Frances Anderson: “For vendors, new routes to market have opened”

Frances Anderson is CEO of legal technology events company Netlaw Media, which hosts the British Legal Technology Forum and the British Legal Technology Awards. We asked how end users of legal technology have coped with the explosion of change in the past year.

What is your high-level overview of 2023?
2023 was a high-octane year. Lots of highs and lows, a year of uncertainty but with excitement for the year ahead in new developments in the tech landscape. Firms are striving to meet demands which has put pressure on vendors to create new opportunities for firms to capture growth and compete whilst staying secure, since the risk landscape has got smarter thanks to gen AI and broadened.

What were the major milestones?
Looking at the legal market, the collapse of Axiom Ince impacted the legal profession and raised a question of integrity within the UK legal system, but also the ethical boundaries within the practice of law and the responsibility that the Solicitors Regulation Authority has within the UK. Second, the explosion of generative AI.

What were the biggest surprises?
The response to generative AI currently seems to be the tip of every conversation. But many are still getting their back office in order. The firing and rehiring of OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman also features highly.

How do you think end users and suppliers of legal technology have coped?
Some are reactive to the explosion, but many are responding strategically with new innovative opportunities to provide better legal services. For vendors, new routes to market have opened and we’ve seen a continued focus on contract management solutions. In terms of integrity, I feel many do not realise the implications that the collapse Axiom will have, since investigations are still ongoing.

What are your predictions for developments in 2024?
Going into 2024, due to the impact on the macro environment including political and economic impacts, clients will be seeking more value for their investment, including more acquisitions to strengthen their market position and client service delivery. However, I think there will be slower investment into new product portfolios / startups outside of current of generative AI / ML led services. I believe firms will look at developing / strengthening their own opportunities therefore broadening non-legal talent and making long terms savings, which will also increase focus on knowledge management. Other projects that were in motion such as dealing with the challenges of legacy systems may take a back seat.