# Quantum computing for lawyers

In this article we have a look at the essentials of quantum computing for lawyers. We explain what quantum computing is, how it is different from traditional computing, what the benefits and its uses are, and how it is relevant for lawyers.

## What is quantum computing?

To explain what quantum computing is, it is probably easier to first explain what a quantum computer is. A quantum computer is a highly advanced computer that makes use of the quantum states of subatomic particles to store information (Bing). Paraphrasing the definition on the Wikipedia, we can define quantum computing as a type of computation that harnesses the collective properties of quantum states of subatomic particles, such as superposition, interference, and entanglement, to perform calculations.

How are quantum computers different from traditional computers? Traditional computers work with bits, which represent a value of either one or zero. Quantum computers, on the other hand, work with qubits, which are subatomic particles that store data, and which have multiple properties. In classical geometry, a dot has no dimensions. Bits are like zero-dimensional dots, they either are there (true, 1) or they are not (false, 0). Compare that to electrons around nucleus. Just to locate them you need three dimensions. So, the first major difference between classical and quantum computing lies in having three dimensions for the underlying data bits vs having just one on or off state for classical computers. This means that a qubit can store considerably more information than a bit can.

A second difference has to do with the interaction between bits. Bits have a logical value of false or true, which means their interactions are dominated by traditional Boolean logical operators: NOT, AND, and OR. Interactions between electrons are far more complex. Here you also have to take phenomena into consideration like superposition, entanglement, and interference. This implies not only that they can integrate far more information but also are capable of far more complex calculations.

The third and final major difference between classical and quantum computing has to do with their efficiency. In essence, every action a traditional computer takes consists of very fast sequences of switching an electric current on and off. This is a one-directional process that is not reversible, and it produces heat. Quantum operators on the other hand are bi-directional, which means actions can be undone, and the original state of the electron can be reinstated This implies they have more processing information per operation, which in turn translates into being able to operate faster, and without necessarily producing the heat that traditional computers generate.

What this all means is that quantum computers will be millions of times more powerful than today’s most powerful computers.

## What are the benefits of quantum computing?

Needless to say, quantum computers offer many benefits. We already highlighted a first benefit, i.e., that they can process far more information simultaneously, and incredibly faster than traditional computers. As an example, in late 2019, Google’s Sycamore quantum computer managed to calculate something in 200 seconds that would take millennia on a traditional device. In other words, quantum computing can solve problems that would be virtually impossible on a traditional system.

A second series of benefits has to do with all the things quantum computers can be used for. Now, most usage scenarios that are typically predicted are not in the legal field. They include things like discovering new drugs, creating better batteries, predicting the weather, picking stocks, processing language, helping to solve the travelling salesman problem. (If a company has multiple salespeople, how can they best be deployed geographically and timewise?) Another usage benefit of quantum computers is the enhanced security they can offer. The other side of the coin of this that those who work on traditional devices will have a far weaker security that can easily be broken by quantum computers. This has serious implications for presently secure technologies like Blockchain, which no longer would be secure. Quantum computers will also revolutionize cloud computing, allowing for faster, virtually instantaneous communications.

A last series of benefits has to do with artificial intelligence, where major breakthroughs are expected. One of the substantial problems AI faces is that co-occurrence does not necessarily imply correlation, and that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. Present-day machine learning is getting better at discovering correlations. With quantum computing, AI is expected to be far better at discovering causality, rather than correlation. A second expectation is that Trusted AI will take centre stage. With quantum computers, AI is expected to learn to discover and neutralise its biases, and to explain why it came to certain conclusions.

## What is the relevance of quantum computers for lawyers?

Because the computing capacity of quantum computers is so enormously greater than that of traditional computers, they carry with them some troubling potential. The first area where this manifests, is in cybersecurity. Many of the technologies that are now considered secure when used with traditional computers will no longer be secure at all. An example that was already mentioned is Blockchain, where quantum computers will be able to easily break the encryption used in Blockchain. Most of the current cybersecurity defences will be useless against quantum computers. This creates a severe imbalance between those who have access to quantum computers and those who have not.

A second area where quantum computers pose a threat is the protection of privacy and personal data. Big tech companies like Google and Facebook already have a tremendous amount of information on people. Imagine what information they could gather if they were using quantum computers. Or think of government agencies with quantum computers that could easily access any traditional device whenever they want to. One author rightfully points out that this would effectively jeopardize all legitimate whistleblowers as their anonymity could no longer be guaranteed.

There are of course many areas where quantum computers can be beneficial. A first such area where they will be a useful tool is language processing. Quantum computers will be far better at text analysis. This includes legal texts, where they are expected to be able to better understand context. They will also improve the quality of translations.

Quantum computers will also dramatically change the way lawyers work, as they will revolutionize the optimization of the processes and workflows involved. This will not only apply to the way law firms are run, but also to the legal services lawyers offer. Quantum computers will be able to streamline legal research as well as paperwork more effectively.

A related area where quantum computers are expected to modify how legal services are offered is through automated legal advice and automated legal service delivery. Quantum computers will effectively become smarter than even the smartest lawyers. This will give rise to tremendous progress in the field of computational law, which, where possible, automates legal reasoning. (For more information on how this is already being done, read our article on productizing legal services).

Quantum computers will also allow machine learning to become far more effective. This will result in predictive analytics that will project the chances of success for different strategies in a given situation. One author called this prescient investigation.

A final area where quantum computers will be beneficial to lawyers is collaboration, where data can be shared in a more effective way. This will also facilitate cooperation over great distances.

## Conclusion

So, should your law firm start looking into quantum computers already? Several IT experts advise to start doing so now, but companies like Deloitte and Gardner are more cautious. They recognize the great potential but point out that not enough of that potential is realized. Their advice is to remain informed about progress that is being made, but that it is too early to make any investments yet.

Shannon Flynn, in Legal Technology Today, predicts that when quantum computers break through, there will be a “short-term pain for lawyers and aspiring lawyers, but the benefits for the average citizen will be clear. Among the benefits will be better representation, lower cost, and greater efficiency. For society, the change will be a net positive.”

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# Legal Technology Trends of 2020

In November 2020, the American Bar Association published its annual Legal Technology Survey Report, which gives an overview of trends in legal technology. Now, for 2020, it is important to keep in mind that while the report was published in November, most of the actual survey was conducted in early 2020, i.e., before the pandemic started. We know from other reports that have been published that the pandemic had a dramatic effect on the usage of legal technology. These effects are not yet reflected in the 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report. Below, we discuss some of the highlights of the report. A more in-depth thematic discussion of the report can be found on the Law Technology Today website. (URLs included below).

Demographics: In 2020, the responding attorneys consisted of 26% solo practitioners, 30% lawyers at firms of 2-9 attorneys, 17% at firms of 10-49 attorneys, 5% at firms of 50-99 attorneys, 10% at firms of 100-499 attorneys, and 12% at firms of 500+. The average age of the respondents was 58. Approximately 69% of them were male, while 31% were female, and on average they had been admitted to the bar for 30 years. Based on the income generated, the largest practice areas were litigation (27%), followed by estate planning (20%), and real estate transactions (16%).

Cybersecurity: The 2019 report warned that law firms score badly when it comes to cybersecurity. Unfortunately, while there are minor improvements in 2020, not that much has changed. And that is problematic as during the pandemic that number of cyberattacks, especially on lawyers who work from home, will have increased. The number of firms that have experienced a security breach increased from 26 to 29%, and the number of firms having experienced a virus, spyware or malware infection rose to 36%. Also notable is that the larger the law firm is, the larger the number of lawyers is who do not know whether they had security incidents.

Still less than half of the lawyers surveyed were using security tools: “43% of respondents use file encryption, 39% use email encryption, 26% use whole/full disk encryption. Other security tools used by less than 50% of respondents are two-factor authentication (39%), intrusion prevention (29%), intrusion detection (29%), remote device management and wiping (28%), device recovery (27%), web filtering (26%), employee monitoring (23%), and biometric login (12%).”

It also seems that, rather than addressing the actual problems, lawyers prefer to take cyber liability insurance policies. “36% percent of respondents, compared to 33% in 2019, 34% percent in 2018, and 26% in 2017.” And there also is improvement when it comes to incident response plans: in 2020, 34% of respondents indicated their firms maintained such a plan, up from 31% in 2019 and 25% in 2018.

Cloud computing: the area of the report that is most outdated probably is the one on cloud computing. The pandemic resulted in a massive increase in the usage of cloud solutions, but that is not yet reflected in the report. The report found the legal profession still dramatically lagging behind in cloud usage, at 59%, compared to 58% in 2019. Notable and surprising is that lawyers continue to use popular business cloud services like Dropbox (67%), Microsoft 365 (49%), iCloud (19%), Microsoft Teams (18%), Box (13%), and Evernote (12%) at higher rates than dedicated legal cloud services.

As was the case in 2019, the report is alarmed by the lack of security measures law firms have in place when using cloud services. “The 2020 (pre-COVID-19) survey results showed further slippage in the already lax compliance of lawyers with even the most basic cybersecurity practices. Although lawyers say that confidentiality, security, data control and ownership, ethics, vendor reputation and longevity, and other concerns weigh heavily on their minds, the employment of precautionary security measures is quite low. No more than 31% (down from 35%) of respondents were taking any one of the specific standard cautionary cybersecurity measures listed in the 2020 Survey question on this topic. Eleven percent of respondents (up from 7% in 2019) reported taking none of the security precautions of the types listed. Only 45% of respondents report that the adoption of cloud computing resulted in changes to internal technology or security policies. These are disturbing numbers.” (Law Technology Today).

Practice Management: surprisingly, the report found that overall, the usage and availability of practice management software has declined. The only exception is for small law firms with 2 to 9 lawyers. Conflict management tools do a bit better than practice management software, but their usage and availability has stalled as well. Again, the small firms with 2 to 9 lawyers are the exceptions.

With a worldwide increase in privacy protection legislation came an increase in the usage and availability of metadata removal tools. And even though the survey was largely conducted before the pandemic hit, the report sees an increase in remote access tools. Related to this, is that the primary workstation for most lawyers no longer is a desktop computer, but a laptop computer.

Only 45% of respondents said they were using legal analytics tools, down from 49% in 2019.

Technology Training: Lawyers understand that technology training is important: 82% of respondents agreed that it was important to receive training on the technologies their law firm is using. Yet, in spite of that, fewer lawyers – only 59% – had access to technology training at their firm than in 2019. The decrease in availability was largely in the segments of solo lawyers (27%, down from 28%) and medium sized firms from 10-49 lawyers (74%, down from 82%). Small firms of 2-9 lawyers, as well as large firms (100-499 lawyers), on the other hand did see small increases, with respectively 50% instead of 49.3%, and 96% instead of 95%.

The report also noted that 91% of solo respondents indicated that they were “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” using their law firms available technology. It explicitly warns that these lawyers may be overestimating their abilities with regard to the technologies they’re using and underestimating their need for training. It explicitly refers to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Websites and Marketing: Overall, most law firms (54%) still do not have a marketing budget. More specifically, for most solo and small firms having a marketing budget seems to be the exception rather than the rule: only 32% of small firms (2-9 lawyers), and 14 % of solo practitioners have one. For those that have a marketing budget, 26% responded it had increased in 2020; for 11% it had decreased; for 27% it remained the same, and 36% of respondents did not know. The marketing budget is mainly spent on sponsorship (48%), followed by LinkedIn (42%), email (41%), Facebook (33%), and print (21%).

When it comes to websites and blogs, 87% of law firms responded that they had a website. Among solos, the percentage is however far lower, at only 59%. Lawyers still seem to view the primary role of their website as an online brochure, where the website has information about the partners (98%) and associates (73%). Approximately half of the websites also focus on the cases the firm handles. And 56% of lawyers now also use their website for content marketing, where they publish their own legal articles, but only 27% uses a blog for it. Among solos, the percentage that publishes its own content drops to only 17%. Most of the websites these days are mobile friendly, with only 6% saying their websites are not.

When it comes to individual promotion, 77% of lawyers say they promote themselves on social media. Only 9% however uses other channels as well.

The 2020 Survey Report reveals there still is a big gap between solos and small firms on the one hand, and the larger firms on the other, when it comes to their marketing efforts.

Budgeting & Planning: by now, most lawyers understand that a technology budget is essential. Overall, 62% have a technology budget (up from 60% in 2019), but an alarming 59% of solos and 41% of small firms (2-9) still do not. A whopping 71% of solo firms also doesn’t have a training budget. When it comes to the size of the budget, it remained the same or slightly increased. Interestingly, it remained the same in mainly solo law firms, while it slightly increased in the larger ones. The report advises to spend time planning a budget, which includes technology training, and to measure usage and track what is working. This will allow them to prioritize accordingly and spend more wisely.

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When we think about legal technology, we usually think of technology that provides solutions for the legal professions and the judiciary. But what about the legal consumers? How can they benefit from legal technology? One of the areas where legal technology can play another important part is Access to Justice (often shortened to A2J). In this article, we will have a look at what Access to Justice is, what challenges it faces, and then explore the solutions that legal technology can offer.

So, what is Access to Justice? There is not one singular definition, and the concept itself has changed over time. The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC) distinguishes four different aspects, which each come with their own range of challenges:

1. The Right to Appear in Court. The formal right of an individual to litigate or defend is a Human Right. This does not only apply to conflicts between individuals and/or organizations, but also to governments, or any body that can impose a sanction.
2. Advocacy for Those Who Cannot Afford It. The focus here is on legal aid, especially for people who do not have the means available to get Justice. It is one thing to have the right to appear in Court, but it is another thing altogether to be able to afford it. A study published last year (2019) showed e.g. that in the US a staggering 86% of the civil legal problems that were reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help at all.
3. Reforming the Justice Systems. Money is not the only thing that can stand in the way of getting justice. One may be faced with all kinds of formal and procedural requirements that create unnecessary obstacles. So, a third aspect of Access to Justice focuses on creating equal opportunities by calling for reforms of the Justice System to make it more accessible. Part of that has to do with implementing mechanisms for group and third-party claims.
4. Equality of Outcomes. Several reports keep on confirming e.g. that legal systems tend to be biased. There also can be geographical differences, and different judges may even rule differently. So, it is not enough to focus on equal opportunity, we also need to make sure we get equal outcomes. This can be done by remedies like reforming and streamlining many areas of the legal system, as well as reforming other social institutions with the goal of creating a more holistic model of service.

The challenges and the consequences are clear. Not having adequate access to justice can seriously impact people’s lives in a negative way. The good news is that in many cases, legal technology can be leveraged to improve access to justice, especially for low-income individuals. In 2019, more than 300 legal technologies were available in the US to assist legal consumers seeking access to justice. And while legal problems may be local, the technological solutions to assist with Access to Justice can typically be used internationally. (Think, e.g., of chat bots that collect the necessary data to generate legal documents: the texts for the templates will vary, but the same chat bot technology can be used to get the necessary information to generate them). The most commonly used solutions fall within three different categories. They are a) technology that provides information, b) technology that connects individuals to lawyers, and c) technology that automates and produces documents. Let us have a closer look at each of these.

Legal technology solutions that provide access to legal information. The easiest and most common way legal tech can assist is by providing key legal information, as well as self-help tools online. If, e.g., as a tenant you have a dispute with your landlord, chances are you will be able to find the relevant information online that clearly explains what your rights and obligations are, and how you can proceed. There even are organizations that assist lawyers in taking on pro bono cases by providing them with free legal online guidance.

Legal technology solutions that connects individuals to lawyers. There also are legal tech solutions that help legal consumers find – typically local – lawyers online that can assist them. This assistance can consist of legal advice and/or of legal representation.

Legal technology solutions that automates and produces documents. Another area where major strides have been made in recent years is with legal technology that assists in document automation. Legal consumers can, e.g., fill out a form online, and the required legal document gets created for them. Often, legal chat bots are available to guide the legal consumers through the process, making the procedure as simple and effective as possible.

Legal technology can assist in other ways as well. Digitalising courts and tribunals involves both making jurisprudence available online as well as automating procedures, thus makes it easier to find precedents and to start a procedure. One of the effects of the Corona pandemic is that far more courts have gone online, and sessions via videoconferencing have become far more common. Some law firms have started virtual practices where service delivery is automated and happens faster and cheaper. More and more legal aid clinics, which often are community based, have gone online as well. There also are more online learning tools available than ever before. There has been an increase too in online dispute resolution solutions.

It is worth pointing out that many of these new technologies rely on Artificial Intelligence. In previous articles, we already mentioned legal chat bots on several occasions. Joshua Browder started a revolution with his Do Not Pay robot lawyer that can handle a wide range of legal issues. Many others have followed, like the Hello Divorce bot that can streamline amicable divorces in California to the point that often no lawyers are needed. Chat bots have reached such a state of maturity that several bar associations are considering accrediting them as recognized legal solution providers.

So, legal technology can assist in access to justice in many positive ways. Still, there is much work to be done, as the 2019 report illustrated. One of the challenges for legal technology is to find solutions for Digital Exclusion. Not everybody has access to the Internet or has the required digital skills to use it properly, which means they lack the ability to take advantage of these legal technology solutions. In 2018, e.g., one in six inhabitants of the UK lacked the digital skills, and one in ten did not have access to the Internet. So, lower income households are effectively hit double since they lack the financial and technical resources to address their legal issues.

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# Accepting online payments

A while ago, a report was published that focused on what legal consumers want, and on how they choose the law firm that will solve their legal issue for them. One of the criteria legal consumers considered was whether law firms accepted online payments. So, if you are not already doing so, the time is right to start looking into it, as it offers a competitive advantage. And if your law firm management or accounting software can automatically process online payments, things are more convenient and effective for all parties involved.

So, how do you get started? When you want to accept online payment, it is important to know that there are several different payment modalities available. People typically want to pay with a service provider that they are familiar with. They may prefer a service like PayPal, or want to pay by credit card, or by wire transfer, and they expect your law firm to be equipped to handle all of these requests. Now, there was a time when all of this made accepting online payments rather cumbersome, but that is no longer the case. You can simply employ the services of a third-party solution provider that functions as an intermediary. They have all the payment facilities in place, and will accept the payment for you, and then transfer it to your account. There are several such providers available, like Stripe, Google Wallet / Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc. In this article, we will take a look at Mollie, www.mollie.com as an example.

Mollie is based in The Netherlands, and its services are available all over Europe. At present, approximately 90 000 European businesses use their services. Mollie can accept payments from all leading payment methods, locally and internationally. The way it works is that they accept the payment for you, using the payment method your clients prefer and/or are accustomed to, and in the currency of their or your choice. Once the money has been received, you can choose when you want Mollie to put it on your bank account. Whether you receive it the same day or the next working day may depend on your bank.

To get going with Mollie is easy and fast. They even claim you can start accepting online payments within 15 minutes. Once you are signed up, accepting online payments is easy to set up, as you can use any of their existing form templates, which are available for free. They offer plugins for existing platforms, like WooCommerce, Magento, NodeJS, PHP, Prestashop, Shopify, Ruby, Python, and others. (Their website gives a full list). If you are not satisfied with these existing forms or plugins, it is perfectly possible to create your own. Mollie offers a well-documented API, which makes it reasonably easy to program your own forms. If your law firm uses a Dutch of Belgian software program for its accounting or law firm management, chances are your service provide will already have its own Mollie compatible forms in place.

The question that next rises in any lawyer’s mind, is ‘What does it cost?’ The answer there is that it really depends on the payment option the client chooses. Different credit cards, e.g., charge different percentages and may or may not charge an additional transaction fee. Mollie offers a complete overview of the pricing on its pricelist. They offer volume discounts, as well as the option for recurring payments. Also good to know is that you only pay for transactions that are successful, and that payments are secure. Fraud detection and prevention is included in the service package.

Mollie also comes with a mobile-friendly dashboard. From the dashboard, you get a detailed overview of your payment reports, complete with graphs that allow you to compare payments at a glance. You can also decide who on your team you want to give what access to your dashboard so you can work together with other members of your team. The Dashboard also is the place to process and keep track of refunds.

In short, there are many benefits to using Mollie. It is easy and quick to set up, and customizable to your needs. You get your own personal account manager and have access to a full-fledged support service. And chances are it is already integrated in law firm management software.

# Video conferencing

The Coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the way we work. Working remotely has become the new normal. An important part of working remotely, is the ability to have virtual meetings and that is where video conferencing comes into the picture. The sudden explosion of video conferencing affects the legal profession, too. Lawyers meet in video chats with their clients as well as with their colleagues. In several countries, notaries are now offering their services online and no longer require parties to be physically present as long as they can join a video conference. And courts, too, have started handling cases where parties and their lawyers are not attending physically, but in video conferences.

There are several advantages to having virtual meetings. Important at present is that by not having to meet in person, one avoids the risk of getting contaminated by anyone attending the meeting who might be infected. But also important is that virtual meetings save a lot of time and reduce costs, since there is no need for transport, etc.

So, what do you need to start video conferencing? First, you need a device with a camera and a microphone. Most smart phones, tablets, and laptops have built-in microphones and cameras that will do the job perfectly. If you are using a desktop computer, however, chances are you will have to acquire a separate microphone and camera to hook up to your computer. Secondly, you need to use video conferencing software. Let us have a closer look at those.

Several packages are on offer. When deciding which one to choose, you will have to consider what your specific needs and desires are. Do you need the ability to share documents or collaborate on them during the meeting? Do you want to be able to share your desktop with other people in the meeting, so you can show them certain items, e.g., do a presentation? How secure is the software? Is the software easy to use and accessible? Will your clients have to install an app? What devices and platforms are supported? What support options are available? Etc.

When it comes to the cost, video conferencing packages come in three varieties: first, there are packages that are free. Then, there are packages that use a Freemium model, where the basic offering is free, and you pay for additional features. And lastly, there are packages that you always must pay for because they don’t offer a free option.

In recent weeks, both Tech Radar Magazine and PC Magazine dedicated articles to the best video conferencing packages available. (Links below). We will give an overview of the seven most popular options and go into a little more detail on Microsoft Teams.

GoToMeeting (www.gotomeeting.com). GoToMeeting is a mobile-friendly app that is available in 3 versions, one free and two paying. Meetings are held in a virtual conference rooms, that can also be accessed by a browser via a custom URL. It is easy to use and offers useful apps for enhanced productivity. It is recommended by PC Magazine for small businesses and consumers.

Skype (www.skype.com). Most people are familiar with Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011. It comes in 3 versions, a free version, a Skype for Business Basic version, and a full Skype for Business version. A copy of the free version is typically preinstalled on Windows 10 computers. If you have a version of Office 365 or Microsoft 365, you should have access to one of the paid versions of Skype. Skype excels in its cross-platform support and offers features like live subtitles and screen sharing. Skype meetings, too, can be accessed in a browser. It has a limit of maximum 50 people attending a meeting.

Google Hangouts (hangouts.google.com). Google Hangouts come in 2 versions, a free version, and a Google Hangouts Meet version, which is part of the G Suite set of applications, and fully integrates with them. It is accessible and simple, and the paying version is designed specifically to meet business needs. It can handle large numbers of participants. Google Hangouts can be accessed in a browser, or via dedicated apps.

Cisco Webex (www.webex.com). Cisco Webex comes in 2 versions, a free version and a paid one, which you may have access to if you are an existing Cisco customer. It is limited in features, but can handle up to 100 participants, with the restriction that only 25 of them can be included in the video stream simultaneously. PC Magazine recommends it for large organizations and existing Cisco customers.

Zoom Meeting (www.zoom.com). Zoom probably is the most popular video conferencing platform at the moment. It comes in a free and a paid version. It is easy to use, offers many features and excellent performance. It is limited to 100 participants. Zoom has been in the news, however, for security and privacy issues. If you plan to use it, some tweaks in the settings are needed to make it more secure. PC magazine calls it the best solution for small businesses and consumers.

Bluejeans (www.bluejeans.com). Bluejeans comes in three different paying versions. It offers an excellent service that includes whiteboards and screen sharing. Unique is its Dolby-powered directional audio experience, where you hear each participant in a separate location. It can be used in a browser, or via dedicated apps for mobile or desktop. PC Magazine calls it the best option for collaboration and shared meetings.

Microsoft Teams (teams.microsoft.com). Microsoft Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 for Business subscriptions. (Until recently, those were called Office 365 for Business). It is highly customizable and offers plenty of features that integrate tightly with other Microsoft 365 applications. It not only comes as a full-fledged desktop app, but there also are mobile versions, and can even be used in a Chromium-based browser, like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Certain features, however, like desktop sharing are only available in the desktop app. It is recommended by PC Magazine for large businesses that operate within the Microsoft environment.

Note that as a law firm, you are probably using Microsoft 365 for Business or Microsoft 365 Premium for Business, which means Microsoft Teams is included in the package. It is not a specific video conferencing tool, but rather a collaboration tool that offers chat and video conferencing functionality. Any of the Microsoft / Office 365 apps can be launched from within the Teams desktop app, making it even easier to share and collaborate with other Team members. You can have multiple teams for multiple projects. It is possible to split the work of a team up in sections and channels, which allows for better project management.

• Counterintuitive as it may seem, the audio experience is more important than the visual experience during a video conference. People don’t mind if the video is of slightly lower quality but do mind low audio quality. Make sure you have a decent microphone and loudspeakers.
• Make sure your camera is at eye-height, and make sure you look into the camera when speaking.
• Pay attention to lighting: make sure there is sufficient light, that the light source is facing you and pointed away from the camera. (Do not sit in front of a bright window, e.g., where people only see your silhouette against a brightly lit background).
• When you are attending a meeting with several participants, do not forget that even when you are not speaking, you are on camera, and everybody can see you and your environment.
• If it is not necessary for you to be visible at a given time, consider switching off your camera for that time.

Happy video conferencing!

Addendum 1: on 21 April 2020, Microsoft officially changed the name of Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home to Microsoft 365 Personal, and Microsoft 365 Family respectively.

Addendum 3: as of 2 June 2020, Microsoft has made a free version of Teams available.

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# Legal Tech Predictions for 2020

In two previous articles, we paid attention to the legal technology trends of 2019. Most of those are expected to continue in 2020. Apart from those, several authors made their own predictions, too, for what legal technology will bring in 2020. We’ll summarize the most interesting and important ones below.

Now, when looking at all the predictions, three items stand out. The first one is the omnipresence of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Whether we’re talking about legal service delivery (to lawyers as well as legal consumers), marketing, cybersecurity, eDiscovery, etc., there is no escaping AI. Secondly, the general mantra for 2020 seems to be ‘automate, automate, automate’. And thirdly, the cloud, too, becomes more and more omnipresent.

Market: The judiciary finally boards the train of legal tech and automation. Authors predict an increase is online courts, in courts using case management software, and in using legal analytics to speed up decision making.

When it comes to the service providers on the legal market, experts expect some cross-industry mashups, where players from other markets (e.g. accounting, analytics & data mining) join forces with legal service providers.

The trend where law firms are being run like business continues, with law firms hiring more people who have joint business and law degrees.

Law Firm Management Software: authors expect the trend of focusing on process automation to increase efficiency to continue, which will allow law firms to scale their services. Many predict that law firms will finally start becoming more client-centred, with a heavy focus on improving the client experience, and on client collaboration through improved client portals.

Cloud: as mentioned before, the usage of the cloud in the legal market is expecting to keep on rising. When it comes to lawyers using the cloud, security will remain a main challenge. The good news is that many predictions see the clouds getting connected, i.e. they predict that the interoperability between the different cloud platforms will increase. Experts also see a rise in edge computing, and an accelerated adoption of PaaS (Platform as a Service).

(Google Maps is a good example to explain what edge computing is. Google uses servers all over the world. When you use Google Maps in your area, you’re presented with a local copy of the information that is stored on a server near to you. Edge computing means that the information storage and the computation power are distributed to bring them closer to where they are needed. PaaS: the Wikipedia defines it as “a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app.”)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most predictions have to do with Artificial Intelligence. In general, the experts expect advances in NLP (Natural Language Processing), conversational AI (chatbots), Computer Vision, and Reinforcement Learning (a type of Machine Learning). More specific for the legal market, most authors talk about how the work of lawyers changes as AI and automation will take over certain tasks lawyers and paralegals were performing until now, and how this will increase the efficiency of law firms. The increased usage of AI is also expected to have an impact on compliance, research, due diligence, and legal documentation (creation, analysis and review of legal documents).

Apart from that, there are also more specific predictions. Law firms are expected to start using more data-driven legal marketing, predictive legal analytics, and Virtual Assistants. AI is also expected to start contributing to finding new legal solutions.

Most of the predictions about Security are rather dire. All experts warn about deepfakes and that there will be a considerable increase in incidents of security breaches, both on-premise and in the cloud. Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being used by both cybercriminals and by those fighting cybercrime.

eDiscovery: the experts see three trends and three challenges. The trends are a) that eDiscovery continues its move to the cloud; b) that the line between e-discovery and information governance will continue to blur; and c) the continued increase of AI usage. A first challenge has to do with the tension between eDiscovery and privacy legislation with regard to analytics. A second challenge lies in the increase of atypical data sources like ephemeral messaging, IoT device data, collaboration tools and app-based information. A third challenge is how to deal with an increase in deepfakes and fabricated evidence.

When it comes to Blockchain, the experts don’t agree. Some point at the fact that thus far, there has been far more hype than actual results. Most of them, however, are expecting an increase in real-life applications in the legal market. At the same time, they also expect more cases of Blockchain fraud and litigation.

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# The Legal Technology Trends of 2019, part 2

In November, the American Bar Association (ABA) published its annual Legal Technology Survey Report. The report typically is accompanied by a series of detailed reports on specific subjects, that are published over a period of several weeks. In a previous article we dealt with the first three of those reports. In this article, we’ll have a look at the next five, which deal with practice management, budgeting and planning, technology training, solo and small firms. A ninth report was published on lawyer well-being, but it largely repeats items raised in the other reports.

Firm Culture

When it comes to demographics, the report found that the majority of respondents, no less than 71%, were male, although the gender gap decreased as age decreased. 33% of respondents was between 60-69, while less than 2% were under 29 years old; 21% were in their 50s.

With the exception of solo lawyers, the vast majority of lawyers still mainly work from a traditional office space. 34% of solo lawyers work from home. Overall, the profession keeps flexible working hours (offered by 77% of law firms) and mobile: roughly 50% of lawyers have telecommuted. 88% of those who telecommute work from home.

The report also found that there is a large and continuing gap between what the larger firms offer in terms of amenities, cyber protection, and training and what smaller firms offer.

Overall, lawyers are still working too hard, and continue to not acknowledge the strain this puts on their mental health.

Practice Management

Law Technology Today summarizes the following key points regarding the survey’s findings on practice management solutions.

Usage and satisfaction of Practice Management software: while the rest of the world increasingly relies more and more on technology, the legal profession hasn’t really followed suit. The use of practice management software has been more or less stagnant for the last four years. The majority of users of these packages remains satisfied with their usage.

Need for improvement and all-inclusiveness: one of the main problems with practice management software is that most of them are still only offering partial solutions. There isn’t any program that handle every aspect of law firm management. As a result, law firms typically must rely on several programs, where their interoperability leaves much to be desired.

Rise of CRM as an alternative: as a result of the limitations of existing practice management software, there has been an increase in the usage of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions in law firms.

Shifts in the Use of Laptops, Computers, and Mobile Devices: 57% of lawyers still use a desktop computer as their primary work computer. This confirms the downward trend of the last years and corresponds to the increase in the use of laptops as the main work computer, which now stands at 41%. This shift towards laptop computers can be seen mainly in large firms, followed by medium sized firms. For small firms the increase in laptop usage was limited to a 1% increase (to 35%), and for solo lawyers, the number remained the same at 40%.

The Continuing Increase of Remote Access: one of the main findings of the report is that lawyers are increasingly using remote access, with 73% of lawyers using telecommuting technologies in 2019, compared to 68% last year. These are mainly used to occasionally work from home.

Consistency of Fee Structures and the Adoption of New Technology: there was little change in how law firms charge. Most law firms, 69%, are still using hourly fees. Fixed fees saw a slight increase from 15 to 17%, which came at the expense of contingent fees which fell from 11 to 9%. Other fee structures remained the same.

Budgeting and Planning

There is some good news when it comes to budgeting and planning: in 2019, the law firms that have a budget for technology slightly increased their spending. Solo firms spent about the same as last year, and have no intention of spending more next year, where all other firms that have a budget intend to increase it for next year.

The report also advises to consider budgeting for technology training (see below), and to start using metrics to measure technology usage and the track what is working and what isn’t. “Plan well, spend wisely, and prioritize accordingly; technology is and will remain an essential part of running a law firm.” (Law Technology Today)

Technology Training

In 2019, lawyers need technology to efficiently run their practice. In fact, by now most bar associations require lawyers to be familiar with “the risks and benefits associated with technology”. To be able to use that technology effectively, training is essential. A majority of 82% of lawyers understand that technology training is important. The bad news is that in 2019, fewer attorneys had access to technology training at their law firms. Barely more than half of the attorney respondents to the survey had technology training available at their firms. The chance of having training available at the firm rises with the size of the firm, as was the case in previous years. Interestingly, the report also warns that solo lawyers may be overestimating their technology competence and underestimating their need for training.

Solo and Small Firms

Solo and small firms (with 2 to 9 attorneys) still form the majority of law firms: with 32% and 31% respectively, they’re good for 63% of law firms. When looking at the ages of the lawyers, the largest (10-year) segment consists of lawyers between 60-69.

The survey found that technology adoption among solo and small firms appears to be stagnant or declining. The only exception is the use of practice management software, which slightly more solo and small firms are using in 2019 than before. As mentioned before, rather alarmingly, less than 50% of solo and small law firms use file and email encryption, file access restriction, intrusion prevention and detection, web filtering, whole or full desk encryption, or employee monitoring.

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# The Legal Technology Trends of 2019, Part 1

Traditionally, towards the end of the calendar year, two reports are published that shed a light on the state of, and current trends in legal technology. The American Bar Association (ABA) publishes its annual Legal Technology Report (often referred to as the ABA Tech Report), while Clio also publishes an annual report on trends related to legal technology. These two reports differ greatly in scope: where the ABA report is comprehensive, the Clio report tends to focus on one specific aspect. Also noteworthy is that after the ABA publishes its full report, it always publishes a series of articles, focusing on a specific theme. For each of these, it offers a summary and analysis of the findings of the report. Those articles are published over several weeks. At the time of writing, six out of nine have been published. In this article, we’ll have a look at the Clio Report, and at the first three articles on the ABA Tech Report. Next month, when all the articles will have been published, we’ll have a look at the remaining six articles on the ABA Tech Report.

In this year’s legal trends report, Clio investigated how 1000 law firms responded to prospective new clients who asked them some questions, either by mail or by telephone. They chose five common topics, and then sent 1000 mails with related questions to law firms that deal with those topics. They also made 500 phone calls.

The surprising findings of the report clearly demonstrate that law firms struggle to adequately respond to client inquiries. An astonishing sixty percent of law firms did not respond to the emails at all, and twenty-seven percent of firms did not answer or return phone calls. As part of its investigation, Clio also surveyed 2000 legal consumers on what their expectations were when approaching a law firm with their legal issue. Based on how these expectations were met, they created a scorecard for each of the 1000 law firms. Only two of the 1,000 firms surveyed got an excellent rating when it came to replying to emails. Things were only slightly better for the telephone responses, where 20 firms — or 7 percent of the total — received an excellent rating. There clearly is a lot of work to be done.

Let us now continue with the ABA Tech Report and have a closer look on its findings with regard to cloud computing, security, and websites and marketing.

Cloud computing

As was to be expected, the number of lawyers that use cloud services is still growing, with 58% of lawyers replying they were doing so, compared to 55% in 2018. As was the case in previous years, solo and small law firms lead the way, with cloud adoption around 60%. But compared to the rest of the business world, lawyers are still slow to move to the cloud.

The most important finding regarding cloud usage by lawyers, however, was the lack of security measures taken by lawyers when working in the cloud. The report warns that the situation is reaching a crisis point, as there were significant drops in the use of very standard cybersecurity practices. “Although lawyers say that confidentiality, security, data control and ownership, ethics, vendor reputation and longevity, and other concerns weigh heavily on their minds, the employment of precautionary security measures is quite low, with no more than 35% (down from 38%) of respondents actually taking any one of the specific standard cautionary cybersecurity measures listed in the 2019 Survey question on the topic.” (Law Technology Today).

Security

Last year’s report concluded that ” All attorneys and law firms should have appropriate comprehensive, risk-based security programs that include appropriate safeguards, training, periodic review and updating, and constant security awareness.” The same still holds true in 2019. In some areas, progress has been made, but as the situation with cloud usage demonstrates, other areas still need a lot of work. Most law firms need to take extra steps in designing and implementing security solutions.

Some statistics:

• 26% of law firms reported having experienced a security breach in the last year, while a staggering 19% didn’t know.
• In 2019, 31% of law firms reported having an incident response plan, up from 25% in 2018.
• When it comes to encryption, 44% of lawyers encrypt their files; 38% encrypt their mail, and 22% use full disk encryption.
• 33% of lawyers have cyber liability insurance, compared to 34% in 2018.

Websites and marketing

When it comes to marketing, the report again found there is much room for improvement, especially for solo lawyers and small law firms. The survey revealed that most of them do not have a planned approach to marketing in general, are clueless about online marketing, and may instead be engaging in “random acts of marketing.” For many law firms, it is unclear who oversees marketing, who is making the decisions and why. Law Technology Today summarizes the findings as follows: “The 2019 Survey results show that law firms—and especially solos and small firms—have a long way to go. Unless they begin to develop marketing plans and budgets, establish an online presence and regularly analyze whether their firms are reaching their targets, they will continue to face increasing difficulty competing for business.”

Some statistics:

• Only 47% of law firms have a marketing budget, with some considerable discrepancies depending on the size of the firm: 94% of large firms, 61% of medium-sized firms (10 to 49 lawyers), 21 % of small firms (2-9 lawyers), and 17% of solo lawyers.
• 86% of law firms have a website: solo lawyers are again lagging behind, with only 57% of them having one, whereas over 90% of all the others have a website.
• The number of law firms with a blog has remained stable since 2016 at 30%, with solo lawyers again staying behind at only 9%.
• More lawyers than ever – about 80% – are using social media. LinkedIn is still the most used platform at 79%, followed by Facebook (54%), Martindale (38%), and Avvo (23%). Noteworthy is that the reported use of Facebook and Avvo has declined over the past year.

Next month, we will have a look at the other findings of the report.

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# Legal Technology Predictions for 2019

The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time when the experts make their predictions for the year to come. The field of legal technology is no exception. Most of the predictions focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain and security, but there also are predictions with regard to the legal market in general, the cloud, and eDiscovery. Let’s have a closer look.

Legal Market

The American Bar Association’s 2018 Legal Technology Report revealed that in 2018 fewer law firms invested in legal technology than in 2017. Because of this, experts expect a stagnation in the amount of law firms who are investing in legal technology. The amount of money being invested by law firms still is increasing, as is the amount of money being invested by legal technology solution providers. The legal technology market itself is therefore expected to keep on expanding.

Experts do not anticipate significant changes in the software and services that the lawyers are using, nor in how law firms are charging their clients. The market of Alternative Legal Services Providers (ALSPs) will keep on growing, and some of these Alternative Legal Services Providers will come into their own as major players.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

IBM predicts three major breakthroughs in the field of AI which will lead enterprises to increasingly advance, scale, and trust artificial intelligence. These three breakthroughs are:

1. Causality will increasingly replace correlations: at present Machine Learning algorithms discovers patterns, i.e. correlations, but the nature of those correlations still hasn’t been qualified. The breakthrough will consist in qualifying those correlations and determine what is cause and effect.
2. Trusted AI will take centre stage: methodologies are being developed for a better cooperation between humans and AI, where humans can trust the output generated by AI systems.
3. Quantum computing could give AI an assist: technologies like Deep Learning require serious computing power. Quantum computing has the potential to dramatically increase computing power.

The experts that Forbes Magazine consulted make five predictions:

1. AI increasingly becomes a matter of international politics
2. A Move Towards “Transparent AI” (i.e. where AI systems can reveal how they draw their conclusions. This ties in with the concept of “trusted AI”, mentioned above).
3. AI and automation are drilling deeper into every business
4. More jobs will be created by AI than will be lost to it.
5. AI assistants will become truly useful

In a separate article, other experts predict a rise in applications that combine video, voice and AI to improve human interactions, sales, customer service, and meetings.

More specific to the field of Legal AI, experts predict an increase in smart contracts, as well as an increased use of blockchain based solutions. Law firms are becoming smarter in what technologies to use, which leads to a higher adoption of legal AI: AI will augment existing solutions. AI is also expected to play a more important role in the design of legal software and its interfaces. One expert predicts that the increased usage of AI will lead to lower fees, thus facilitating access to justice. One of the fields that is expected to grow is legal analytics (including judicial analytics). As a result of this the roles of Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) or Chief Data Officer (CDO) will become more prevalent in law firms.

Cybersecurity

A lot of the predictions have to do with cybersecurity. Law firms have a lot of valuable data and are prime targets for cybercriminals.

One of the world’s foremost experts in building AI systems to detect malware points out that cybercriminals have started using what he calls “offensive AI”, i.e. AI systems that are specifically designed to attack computer systems. As a result, malware, e.g., gets smarter and better at evading protection against it. In turn, cybersecurity companies are increasingly using AI as well to ward off cyberattacks and to detect those technologies that are aimed at evading protection.

All experts anticipate cybercrime will rise in 2019. They expect increases in:

• Data breaches and data leaks, with an emphasis on the latter
• Browser crypto-mining, or crypto-jacking, i.e. where your browser is hijacked to mine cryptocurrencies
• Web skimmers: just like you have hardware to illegally clone credit cards, web skimmers use websites to illegally get your credit card details
• Expert specifically expect an increase in botnets that use “Internet of Things” devices
• Dedicated Denial of Service (DDos) Attacks
• Ransomware
• Financial crime, i.e. cyberattacks on banks and other financial institutions
• Email social engineering attacks, also known as BECs, or Business Email Compromises
• Exploit kits, i.e. web-based applications that redirect users to malicious sites where they attempt to exploit a browser vulnerability to infect the user with malware.

Cloud servers, too, are in trouble in 2019. Cloud servers have slowly become the favourite target of cryptocurrency mining trojans.

As more and more hacking tools are becoming available, experts foresee an increase in underground communities of hackers and cybercriminals.

Malvertising will continue to gain sophistication in 2019.

Cloud

Over the last years, law firms have increasingly started using cloud technologies. That growth is expected to continue, as law firms have largely overcome their hesitance to use cloud-based solutions.

eDiscovery

The GDPR has had a great impact on legal eDiscovery. As more and more countries (and States within the US) are implementing similar legislation, experts believe we are reaching a tipping point for the protection of personal data privacy in legal discovery.

2019 will also see new ways to exploit the power of analytics across the entire e-discovery workflow. ‘Active learning’ will be used as a supplemental tool to support traditional reviews. And as eDiscovery requires data transfers to service providers, those transfers will increasingly become targets for hackers and cybercriminals.

We are also witnessing an increasingly globalized eDiscovery, and as a result there will be an increase in demand for translations.

Blockchain

In 2019, we will approach Blockchain more realistically. Many fantastic visions of 2017 and 2018 were a little ahead of schedule, and many projects have failed to deliver. With a more realistic approach, Blockchain will finally move past the hype into reality and Blockchain adoption is expected to spike across sectors, and to start converging with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Security experts anticipate that Blockchain will help prevent unauthorized access. They also see advancements in privacy-preserving techniques for blockchain: these techniques combined with blockchain can enable new decentralized applications that protect data while providing users with transparency and control over how data is used.

To address the issue of energy consumption costs, which are skyrocketing because of the computing power needed, in 2019 we will also see hardware-based acceleration of cryptographic techniques.

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# What did 2018 bring on the Legal Technology front?

As we are taking our first steps into 2019, it may be useful to evaluate what 2018 brought us on the Legal Technology front. Robert Ambrogi, from lawsitesblog.com, published an article on the 20 most important Legal Technology developments in 2018. And, as usual, the American Bar Association (ABA) also published its annual Legal Technology Survey Report in December 2018, which offers great insights as well. Let us start with the latter.

The Full ABA Legal Techology Survey Report consists of six volumes:

1. Technology Basics and Security
2. Law Office Technology
3. Online Research
4. Marketing and Communication Technology
5. Litigation Technology and E-Discovery
6. Mobile Lawyers

These six volumes can be bought either separately, or combined, here. A summary of the survey in five separate reports can be read online for free here. These reports deal with:

1. Budgeting and planning
2. Solo and small firm
3. Practice management
4. Technology Training
5. Litigation and TAR (Technology Assisted Review)

Here are the highlights.

One of the most surprising findings of the report is that the percentage of firms that budget for technology has undergone a slight decrease compared to last year. Where in 2017, 60 percent of law firms had a legal tech budget, that number is down to 57% in 2018. As was the case in the past, the percentage of law firms that have a technology budget increases with the firm’s size. The report found that 34 percent of solo respondents, 53 percent of firms of two to nine attorneys, 77 percent of firms of 10 to 49 attorneys, 83 percent of firms with 100 to 499 attorneys, and 87 percent of firms of 500 or more attorneys had technology budgets.

Another surprising finding is that while telecommuting or remote working overall is on the rise (as expected), it has decreased in larger firms. Among solo practitioners and law firms with 2-9 attorneys, the percentage of people who telecommute has gone up from 38% in 2015 to 46% in 2018, and from 58% in 2015 to 68% in 2018, respectively. In larger firms, however, the percentage has dropped from a high of 87% in 2015 to a low of 79% in 2018 in firms with 10-49 attorneys, and from a high of 94% in 2016 to a low of 88% in 2018 for the bigger ones.

Attorneys continue to use practice management software at a steady rate at firms of all sizes. The functionality of the software that is available to them hasn’t really changed in that managing clients and conflicts still is at the core of all of them. The amount of law firms using practice management software has remained steady over the last years (with the exception of some spikes in 2016).

Most attorneys are satisfied with the practice management software they use, as 32% reported “very satisfied” with the features and functions therein and 61% reporting “somewhat satisfied,” for a total of 93% that were somewhat or more satisfied.

Not much has changed with regard to the software law firms are using, and there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially when it comes to integration with other applications.

The GDPR has had an important impact which resulted in the removal of quite a lot of metadata. The usage of software that focuses on the removal of metadata is rising, which benefits privacy and confidentiality.

Another finding of the report is that the line between tablets and laptops is blurring. In solo and small law firms, the percentage of tablet users dropped from 57% in 2016 to 47% in 2018. In larger firms, however, the number of tablet users has increased: in firms with 100-499 attorneys, the percentage has increased from 32% in 2015 to 53% in 2018. In firms with more than 500 attorneys, 39% of attorneys use tablets.

There is virtually no change in how lawyers charged in 2018, compared to 2017. Hourly fees remain the most popular (at 69%), followed by fixed fees (15%), contingency fees (11%, which depend on the result achieved), retainer fees (4%, where the client pays an advance on a regular basis, typically monthly), and other (1%).

In his article on The 20 Most Important Legal Technology Developments Of 2018, Robert Ambrogi mentions several developments that are relevant worldwide:

• Analytics become essential: in 2018 more and more law firms started analysing the data they collect.
• Legal tech goes global: until recently legal tech largely consisted of national playing fields, but now we are seeing more and more legal technology services that are being offered internationally.
• Because of AI, Legal research gets smarter and more comprehensive.
• Investment are increasing. In the US alone, \$1 billion USD was invested in legal technology.
• The cloud no longer looms ominous. More and more law firms have dropped their reservations and are now effectively using cloud services.
• Tech competence gets real.
• AI gets an MBA.
• Startups continue to proliferate.

In conclusion: the legal technology market keeps evolving, but the use of legal technology in law firms has not taken any large steps in recent years.

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