Part 4: Predictions About Legal Technology

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Part three of this series addressed how and why lawyers choose technology products, and what companies can do to build products that lawyers want to use. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

The series concludes with my thoughts on how legal technology will be delivered to achieve the predictions in my previous posts, as well as closing comments about how we get to this future of legal technology.

Cloud and SaaS will replace on-premises software

The requirements I’ve discussed so far have implications for how legal technology will be delivered: as SaaS and powered by the cloud, not as on-premises software. SaaS, or software as a service, means that the software company runs the software and users log in to it over the Internet. This is in contrast to on-premises software, in which the software company makes the software, but it is then installed and run by the end user or by a third-party services company. The main benefit of SaaS is that the software company can release updates to the software continuously, in practice, as often as weekly, so that end users always have the latest bug fixes and features. It also means that customers, here, law firms and corporate legal departments, don’t have to manage infrastructure, buying, maintaining, and upgrading hardware and deciding what level of infrastructure they need to maintain in advance of actually using the software.

Cloud means the software runs on scalable infrastructure like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. Its simplest benefit is, again, that it allows both the customer and the software company to abstract from mechanical issues of buying and maintaining servers and doing server capacity planning. But its real benefit is that it allows user-facing technology to leverage all kinds of tools that the cloud companies build to take advantage of what is possible in the cloud.

For example, in the cloud, compute can be scaled using software, so that the software itself can see load increasing and cause hundreds or thousands of other servers to become immediately available to handle the load. Or, to take another example, cloud object storage can be used to store data at one tenth the price of legacy NAS storage. Leveraging these tools is what it means to be built natively in the cloud; it is the difference between using the tools available only in the cloud and simply airlifting a product built to be on-premises software and running that same software in the cloud.

How we get there: partnerships between lawyers, LT professionals, and legal technology companies to produce differentiated legal services that improve legal outcomes.

Legal technology is exciting. It can improve the experience of practicing law for great lawyers. And it can improve legal outcomes for clients. Delivering on this promise requires partnerships between lawyers, LT professionals, and legal technology companies to create solutions that enable law firms and corporate legal departments to deliver differentiated, productized legal services. Together, these teams represent a new function in the legal space, one that combines substantive legal expertise with process and technology to create scalable, repeatable, best quality legal services. 

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