e-discovery trend, the use of artificial intelligence concept predictive coding, will become mainstream practice in 2015. Strong predicts that state-of-the-art techniques for categorising and mining data such as inductive logic programming will evolve to provide more insights into law firm and corporate internal processes.

Companies at the forefront of this trend include Equivio, that develops text analysis software and integrates predictive coding into its e-discovery tools, and Recommind, offering an e-discovery product called Axcelerate that provides support for predictive coding. Firms will continue to apply data mining techniques in 2015 to analyse business practices and maximize profitability.

Meet Me In The Cloud

We all know a bit about cloud storage by now but experts predict that cloud-based computing or storage will be the norm by end 2015. As we are obsessed with data and online security, lawyers and firms will embrace the cloud movement this year as the cloud providers are strengthening their security measures and providing specialized protections for sensitive information like encrypting individual files. Cloud systems are now more affordable and accessible with a range of options on the market.

Data in the cloud.  Not your head.

Data in the cloud. Not your head.

High-Tech Legal Research

The job of a lawyer is stressful and time-consuming at the best of times – with document review and assembly, client conferences, billing, trotting off to court, legal research, drafting advices, solicitors and attorneys are run off their feet – ie, the perfect customer for time-saving tools. Legal research is one area where vast improvements have been made in order to assist legal professionals: popular tools like CaseText, Judicata and RavelLaw are helping lawyers to identify relevant cases and streamline research processes.

Document Automation, Review and Assembly

To date, the cost of human labour in poring through boxes of pre-litigation discovery documents and organising client files, has been enormous. We’ve been hand picking the information rather than machine harvesting it quickly and efficiently. In 2015, to streamline document review and assembly processes, we’ll see more machine learning, due diligence and document review and assembly tools like Diligence Engine, Ebrevia and AltLegal.

Electronic Marketplace

The legal e-marketplace has arrived and, in the law world, the boom has only just begun. Even if lawyers have been notoriously slow in their uptake of online services, the pace is picking up. Clients want affordable, transparent, efficient and accessible legal advice and the electronic marketplace will be the place to find it. Legal tech platforms will connect clients and lawyers in new, exciting ways. Watch this space.

So stay on top of these industry trends in 2015 for a quick dose of inspiration, a sharp bolt of efficiency, a strong boost in productivity, and to maintain that competitive edge. Then all that’s left is the hover board.

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