by Roy Russell, CEO of Ascertus Limited, highlights his view on the technology trends in the legal sector in 2017:
• Threat management will play a key role in security efforts – With the continued onslaught of cyber-crime in all its various guises – phishing, ransomware, whaling, smishing and so on – security will be high up on the agenda in the legal sector. In addition to traditional reactive security measures, law firms will look to actively make pre-emptive security a priority. To support this requirement, legal technology vendors will embed threat monitoring and management into the core business applications that firms use. Linking big data with behavioural intelligence based on system history, such tools will create, study and monitor the finger print of every single user and alert the organisation to unusual actions and activities. These threat management solutions will very accurately highlight the usage patterns of employees based on their role in the organisation. Consequently, any peculiar or untoward activity will be relatively easy to spot to potentially identify attacks in process and even improve the ability to detect future breaches.
• Records management systems will grow in importance and functionality – Records management is becoming essential for regulatory compliance and data security, driven to the forefront of firms’ agendas by the impending arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The ability to automatically apply company retention policies to physical files, electronic documents and email correspondence based on good governance practices in both controlled and uncontrolled environments, from a range of device types, as well as inside and outside the corporate firewall, will become essential.
Historically, records management has been viewed as a burdensome elective process, relying upon users to manually apply the correct retention policies to their individual records. This has rarely been effective. To support the more widespread use of records management in view of the business imperatives, software vendors will make their systems more affordable and processes more user friendly and intuitive. For example, in recent times we have seen the rise of separate record management systems that can auto-categorise and automatically apply retention policies, thus eliminating manual effort. Unfortunately, to date these types of solutions have been very expensive. The new breed of records management systems will provide such functionality as standard. They will also provide full management of many types of data repositories, both physical paper and electronic based, including tight integration with document management systems, network file shares, SharePoint repositories, and other data stores.
• Artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives will continue, but in the vein of commoditisation – AI is garnering interest in the legal sector, but a closer inspection of the tools and apps being made available reveal that they are presently more similar to commoditised legal services in the form of packaged, low cost modules for areas such as wills, contracts, pre-nuptials and non-disclosure agreements for the benefit of consumers. Undoubtedly, AI offers tremendous potential and some large law firms have launched initiatives to leverage the technology. However, there’s a significant amount of work to be done in defining the ethical and legal boundaries for AI, before the technology can truly be utilised for delivering legal services to clients with minimal human involvement. Until then, in 2017 and perhaps for a few more years yet, we will continue to see incremental innovative efforts to leverage the technology, but in the vein of commoditisation – similar to what we have seen in the last 12 months.