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New Year, new tech? A look at the 2016 forecast

New Year, new tech? A look at the 2016 forecast

There is nothing quite like a new year to prompt attempts to peer into the crystal ball and see what the future holds. Both personally and professionally, we all want to know whether we will do better, bigger and brighter than the year before. For law firms, examining what the future holds inevitably brings legal tech into the picture. With IT developing at startling speeds, what seems a fresh and exciting new innovation in January could well be old hat by Halloween.

Over at Legal Technology they’ve given their large and impressive crystal ball a good polish, and predict that firms are likely to invest increasingly in legal tech and IT.

Firms are well aware of the importance of tech and IT to their business. A survey by the IT trade association CompTIA reports that a pretty solid 72% of law firms consider tech to be ‘highly important’ to their practice. What’s more, about the same number profess their intention to increase their IT budget over 2016.  Even more optimistic was the Law Firm Survey courtesy of PWC, which revealed a staggering 95% of firms looking to invest further in IT over 2016 to give their business a much-needed edge in a competitive marketplace.

It’s clear legal tech is set to be a priority for many firms over the coming years – but can we predict precisely where that investment is likely to lie? It seems so. LegalTechnology quizzed a range of industry experts, including cloud-based practice management system provider Clio. Their lawyer in residence, Joshua Lennon, foresees even further embracing of cloud computing: “Firms that have already invested in technology are reporting strong gains in profitability and efficiency, compared to those firms that have not yet recognised their need to update. This instant access to information is also making it easier for firms to get up-to-the minute insights into their firm’s finances, where they can best apply their efforts to reduce billing friction.”

Cyber crime is also likely to direct firms towards improved security measures – and it may be that the enemy is already in the gates. We are accustomed to thinking of fraudsters as being faceless cyber criminals who may live overseas – but Ed Stroz, executive chairman of Stroz Friedberg, warns that insiders may pose a threat in the coming year. “Until now, the business world’s attention has been focused squarely on external threat actors”, he says. “But in 2016, insider threats – current or ex-employees with knowledge of, and access to, the corporate network – will take centre stage, forcing human resources leaders into the growing cross-functional cyber security team.”

“Expect leading edge companies to start proactively addressing the insider threat risk by investing in technologies that identify, and in some cases prevent, insider threats before they cause material damage.”

Of course, any attempt to predict the future is notoriously unreliable: if we can’t say with any certainty whether it will rain tomorrow, it’s unlikely that we can build an accurate picture of what lies ahead for the legal sector. But one thing is certain: Legastat has always taken pride in being there for clients who want to future-proof their business, and make sure they deliver the truly modern service their clients expect. We can’t say for certain what 2016 holds in store, but look forward to working with our clients to build a bright, safe and productive year.