US company CT TyMetrix, part of the CT/Wolters Kluwer business – and a provider of web-based legal management solutions for corporate law departments and claims organizations – has identified what it sees as the key trends that will impact the legal industry in 2010. 

They say “The business side of the legal industry has reached a turning point. Technology has enabled corporate law departments to take more control over critical processes but it is up to them to optimally utilize these tools in a way that is best suited to meet their unique needs. Corporate law departments have the power to more effectively analyze data and control legal spend using technology-enabled tools such as predictive modeling, business intelligence (BI) and alternative fee arrangements (AFAs). The convergence of various factors, including market globalization, changing regulatory landscapes and availability of specialized technology solutions, will enable the widespread adoption of these tools in 2010.”
 
CT TyMetrix identify 10 specific trends…

• The Rise of the Corporate Law Department: The down economy has shifted the balance of power from large law firms to corporate legal departments. In 2010, corporate law departments will assert more control over billing. There will be a heightened demand for “tools of empowerment” that provide them with the knowledge, transparency and real-time technology to take control. (Autonomy made a similar prediction in its announcements yesterday.)

• The Re-Tooling of Big Law: In addition to some big-time law firms failing in 2010, there will be increasing pressure to allow the incorporation of legal services within corporate entities. This is already happening in the UK with the Legal Services Act and the trend is likely to become prominent in the US as well. This fundamental change in the structure of the legal service delivery industry will accelerate the adoption of new models that incorporate legal process outsourcing.

• Globalization of Corporate Law: Corporate law departments will start to leverage systems and knowledge across the world. In the past, the practice of law has been global, while the business side of it has not. This trend will be accelerated by the implementation of cloud computing within the legal community. The adoption of single standards for the transmission of electronic documents within EU countries will also drive this trend.

• Acceptance of BI and Predictive Modeling: 2010 will be the year in which corporate legal departments truly tap into the wealth of data available to them. In addition to billions of dollars of legal invoice data and hundreds of thousands of matter management records, corporate law departments can now access the record systems of their entire enterprise.

• Unified Platform Management: Law departments and law firms will begin buying into next-generation management platforms that enable all of their key solutions to collaborate on a single platform, which will be global, open and highly intuitive.

• Adoption of New AFAs:  Law departments will fully buy into AFAs as they come to realize there is no more effective way for them to predict and control outside counsel costs than devising and enforcing alternatives to the billable hour. The primary type of AFA will be flat fees and merit arrangements. (Richard Susskind writes about this in today's Times newspaper.)

• Convergence 2.0:  A more efficient method of convergence will come to prominence in 2010.  Companies will increase the amount of work assigned to law firms who provide the highest quality work with billing models that are most closely aligned with corporate law departments’ objectives. (This is echoes Autonomy's comments about 'chaining')